MORE OFF-TOPIC CHAT Re: Timekeeping
|From:||Raymond A. Brown <raybrown@...>|
|Date:||Friday, October 2, 1998, 17:16|
At 9:13 pm -0400 1/10/98, J.A. Mills wrote:
> In all these fine schemes, the 7-day week gets overlooked. Whatever is
> planned, I cannot imagine for one moment that Jews, Muslim or Christians
> will abandon that measurement of time.
> Ray >>
>Why is that an issue?
Simply because those three groups, whether you like it or not, do form a
pretty sizable part of the human race. Things are more likely to be
accepted if they're acceptable to most people. Probably the chief reason
the French Revolutionary Calendar was abandoned was the opposition of the
Church to the '10 day week'.
>The world has abandoned Latin as a "modern language".
Absolutely irrelevant - and, as far as I can see, meaningless.
Latin, like any other natural language, ceased to be a modern language [Why
the quotes?] when it was no longer anyone's first language. That occurred
sometime as the Empire was falling apart; in the 5th cent it was probably
still some people's 1st language, by the 8th cent. it wasn't. Nor was it
abandoned by the world, whatever that means.
Or are you talking about the use of medieval Latin (not Classical Latin) as
the IAL of western & central Europe during the middle ages? But western &
central Europe is hardly the world! Nor did anyone at the time consider an
IAL which was no-one's first language to be a modern language; the
medievals were a little more intelligent.
>European church leaders use the metric system, even though that system is not
>to be found in the bible, the torah, the koran, etc.
Again, with respect, absolutely irrelevant.
AFAIK neither the Bible, Torah or Koran have anything to say about what
system of weights & measures we should use. (Yes, I DO know certain
measures are given in the scriptures, but they reflect those of the people
of the period & certainly different measures occur in different parts of
>Don't try to make
>customary practice of timekeeping an obstacle to reform.
Er - I wasn't. I was merely pointing out a fact. Indeed, if you care to
read what I wrote carefully, you will see that I stated that Vatican II had
said it did NOT object to a proposed REFORM, which in many people's opinion
would make our calendar simpler.
So again your statement is, with respect, a little off mark.
>And how fair is it
>to base our calendar (ours = the West) on the A.D.-B.C. division.
I don't recall anyone saying it was fair or unfair. No authority AFAIK
actually imposes that on the secular world. And even Christian scholars
are aware it's somewhat arbitrary since what historic evidence we have
suggests Jesus of Nazareth was about six, give or take a couple of years,
when 1 AD dawned. The now defunct Communist regimes were happy enough to
use it, despite their militant atheism. And very few of the millions
who'll be partying at midnight on the purely arbitrary date of 1st Jan.
2000 will give one thought about the "fairness" of the BC/AD division.
>shoot for the beginnings of the historical record-keeping and count from
And when, pray, was that?
>Nobody's satisfactorily answered my question yet. Why doesn't a "metric" time
>system even exist? Is it because nobody can do the math?
Of course they do the maths!!!!! It's not exactly high powered stuff - you
multiply or divide by 10s or, if you stick strictly to SI system, you just
worry about the thousands.
Of course there just is no way the earth's daily rotation _and_ the solar
year could both be fitted into such a system. I guess no-one is going to
abandon the day as a unit of time. Ok, let's see......
(a) Bigger units than the day.
If we take the SI prefixes we get:
1000 days = 1 kiloday
1000 000 days = 1 megaday
1000 000 000 = 1 gigaday etc.
In practice, one would expect the kiloday to be subdivided, probably 100
"metric weeks", each 'week', or more strictly 'decaday' being the French
Revolutionaries' & ancient Egyptians 10 day 'week'.
Now work that system through & decide what'd happen to annual reviews,
financial years, progression from one year to another at schools & colleges.
If you think you persuade the human race to change its habits, go ahead.
(b) Smaller than the day.
The day would be divided into 1000 milidays, each of which would be divided
into 1000 microdays, and those into 1000 nanodays etc etc.
This is IMHO an entirely feasible system in theory. Indeed, as I said in
an earlier mail, the French Revolutionaries did have proposals to divide
the day decimally.
The reasons that this has not been done IMO are that:
1. The system is, in essence, a good 4000 years old and has become (almost)
universally accepted & has clearly proved workable.
2. The cost of changing all the world's time pieces, computers etc. to the
new system would be astronomical.
3. As it has been pointed out more than once, the second has become the
standard SI unit of time and other SI units, e.g. the metre are defined in
terms of the second. A change to milidays, microdays, nanodays, would
necessitate redifinition of otherb units and almost certainly quite costly
readjustment and/or replacement of quite a bit of the world's scientific