One Galleon is 17 Sickles and one Sickle is 29 Knuts... The wizarding currency isn’t too simple or practical, is it? Muggles also have struggled for ages with overcomplicated, inconsistent systems of units. But then we adapted the SI – and since then we got used to using this simple, decimal system.
There is one thing though that we still measure in strange units. 60 seconds go in a minute, 60 minutes go in an hour, 24 hours go in a day. There’s 365 days in a year, except when it’s 366, and they can be divided into 52 weeks of 7 days, with some days left over, or alternatively into 12 months of 28, 29, 30 or 31 days each, depending on... reasons.
Could we simplify all that mess?
Of course we could. I don’t think we will though. Many people have tried and failed. Still, why not think about it, purely theoretically?
A day is pretty easy to divide into 10-based fractions. If we divide current 24 hours into ten parts, we end up with 2.4 hour = 144 minute blocks. If we divide those in a hundred parts, we get blocks of 86.4 seconds. Both units (1/10 of a day, and 1/1000 of a day) seem to be just as useful units of time, as “hours” and “minutes”. But instead of being a 24×60×60 system, it’s the familiar 10×10×10.
And what about timezones? They’re a huge improvement over local solar time already, but in this globalised world what if we got rid of them altogether? Instead of 14:00 in Berlin being 8:00 in Washington D.C., the same number would mean exactly the same moment in time. That’s already how many computers keep time – as a number of seconds since 1970-01-01 00:00:00 UTC, they just display it differently for different people (see Unix timestamp). What if “@500” meant exactly the same moment, regardless of where you are? It just happens to be in the evening in Amsterdam, but around noon in New York.
Which day of week was November 19, 2013? Well, I know that, because it’s my anniversary, but otherwise, I’d have to look it up. We need calendars (or some extra effort counting days) to simply find out which day of month is it on the Thursday in two weeks. We need to take a moment to figure out how many days does February have this year...
What if there were no difference between “month” and “week”? If dates were predictable, the same each year? If it was all 10-based?
Say hello to the French Republican Calendar, which does exactly that. I’d rather use a slightly modified version, but the main idea stays the same:
The year is split into 36 weeks of 10 days. The remaining 5 or 6 days form a special half-week and the end of year. If we start indexing from 0 (as we already do with time, the clock starts at 0:00, not at 1:01), we can easily see from the date, which week and which day was it – for example day 123 is the day 3 of week 12. Simple.
I’ve decided to write a simple script that converts our current date and time into this decimal-based system. As a starting point I’ve chosen the first day of spring, 2000-03-21 06:00 UTC (leap year rules stay the same).
Here’s how it works in practice:
about the author
hello! my name is andrea. i code and write a blog. welcome to my personal part of the internet!
quite some time ago i wrote a post in which i ranted about how i got disppointed by esperanto being advertised to me as “very simple”, yet i was able to find so many ways to make it simpler still.
so… i'm creating a language (as a passion project, not really expecting it to be actually used) in which i'm focusing on simplicity – and one of those simplifications is… completely dropping capital letters. why?
I don’t really like Esperanto. As a language. As an idea I love it from all my heart! ️ That message of unity, peace and understanding though a common language! That brilliance of simplification and unification!
But I’ve always seen it advertised as “extremely simple”. Simple indeed, but extremely? You can certainly do better!