Monday, May 25, 2009

Decimal Time

Another child of the French Revolution is decimal time. Once again, this is the kind of stuff I love diving into. It's fascinating and it gives me a new perspective on our own system, somethinig that's hard to achieve when most of the world is on standard time.

Decimal time was used in conjunction with the French Republic Calendar. It had 10 hours with 100 minutes, each minute being 100 seconds. By this system, midnight is 10, noon is 5. Weird, huh? A second in decimal time is still called a second (by Wikipedia, anyways), but it is completely different. Standard time has 86,400 seconds in one day, decimal time has 100,000, so their seconds must be a bit shorter.

Here are some conversions via Wikipediaa to put it in perspective:

Decimal to Standard

* One decimal second is 86,400/100,000 = 0.864 standard seconds.
* One decimal minute is 1,440/1,000 = 1.44 standard minutes, or 1 standard minute and 26.4 standard seconds.
* One decimal hour is 24/10 = 2.4 standard hours, or 2 standard hours and 24 standard minutes.

Standard to Decimal

* One standard second = 1.15740 decimal seconds
* One standard minute = 69.44 decimal seconds (or .69 decimal minutes)
* One standard hour = 4,166.67 decimal seconds (or 41 decimal minutes and 67 decimal seconds)

I find this fascinating, and I have to wonder how big a change this must have been (it was 1795 when this was made mandatory), and then of course they had to change back 10 years later in 1805. Nowadays with cell phones and internet conversions it would be much easier to keep track of what time I know it as and what time it is officially. Back What a change it must have been.

Just wanted to throw that in with the calendar talk. More food for thought.


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