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Isn't it Time for Metric Time? 1717

xenocytekron writes: "Sure, our time system is ok, but does it make sense? Is it easy? Think about it: 60 seconds to a minute, 60 minutes to an hour, 25 hours to a day, all the way to 365 days to a year. Currently, all the world uses the Metric System except for the US. But what about Time? The solution is Metric Time, that is, a time system which uses Base-10 and Metric Standards. So what do you think: Is it Time, for Metric Time?"
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Isn't it Time for Metric Time?

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  • by JeanBaptiste ( 537955 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @10:46PM (#3824761)
    When did this happen? I have only been getting 24 and I sure could use an extra hour to sleep in.
  • Yup! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Ziviyr ( 95582 )
    Think about it: 60 seconds to a minute, 60 minutes to an hour, 25 hours to a day

    Yeah, think about it.

    Timothy needs metric time...
  • 25 Hours? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Jester998 ( 156179 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @10:47PM (#3824765) Homepage
    "60 seconds to a minute, 60 minutes to an hour, 25 hours to a day"

    Cool... Where do you live? I can use an extra hour of coding time every day... ;)

    • Re:25 Hours? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pjdepasq ( 214609 )
      Obviously if we can't master 24 hours in a day, then me thinks we'd have a hard time switching to something new.

      I think you'd see a lot of resistence to this idea, since everyone in the world (AFAIN) uses the current time system. The same can't be said about weights and measures.

      Also, think of all the s/w that would have to be rewritten.... flight control systems, databases, operating systems, the list is endless! Yikes!
      • by thales ( 32660 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @11:32PM (#3825037) Homepage Journal
        "Also, think of all the s/w that would have to be rewritten.... flight control systems, databases, operating systems, the list is endless! Yikes!"
        Yikes?... Try Who Hoo!!!
        Think of all the $$$$ that PHBs were shovelling at Geeks for software and consulting 3 or 4 years ago when they were scared to death of Y2k!! We could do it all over again. This is a GOLDMINE !
    • Re:25 Hours? (Score:5, Informative)

      by suwain_2 ( 260792 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @11:14PM (#3824938) Journal
      While there's a 99.9% chance that the "25 hours" figure was a typo, it reminded me of an interesting factoid I've seen before...

      The human body's "biorhythms" are apparently based on a 25-hour cycle. Now that I'm actually looking for it, I can't find any links to the research, but perhaps someone more "in the know" can provide this information, as I'm positive that I didn't imagine this fact. There've been some really interesting studies done on this and sleep, I wish I could find the link. (I suppose chances are slim that anyone else would happen to have bookmarked a URL for something about 25 hour biorhythms and sleep?) Can anyone help me out here?

      • Re:25 Hours? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by LinuxHam ( 52232 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @11:40PM (#3825069) Homepage Journal
        Exactly what I thought of, too. I think it was a NASA study done years ago to figure out how to best structure work schedules for long stays in space.

        I remember this particular study involved moving people into a house a la Big Brother, but actually having that house built completely within a set, kindof like the Truman Show, but more like just limited to controlling the light coming in through the windows to give the residents a sense of sunrise, daylight, sunset and nighttime. They may have even cycled the light every, what, 45 minutes(?) to simulate orbiting the earth.

        I don't remember anything about specially controlled clocks that run a little slower to add the extra hour a day. If there are 3,600 seconds in an hour and 86,400 seconds in a day, then each move of the second hand on each clock actually needs to take 1 + 3600/86400 or 1.041666 seconds.. barely noticeable. Don't worry, you're not nuts. I most definitely remember the 25 hours too, not 27 like another poster mentioned, but I think we're remembering a 20 year old study, too.
      • Re:25 Hours? (Score:4, Informative)

        by LinuxHam ( 52232 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @11:51PM (#3825128) Homepage Journal
        I should have done this first, but Google for "25 hour day".. i think the quotes are significant to the search. A front page hit is this [] article from Harvard. The next hit [] says the brain's day is 24 hours, 11 minutes long, not the 25 hours earlier studies concluded.

        You can read the rest [] of the Google hits.
      • 24.2 Hours! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DzugZug ( 52149 )
        Actually I work in a lab studying circadian rhythms. The human cycle is about 24.3 hours. For rats its 23.7 or so. Keep in mind that this is only the frequency of the oscillations in the SCN (a brain region responsible for that sort of thing) and that a human's (or any mammals's) cycle is entrained to the environment. People normally exist in a 24 hour LD (light/dark) clycle and we entrain to whatever LD cycle we happen to be in. Otherwise you would never get over jetlag.

        In spaceflight we have a .75:.75 LD cycle (i.e., 45 min. of light followed by 45 min. of dark) and weightlessness. The circadian oscillators are screwed up by this and thus the period retards to approx. 25 hours.

        Altering our time system wont change our LD cycle. So unless we want to slow down the Earth's rotation by about 0.8%, we just need to live with it.

        BTW, the study that was mentioned before is Alpatov, AM.Circadian rhythms in a long-term duration space flight. Adv Space Res 1992;12(1):249-52. I have included the abstract below:

        Institute of Biomedical Problems, Moscow, USSR.

        In order to maintain cosmonaut health and performance, it is important for the work-rest schedule to follow human circadian rhythms (CR). What happens with CR in space flight? Investigations of CR in mammals revealed, that the circadian phase in flight is less stable, probably due to a displacement of the range of entrainment, resulting from internal period change (the latter was confirmed on insects). The circadian period may be a gravity-dependent parameter. If so, the basic biological requirement for the day length might be different in weightlessness. On this basis, a higher risk of desynchronosis is expected in a long-duration space flight. As a countermeasure, a non-24-hr day length could be suggested, being close to the internal circadian period (in humans about 25 hr). Taking into account a possible displacement of period in weightlessness, it seems reasonable to establish a flexible work-rest schedule, capable to follow the body temperature CR by means of biofeedback.

  • by I Want GNU! ( 556631 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @10:47PM (#3824769) Homepage
    "The metric system is the tool of the devil! My car
    gets forty rods to the hogshead and that's the way I likes it!" --Abe Simpson (Homer's dad)
    • by PowerBook2k ( 312576 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @10:56PM (#3824835)
      I bet I've got a better one!

      "Not only are the trains now running on time, they're running on metric time! Remember this moment, people: 80 past 2 on April 47th!" --Principal Skinner
      (Episode "They Saved Lisa's Brain")
      [the one where Lisa joins Mensa]
    • by Mad Marlin ( 96929 ) <> on Friday July 05, 2002 @05:07AM (#3826249) Homepage
      "The metric system is the tool of the devil! My car gets forty rods to the hogshead and that's the way I likes it!" --Abe Simpson (Homer's dad)

      Actually, one of the cool things about old English liquid measure (and dry measure too, but it took me long enough to exosomatically remember the liquid measures) is that it is base-2 instead of base-10. Unfortunately, we forgot most of the units. For example, I can't recall what goes between ounces and gills, and I can't seem find it on the internet.

      2 fluid ounces = 1 ??? = 2^1 fl.oz.
      2 ???s = 1 gill = 2^2 fl.oz.
      2 gills = 1 chopin (cup) = 2^3 fl.oz.
      2 chopins (cups) = 1 pint = 2^4 fl.oz.
      2 pints = 1 quart = 2^5 fl.oz.
      2 quarts = 1 pottle = 2^6 fl.oz.
      2 pottles = 1 gallon = 2^7 fl.oz.
      2 gallons = 1 peck = 2^8 fl.oz.
      2 pecks = 1 demibushel = 2^9 fl.oz.
      2 demibushels = 1 bushel or firken = 2^10 fl.oz.
      2 firkens = 1 kinderkin = 2^11 fl.oz.
      2 kinderkins = 1 barrel = 2^12 fl.oz.
      2 barrels = 1 hogshead = 2^13 fl.oz.
      2 hogsheads = 1 pipe = 2^14 fl.oz.
      2 pipes = 1 tun = 2^15 fl.oz.

      The gas tank on my Dad's old Chevy Suburban holds a barrel and a firken. A full tank of gas costs about $60.

    • According to Go Metric [], that's equal to 0.001984131 miles per gallon. I wonder what kind of car Abraham Simpson drives.
  • Maybe... (Score:5, Funny)

    by adam613 ( 449819 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @10:49PM (#3824781)
    ...if we could convince the article's web server that there were 25 hours a day, it would have an extra hour of CPU time and it wouldn't get slashdotted until AFTER some responses were posted.
  • Funny topic, (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Paraplegic Vigilante ( 590364 ) <> on Thursday July 04, 2002 @10:49PM (#3824782)
    but it raises an interesting question, one that's been on my mind a lot lately.

    When is the US going to officially switch to the SI unit system. I know it's taught in public schools, typically in science classes, but it isn't used in public places. If so many European countries can switch currencies without huge problems (so far), surely we can switch from our archaic units system! I don't understand why so many people are so vehemently against making the switch. Is it that hard to (re)learn?

    • Re:Funny topic, (Score:5, Interesting)

      by inicom ( 81356 ) <aem&inicom,com> on Thursday July 04, 2002 @10:57PM (#3824839) Homepage
      The story I've always been told is that when President Carter tried to switch the US to the metric system, the aerospace companies stepped in and told him a couple things:

      1) cost plus on government contracts is going to be a much bigger PLUS

      2) it'll hurt US manufacturing by making it easier for those foreigners to sell their products here (without conversion to US measurements)

      • Re:Funny topic, (Score:4, Interesting)

        by some guy I know ( 229718 ) on Friday July 05, 2002 @01:33AM (#3825559) Homepage
        Actually, IIRC (and I was alive then),
        Carter was in the process of converting the country to Metric.
        (I particularly remember gas pumps that displayed both liters and gallons.)
        Then he lost the 1980 election to Reagan.
        Reagan stopped the conversion in its tracks, saying something like:
        "We have become world leaders in Science without the 'benefit' of the Metric system"
        (ignoring the fact that most scientific establishments use the Metric system).

        Some of the effects of this aborted attempt are felt to this day.
        For example, many carbonated beverages are now sold by the liter.
    • Re:Funny topic, (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 )
      I've lived outside the US (Holland, Israel, Egypt, Germany), and while I'm literate with the metric system and use it in Drafting and science measurments, I don't see why the United States needs to transition any farther into the Metric System than it is already.

      Baring a Constitutional Amendment, it won't happen.

      I think people in the US don't want to switch because there is no advantage to a switch. Really, what would the point be? There are 260 million people happy with the current system, why should they switch?
    • Re:Funny topic, (Score:3, Insightful)

      by laymil ( 14940 )
      The US has already tried to switch to the SI unit system. The previous attempt failed miserably: some people just don't want to switch, some people honestly just don't have the mental capacity to understand the difference between the two systems, and relearning a new system just isn't something that they can do. Also, the costs associated with converting to the SI system would be enormous. Paying to have thousands upon thousands of miles of road remarked with new signs would be prohibitively expensive. I think that since the schools have been teaching the metric system for years now, the deciding factor is in fact the infrastructure that has already been laid down.

      Think about it: mile markers, X miles to [town name], speed limits - all of these signs would have to be replaced.

      I wouldn't exactly call our units system archaic, its rather simple once you understand the basis - the human body as compared to the basis of the metric system (base 10 and something involving the earths core or some such).

      As for the actual posting: if you mean metric as the SI system, 60 second minutes, 60 minute hours, 24 hours days, etc ARE SI time.
      • Re:Funny topic, (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dkoyanagi ( 222827 ) on Friday July 05, 2002 @02:10AM (#3825694)
        One of the strange side effects that going metric had in Canada is that most Canadians now think of distances in terms of how long it takes to get there, rather than the actual distance in km. The switch happened around 1977. Almost overnight all distance and speed limit signs went from miles to kilometers. Suddenly the sign that used to say:

        Moose Jaw 200 miles

        now read

        Moose Jaw 320 km

        Instead of trying to convert kilometers back to miles, most people simply divided the distance by the speed limit (which stayed the same after conversion to metric) to get the approximate time to their destination. This became very simple because most highway speed limits are now 100 km/h. So 3.2 hours at 60 MPH is roughly 180+ miles. After a while most people stopped doing the second part of the conversion and simply started thinking of distances in terms of time. I'm sure most people who've visited Canada have had this strange conversation:

        Non-Canadian: Excuse me, how far is it to the nearest gas station?
        Canadian: About ten minutes.

    • Re:Funny topic, (Score:5, Interesting)

      by scott1853 ( 194884 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @11:15PM (#3824946)
      The company I work for develops estimating and bidding software for the construction industry. Most, if not all, State DOTs have switched to metric. The contractors haven't mentally switched though, as they frequently use the metric->imperial conversion routines in our software so they can estimate by imperial measurements, but bid in metric.
      • Re:Funny topic, (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Jester998 ( 156179 ) on Friday July 05, 2002 @12:27AM (#3825290) Homepage
        Actually, as someone who's done a lot of construction work, I actually much prefer the Imperial system for construction.

        Firstly, material is sized using feet and inches (ie. a sheet of plywood is exactly (well, *almost* exactly) 8'x4')... using the metric system, current material would be sized at some really weird rational number of meters. In order to use the metric system efficiently on a job site, all of the material would have to be resized to 'metric-friendly' sizes; and don't just say "Follow the blueprint!", because those things are never right anyways (they're a nice guide, but it's not uncommon to have to move a door over 2 feet so that it's not sitting in a wall intersection in Real Life(tm) ).

        Secondly, it just 'sounds right' saying that you need a piece cut to "one-fourteen and an eighth" (114.125 inches) than to say "two hundred eighty-nine point eight eight" (289.88 centimeters), or worse "two point eight nine eight eight" (2.8988 meters).

        BTW, I'm in Canada, and we're far more metric than the US is (our road signs are all metric, etc), but Imperial measurements still prevail on construction sites.

        I think that the Imperial system will remain in the construction industry for a long while to come...

        - Jester
    • Re:Funny topic, (Score:4, Insightful)

      by eric.t.f.bat ( 102290 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @11:20PM (#3824969)
      Given the number of problem involved in its continued use, I used to think the US kept the imperial system because americans were just dumber than everyone else, but that's unnecessarily cynical. The real reason is that american _politicians_ are dumber than everyone else. Come on, don't try to deny it...

      Australia and England both changed over easily. It took a while for the adults to adapt, and some still haven't, but the kids just started learning to count in tens, and they picked it up easily. I know my megas and centis and kilos quite well, but I still don't know how many ploods there are in a gurlang and why three eighths of a bottolf is a spork.

      Oh, and as for road signs: easy solution is not to change them until they need changing. In Australia, the old mile signs remained until they were no longer readable and needed to be replaced anyhow, and the new signs either had "km" on them instead of "miles", or else had the speed inside a distinctive red circle to indicate km/h. A bit of an ad campaign to explain it, and voila! It helps that mph speed signs tend to end in 5 and all the km/h speed signs are multiples of 20. And look at it this way: if you upgrade from 55mph to 100km/h, you get to drive 13% FASTER! It hasn't killed all that many of us, and our beer is much stronger than yours...

      : Fruitbat :
      • Re:Funny topic, (Score:5, Insightful)

        by CProgrammer98 ( 240351 ) on Friday July 05, 2002 @04:41AM (#3826179) Homepage
        England changed over easily???

        We're still using miles for distance, and miles per hour for speed (in fact, horse racing uses furlongs).

        Land is still measured in acres

        It's only in the last two years that lose produce, meat and fish have to be weighed and priced in kilograms - and that cuased a HUGE outcry, including a number of retailers making a stand and going all the way to the European court (and lost)

        cloth and fabric is still sold by yards

        Most people still measure their bodyweight in stones and pounds

        There's probably more, but I have to go do some work!

    • Re:Funny topic, (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Snarfangel ( 203258 )
      If we are going to make the effort, why not go all the way and base our measurements on Planck length, time, and mass, multiplied by suitable powers of ten (or your favorite number base -- I'm partial to duodecimal myself). Throw in the charge of the electron scaled to a more useful size, make molar quantity your number base raised to a useful power, and set the zero of your thermometers on the absolute scale. You'd end up with a more rational system than SI based on universal constants, and make physics problems easier to figure out.

      Now, if only the number of Planck time units in a day would come out evenly... :)
    • Re:Funny topic, (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zazas_mmmm ( 585262 )
      We haven't even touched on the assumptions that underlie this entire debate.

      First: If so many European countries can switch...

      The idea that one counting system is better than another doesn't seem to have primacy here. It seems that we have a cultural hegemony issue--that the rest of the wolrd is doing something one way means we should jump in line and switch.

      Second: ...surely we can switch from our archaic units system!

      That everything can be understood in a Hegelian/Spencerian view that our society is evolving and that social progress is made by abandoning the old and embracing the new.

      That organic systems (meaning they evolve on their own rather than being created ad hoc) can and should be replaced by ideas born of theory. This Hegelianism so pervades our understanding of history and the progress of time that we don't bat an eye when someone comes along and wants to create their own cutural, social, or political systems. You can trace a direct line from Hegel and Goethe's Faust through Marx and Nietzsche thorugh Leninism and Nazism, Maosim, 60's and 70's cultural and politcal radicalism, 80's Feminism, and the post-modernist/post-structuralist movements(or their popular bastard child of relativism) of today. That human systems are simple and understandable like anything observable in science and that they can be modified and replaced by anyone who theorizes that that they know better.

      Why do we need to switch our numeric system? Because the future depends on our progress! Onward and upward!!
    • I don't like SI (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ian Bicking ( 980 ) < minus caffeine> on Friday July 05, 2002 @04:04AM (#3826081) Homepage
      I think part of the problem is that SI units kind of suck.

      The meter is the worst of them. A foot is a good unit of measure. It's a scale that is about right for a lot of measurements. For instance, the meter is bad for measuring height -- most people falling between one and two meters. Square meters are huge. Meter sticks are long. Centimeters are too small, and decimeters are odd and never used. All this because some idiot thought the unit should be based on the size of the Earth, instead of the size of the people who would use the unit.

      And it's nice to have a lot of different units. I find it easy to think in terms of a pint of ice cream, or a gallon of milk. I like a cup of flour, or a teaspoon of cinnamon. Not just because I've grown up with these units -- these units give me words for the quantities I deal with. I don't want long numbers, I don't want 750ml of something. That number is out of scale with the way the mind works.

      Also, base 12 is a lot better than base 10. You can divide 12 by 2, 3, 4, and 6. Being divisable by 3 is particularly useful. That's why people use degrees, and no one uses gradians -- degrees are vastly superior for normal measurements. And of course, that's why time will never go metric. Not all English measurements are base 12, but when they are it's nice. I'm not sure when base 10 was really decided on -- was it the Romans or the Indians or the Arabs who made that conclusion? Maybe it was earlier -- it probably was a vague evolution. It's too bad they didn't follow the Babylonians.

      Anyway, SI units are great for engineers. They have to multiply and convert all the time anyway, and it makes that easier. SI units are bad for people. They don't give us the language to describe our world. That the US is slow to adopt metric, and the UK still trails Europe, might have something to do with who is in control of the culture. For instance, no one dictates what is proper English -- proper English is what people use, in practice and by definition. This is not true in much of Europe -- their languages are prescribed. There are many official bodies that define what is correct and incorrect language. Unsurprising that their units are prescribed too. (Of course, generalizing this cultural power too far might be a bad idea -- but language and units go together)

      • Also, base 12 is a lot better than base 10. You can divide 12 by 2, 3, 4, and 6. Being divisable by 3 is particularly useful.

        This is all well and good, but until we standardise on one or the other we'll still have the ultimate decimal vs imperial problem: Hot Dogs come in 10s, Finger Rolls come in 12s. This means you have to make 60 hot dogs in order to avoid waste!
    • >
      When is the US going to officially switch to the SI unit system[?], sic.

      For all I know the US has already tried to officially switch twice, one of them had former President Carter signing something like a law or executive directive, but no one took notice not even public schools nor public roads nor state regulations.

  • already ./ed (Score:4, Informative)

    by bohnsack ( 2301 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @10:49PM (#3824787)
    503 Service Temporarily Unavailable

    Google cache is here []

  • Much like the previous article on changing US bills for the sake of convenience, I think the amount of work it would take to not only convert all the hardware and software out there, but getting people used to it, would outweigh the benefits for far too long.

    Besides, Swatch's internet time has been around forever, and few besides the geeky have paid attention to it.

  • For the first step, we need to get some really big rocket engines so that we can make it so that the Earth only rotates 100 times in a year. Or 10 or 1000.
  • Ob Google cache (Score:2, Informative)

    by alienmole ( 15522 )
    Slashdotted already? Here's the Google cache [] of the page.
  • Metric Time (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FigBugDeux ( 257259 )
    So how do you divide 356 by 10? Or is a year now 1000 days?

    i think time haw to relate to how long it takes the earth to go around the sun and how long it takes the earth to spin about... not like distance or wieght which really isn't based on anything... maybe the article covers this, but i can't get to it.
  • Their base unit could be how long their server survived /.
  • by ffsnjb ( 238634 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @10:51PM (#3824796) Homepage
    Do we suddenly change the measurement units for navigation also? 60:60:24 exists for a reason, and directly translates to measurements in navigation (latitude and longitude.) Sounds like a blast.
    • by os2fan ( 254461 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @11:49PM (#3825122) Homepage
      That the 24 hour day is an Egyptian invention, based on a decimaldivision of the "day" + morning + twilight + the rising of 12 of their 36 signs. The 36 signs relate to their 10 day week.

      The division into 60 is a Sumerian system, but their native system is to divide the day into powers of 60.

      The uniform hours divided by base 60 is a Greek invention. The Romans divided the hour into 12 uncia. [The romans used weight-fractions: the unit = 1 libra: therefore a scruple of time is 12 1/2 seconds = 1/288 hour]

      The metric system was meant to replace the angle and the length with a decimally divided quadrant: so it would be appropriate to divide the quarter day likewise. It makes some sense to do it like this.

      Of course, you can consistantly divide the circle, day, and circumference into any system. Eg I use a circle divided into powers of 120, a nautical system of a marinal (9120 ft) of 120 segments (76 ft). This is the 'minute' and 'second' of the base 120 system. The day is divided into 12 hours of 120 min of 120 seconds

      You can use other divisions as well, eg a decimally divided circle.

      One thing I keep in mind is the clock division. In our clock, the hours use the major markings, which serve as multiples of the minute. So you could, in something like base 14, use a day divided into 16 hours of 56 minutes a peice. The clock is divided into hour-octants, each of sevenths.

    • Ironically, what you suggest is called the Universal Transverse Mercator [] grid, it's already build into all decent GPS models and yes it's based on Metrics.
  • ... 0 minutes to an hour, 25 hours to a day, ...


    Disclaimer: I too am an American, calm down.

  • 25 hours to a day

    ummmm.... ?
    i think we found who stole the crack from the space shuttle...

  • Time (Score:2, Informative)

    by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 )
    Yes, the current system of time makes sense.

    The time system in current use is a standard that the SI has signed off on, so it is Metric Time.

    Actually, there is absolutly no reason to revamp how the global standards for time keeping are operated.

    Good page about time history. .html

    Here are Yahoo links to the page about alternative schemes. it s/Time/Alternative_Schemes/
  • 10 months to a year, 10 days to the month, 10 hours to the day. 10 minutes to the hour, 10 seconds to the minute. Might as well force pi to be 3 while you're at it. Or how about 10?

  • TV programs (Score:2, Funny)

    by junkgrep ( 266550 )
    An interesting caveat in there about how metric hours wouldn't be very useful for evenly blocking out television programs of the length we are accustomed to. But which came first: is there something crucial about the 30/60 min timeslot (with ads), that is inherent to the human attention span? Or is it simply a case of people becoming accustomed to that length of time. If programs were generally 35 minutes instead of 30, or 70 instead of 60, I would guess that the depth of the narrative structures of most programs benefit greatly. Maybe there's a real psysiological limit for which that's pushing people's time too far, or maybe it's mere convention to keep tracking easier.

    Personally, I think metric time would lead to exactly what it led to in France: lots and lots of public decapitations.
  • ...but it might have been another comedy sketch show (and this was long ago) with a comedy skit about a conversion to "metric time", moving to a "100-hour day". While the "hour" would be altered by changes to the minutes and seconds, one "day" amounted to three sunrise/sunset periods.

    Wish I could find an MPG of that. Wonder why no one else seems to remember it...
  • by RobinH ( 124750 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @10:55PM (#3824828) Homepage
    When I learned "metric" time in school, the idea was there was a set order that everything appeared in: biggest to smallest. Therefore, the time now is 2002 07 04 23:04. That still makes a lot of sense to me, compared with 7/4/02. It always confuses me - which is the month, and which is the day? Just to be sure, I've actually started spelling out the month like this: 4 JUL 2002. That way, there's no doubt.
    • I know what you mean, the dd/mm/yy and mm/dd/yy confusion is just ridiculous.

      What is the point of putting it in such an arbitrary order as month, day, year anyway?
    • Personally, I like to use the Japanese system in my own personal notes. In Japanese, you rarely use slashes: the language a very nice system to avoid confusion. They have easy-to-write ideograms meaning "year", "month" and "day". E.g. to write july 4th, 2002, you would write:

      2002 <year> 07 <month> 04 <day>

      (where <year> is the ideogram meaning "year", etc.) They also have characters for the days of the week which can be written much faster than English words. I can't write Japanese in a slashdot post, but check out for example the "old stories" sidebar on the right on [] to see what it looks like.

      This is so neat that I wish English would adopt a similar system. If we introduced a few simple symbols that meant "year", "month" and "day" and appended them to the numbers, there would never be a problem. Unfortunately, because our writing system is so glyph-starved, and it never even occurs to anybody that characters outside our 40 or so symbols could exist, this will probably never happen.

      • I can entirely understand the European way of using the date (D-M-YY) because we all read left to right and that way you get to the day first, which is most likely to be the one you don't know and reason you are checking the date in the first place. The US system has always really confused me having the date buried in the middle, which seems pretty illogical.

        Fortunately the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) already solved this problem ages ago.

        I use the ISO 8601 for ALL my date's (e.g. cheque books, invoices, legal documents) because it's ambiguity free, the format being:

        YYYY-M-D (e.g. 2002-7-5)

        It would be much easier if everyone could get used to doing this. I like to rant on bank clerks and anybody who asks me to date a legal document and who don't understand this as all international organisations (e.g. banks) should be using this format (especially ones here in London and in other international cities like New York).

        The ISO 8601 date standard also makes sense from a decimal point of view in that it is "biggest to smallest".

    • I admin a fansite for a game, and put datestamps on a lot of things. I'm australian, but half my visitors are american - and most of the rest european - the *only* way to be unambiguous is to stamp things '4 Jul 2002' or equivalent. (Well, when you write things to html pages, anyway. The Database can store things however it likes!)

      As for the Metric system - for time - if anyone wants to see Decimal Time in use, there needs to be a simple way of marking decimal time as Decimal time (a D up the front, perhaps?) so that people don't get confused. Handy conversion ratios and utilities would also help. Then it can be adopted by a few groups of people, bit by bit, and spread as appropriate to its usefulness ...

      The normal 'second' is pretty well entrenched. Come to that, I've seen 'kiloseconds' in use in some scientific contexts.

      I find it interesting that I thought the most awkward thing with establishing metric time would be finding good names for the units (especially the 'hour' equivalents, 1/10th of a day) - then I read the article, and that's a large part of what it covers :-)

  • This sounds somewhat like the Saturday Night Live "Decibet" reform for the alphabet!

  • ...because 60 is evenly divisible by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 10. So dividing the day into 60 hours, each of which contains 60 minutes, and each minute of which contains 60 seconds, would probably be more convenient.
  • "Remember this date folks, 80 past 10 on April 40th, we have officially switched to metric time..."

    What's the line, and when was the last time they played that episode?
  • Time be time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Alpha State ( 89105 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @10:58PM (#3824846) Homepage

    60 seconds to a minute, 60 minutes to an hour, 25 hours to a day, all the way to 365 days to a year.

    Yeah, we should really change it to 100 days per year, that would be much easier. The only time we may need a new time format is if we seriously get into space, and I can't see that happening in my lifetime.

    Personally, I'd just be happy if people started writing dates and times in a common format, even if it's the USA's confusing mm/dd/yyyy version.

    • iso-8601 (Score:5, Informative)

      by coyote-san ( 38515 ) on Friday July 05, 2002 @01:49AM (#3825624)
      IIRC, ISO-8601 is the spec for dates and times. It's 2002-07-04, or 2002W264 (if you prefer week numbers and days-of-week, plus variants for Julian days (not Julian Dates, which are entirely different), etc.

      Most people who have tried it quickly like it. It's also trivial to sort dates without special logic.

      Unfortunately, I think Windows apps may still not really support it. I remember trying to switch to it during Y2K, and a lot of programs barfed on this format (giving me an oh-so-useful blank field) even while working on silly formats like d/y/m.
  • The French tried to implement this a long time ago. It just didn't take.

    It was just too much of an adjustment.

    Seconds were okay... minutes were too short, hours were too long... things just didn't quite seem right.

  • or will metric time make dates/timestamps become almost like dates/timestamps in Star Trek?
  • Remember a while back at the height of the Internet boom, Swatch tried to get everyone to accept Swatch Time []
    How long is a Swatch .beat? In short, we have divided up the virtual and real day into 1000 ".beats". One Swatch beat is the equivalent of 1 minute 26.4 seconds. That means that 12 noon in the old time system is the equivalent of @500 Swatch .beats.

    How is this possible? We are not just creating a new way of measuring time, we are also creating a new meridian in Biel, Switzerland, home of Swatch. Biel MeanTime (BMT) is the universal reference for Internet Time. A day in Internet Time begins at midnight BMT (@000 Swatch .beats) (Central European Wintertime). The meridian is marked for all to see on the façade of the Swatch International Headquarters on Jakob-Staempfli Street, Biel, Switzerland. So, it is the same time all over the world, be it night or day, the era of time zones has disappeared.
    I guess it never really took off..
  • Aside from the 25 hours a day in the post, I can't see how the fuck this is supposed to be funny. Are we supposed to be laughing at the idea of metric or something?
  • by cwills ( 200262 ) on Thursday July 04, 2002 @11:09PM (#3824907)
    One of the interesting properites about using the 60, 60, 24 is the number of divisors..

    To wit..

    60 can be evenly divided by 2, 3, and 5 (and multiples of those).

    24 can be evenly divided by 2 and 3 (and multiples of those).

    It is also one of the reasons why 12 inches is still popular ( 12 can be divided by 2, and 3) so that you can have 1/2 and 1/3 (or multiples of those) of a foot without getting into fractional inches.

    However decimal (metric) runs into problems. You only get 2 and 5 as the multiples without getting into "weird" decimals. Exactly how many centimeters is 1/3 of a meter? how many millimeters?
  • The decimal day (10 hrs of 100 minutes of 100 seconds), does not work well with the metric system. The km/h and m/s would be respectively too slow and too fast.

    The system was actually a division of the world circumference into 400, eg 40,000 km. Dividing the day into 40 kilohesits, each of 1000 hesits wuld make 1 km/kh = 1 m/h, etc.

    If the plan had been to base a system on decimal divisions of the circle/day/earth circumference, then a unit of 4 km, divided into 10000 units of 400 m/m, would be more appropriate: 1 mph = 1 eps.

    But why bother with decimal time, when there is base 120?

  • Damn Nerds! (Score:4, Funny)

    by ImaLamer ( 260199 ) <john,lamar&gmail,com> on Thursday July 04, 2002 @11:15PM (#3824941) Homepage Journal
    Why do nerds have to screw up everything for everyone else?

    I just don't get it. VCR programming now this.

  • Yes, you could divide days into funny measurements, and change weeks; but the most needed change is away from the 28/29/30/31-day months (yes, only one has 28, and only once every 4 years is there 29...) The year could be almost perfectly divided into 13 28-day months. (hence the origin of 'month', look it up.) Then you'd be left over with one 'extra' day. It would be perfect for new years. Heck, I also think that the seasons should be CENTERED on the equinoxes and solstices, shouldn't they? So that the very MIDDLE of Summer is the longest day of the year, instead of the very END? And, the year should begin either on the Winter Solstice, or halfway between then and the spring equinox, shouldn't it?

    But, enough of my rambling. I think a 13 28-day month calendar, with 4 perfect 7-day weeks a month, is better. Yes, then you could change the individual days to have metric times, such as 10 'hours', with 100 'minutes' per hour, and 100 seconds per minute. That comes out to 1.14 new seconds per old second. (so a 'new second' would be only slightly faster/shorter than an old second.)

    While we're at it, we need to re-number the years. One: Most of the world isn't Christian. Two: It has been determined that the current calendar is something like 6 years off. So, based on when Jesus was actually born, it should really be A.D. 2008. (I think. I know the 'real' figure has been determined, I just can't remember what it is.) We should re-number based on something definite, that we know factually exactly when it happened. There was one organization a few years back that was trying to get it re-numbered based on the moon landing (it also recommended a 13-month calendar, with 'new years' falling on what is currently July 20, being newly called 'Armstrong Day', and leap day would be 'Aldrin Day', to keep all 13 months always at 28 days.)

    Unfortunately, what havok would THAT cause to computers?!
  • Base 10 vs. Base 12 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rui del-Negro ( 531098 ) on Friday July 05, 2002 @12:42AM (#3825339) Homepage
    We use base 10 because we were born with 10 fingers. But that doesn't make it the "best" numeric base. In fact, base 12 has a lot of advantages over base 10. 10 can only be divided by 5 and 2. 12 can be divided by 6, 4, 3 and 2.

    Time is based on bases 24 and 60, which are multiples of 12. It's easy to count exacly half a day (12 hours), one third of a day (8 hours) and one quarter of a day (6 hours). The happen to correspond (roughly) to day / night, awake / asleep and morning / day / afternoon / night, which are "important" periods from a biological & natural point of view. Same goes for years (if a year had 10 months, each season would be 2.5 months long, and seasons are not quite as "artificial" as they may seem).

    Here are a couple of pages about base 12:

    DGSB []

    StudyWorks []

    Of course, changing everything from base 10 to base 12 would be more trouble than it's worth, but there's no reason to "downgrade" the way we count time just to comply with a "rule" that exists only because some people count by their fingers. I suppose men could learn to use base 11 with a bit of training... :-]

    The main problem with the way we keep time is converting quickly (mentally) between seconds, minutes and hours. But the solution is pretty simple: always work in seconds (the SI unit).

    P.S. - In fact, it's possible to count up to 32 using just one hand (think binary), but I've never met anyone who does it intuitively.

  • by gafferted ( 560272 ) on Friday July 05, 2002 @02:40AM (#3825817)
    The poster complains: 365 days to a year

    I think that perhaps, he underestimates the difficulty involved in slowing the planet down to 100 revolutions per orbit.


    • I think that perhaps, he underestimates the difficulty involved in slowing the planet down to 100 revolutions per orbit. Well we'll just speed it up to 1000 revolutions per orbit then smartguy :-p

  • France tried it (Score:5, Informative)

    by james_orr ( 574634 ) on Friday July 05, 2002 @03:01AM (#3825898) Homepage

    After the revolution.

    The new "de-christianised" calendar started in 1793 and was retroactive to 1792. The year started on September 22nd and consisted of 12 months of 30 days apiece. Each month was divided into decades of 10 days.

    The end of the year had 5 days (6 on leap years) designated by roman numerals.

    This was France's official calendar until 1806.

    I don't think they changed the number of hours in the day though.

    • by anticypher ( 48312 ) <anticypher&gmail,com> on Friday July 05, 2002 @07:02AM (#3826538) Homepage
      After the revolution, from 1923 to 1931, the russians used a 5 day week, with 6 weeks in each month, and 12 months in each year. The extra 5 days were specially named holidays related to revolutionary dates. Each worker got 1 day in 30 off, staggered throughout the community so no more than 1/30th of the workers were off each day. (Not everybody in russia used the calendar. The navy stuck to the gregorian calendar because all their navigation books were in that format, tribal regions stayed with their historic versions, others just ignored the decree)

      It was a complete disaster, the idea was to get an extra boost from worker productivity by not allowing weekends or other time off. It had the opposite effect, workers were exhausted after 29 days of continuous work, and productivity fell dramatically.

      In 1931, they switched to a 6 day week, with 5 week months, and one day each week was a rest day for everyone. Productivity jumped 50% or more in the first few months of using the new calendar.

      This should be a lesson to managers who try to pull too much work out of their employees. People need time off on a regular basis to recover from the effects of working 8+ hours per day for 5 or 6 days. After spending too much time working, the body and mind can't maintain the output.

      the AC
      The french revolutionary calendar started with year 1, but they made it retroactive a year and called that year 0. Programmers!

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"