a picture of a clock

The messy ways we measure time!

We as humans have these common small inconveniences that nobody talks about. One of the very common ones that we all have gotten used to, is how we measure and see time. It is one of the most chaotic systems that we have to deal with and it will probably never change.

How the way we see time is messy!

Time is very valuable for us and it has been for thousands of years. It is probably one of the very first things people started to measure, especially because of its connection with weather, agriculture and life. And we all can agree that ancient people were crazy, they based everything on these stupid superstitions. We can look at how time is measured on two scopes: how we measure time smaller than a day and how we measure time longer than a day.

Time unites smaller than a day

Hours: Each day is divided into 24 hours, but isn’t really! It is divided into two 12 hours. so every time you look at a clock you have to wonder if it’s a.m. or p.m. which is totally unnecessary when we have infinite numbers to choose from. It could have simply been 30 hours in each day or 425 hours, but they came up with 12 because it is “a sacred number”. It has two good points though, It can be divided by both 3 and 4 which is relatively useful (compared to 10).

Minutes: So we have 2*12 hours in each day. let’s come up with a more convenient way to measure minutes. “No! each hour has 60 minutes”. This makes it all a mess; now each time we want to know how many hours is 250 minutes we need to use a calculator, which is great.

Seconds: Let’s do the same with seconds because the last one worked out great and then it will be impossible to calculate how many seconds are in 2:45 hours.

We got used to the way it works but if it was not this way from the start we would never have imagined such a stupid way to measure time.

The logical way

During the French revolution a man called Jean le Rond d’Alembert came up with a very simple and convenient way to do it. It is called decimal time. It simply says that instead of two 12 hours in each day, let’s have 10 hours in each day (which will be much longer hours) but then each has 100 minutes and each minute 100 seconds.

Because it is decimal it makes calculating and working with time far easier. For example with the current system 2.5 hour is actually 2:30 hours but in decimal time it all works out and we would be able to write time like a decimal number for example 2.3540 would be 2 hours and 35 minutes and 40 seconds.

It could have been so beautiful but it is gone now.

Time unites longer than a day

Weeks: Each week is made of 7 days because let’s guess, “a sacred number” again. 7 is an odd number; It cannot be divided by anything but the good point is that if you get the holyday out you will have 6 days which can be divided by 2 and 3. The bad point is that nowadays we talk two days off and it doesn’t work that way. I think 5 would have been a far better choice and it could have fitted in a month far better. Each month would have been 6, 5-day weeks. this way there were less work days between weeks and 2 days off each week wouldn’t be necessary.

Months: Each year is made of 12 months; You know the reason. and it doesn’t fit because each year is 365 days and that divided by 12 will be 30.41. So we have to have months with different days.

Seasons: This one is actually very logical. Each year has 4 seasons and it works somehow. However, we can’t give people credit for this one. It was nature, they simply observed it.

Years: Fortunately we keep track of years in decimal numbers, The starting year is strange though. Because of that we have to use a B.C or A.D every time we want to talk about history.

The logical Way

Again the French people came up with a better solution, it wasn’t perfect though. They divided each year into 12 perfect 30-days month, But then 5 (or 6 in a leap year) days will be extra, they called then “Complementary days” and were declared national holidays. Each month is also divided into three weeks. This makes perfect sense because then every month will begin with the same week day and there will be equal number of workdays and holidays in each month.

I personally thought of a system of 13, 28-day months with 7-days weeks. This way we will only have 1 (or 2) complementary days and it would fit with the current system. The only problem with it is 13 can’t be divided into 4 seasons or even 2 big seasons. Come to think of it 13 can’t be divided by anything. I think The French system was better.

Maybe if the French people stopped with all the executions, we would now be enjoying our decimal time units and a cup of coffee. But apparently the executions were more important than how we see time for all eternity.

Vive la révolution

* Photo by Sonja Langford on Unsplash

Ali Shahdoost

Ali Shahdoost

I write here. If you read you can comment what you think. Opposing views are appreciated

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