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Metric time: a mental stimulation

Metric time: a mental stimulation

If most of the world deals with metric weight, volume and length, then why not metric time?While there was a serious effort to change the names of months during the French Revolution in the late 18th century, it never really caught on. And metric time probably never will either. But let’s have fun with it for a moment (a non-metric moment).

For this to happen, the only basic unit of time that would have to change, by necessity, is the value of a second. Instead of 86,400 seconds in a day we would need to fill one day with precisely 100,000 seconds. That’s an additional 13,600 seconds. More seconds per unit time (a day) means shorter individual seconds to accommodate the increased number of them. So a second would now pass faster (by about 15%).

But to satisfy “metric taxonomy” with 100,000 seconds to a day (lasting 24 regular hours), that day should be composed of 10 metric hours. Each hour would last 100 metric minutes and each minute takes 100 metric seconds to complete. So it all works out to 100,000 seconds per day. Of course, we’d need 10 months, not 12, in a year. Unfortunately, May and October are out! (the most obvious candidates since they are the current 5th and 10th months). Each even month would be 36 days long and each odd month 37 days in length, adding up to 365 days per year. But a year is in reality 365 ¼ days long. To fix that, all odd years would be leap years with December sporting 37 rather than 36 days, except years ending in 01, 21, 41, 61, and 81keeping 36 days just to make it work perfectly.

Clocks must only have 10 hours on their face, with no AM or PM. Instead of working from 8 AM to 5 PM, it would be more like “3.3 to 6.7”. What about time zones? Well, latitude and longitude go metric too, by necessity. The North Pole becomes 100 degrees North, not 90, and the International Date Line now resides at 200 degrees Longitude, not 180. A circle has 400 degrees instead of 360. More importantly, there are 20 time zones of 20 degrees longitude a piece. And each time zone would be 0.5 hours (50 minutes) different from the next one, not the nice round 1 hour like now.

The good news is you’d only work about 3.3 hours per day and about 16.5 hours in a work week (anything more would be metric overtime). But those metric hours are much longer than you are used to. In the end, when will mankind be ready to “go metric” for time measurement? Maybe by the ‘time’ we land someone on Mars, but even then it’s a stretch- a metric stretch.