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Metric Time

May 1, 2012

This I had always thought if all of the other units of measurement were supposed to be converted to metric (based on divisions of 10), then why was time omitted? If we got rid of the “inch” for space measurment, and had a “centimeter” instead; and other units like grams, liters, and Celsius (centigrade) degrees, then why stick around with the old “second”? In fact, in astronomical calculations, where hours, days, weeks, etc. are irrelevant, they have made a metric system based on the second (milliseconds, microseconds, etc). They didn’t make “kiloinches”, “decifeet”, “megapounds”, or “centigallons”, but rather created whole new units, based on logical points of measurement, like the freezing or boiling point of water being 0 or 100 degrees Celsius. The same units were then projected back to absolute zero, and when begun on that scale, called Kelvins.
A type of metric time I first saw when working the Census was using “.5” instead of “:30” and “.25” instead of “:15”, etc. Nice idea, but I wish it was taken further. So I figured, why not take the most obvious and necessary unit of time on earth, the day, and divide it down into new units. (Units larger than a day wouldn’t work well, because of the seasons and year). I started by dividing the day by 10, and continuing to divide each unit by 10, until I got to a unit of time most comparable to the second. here, in minutes:seconds–

1/10=144:00
1/100=14:24
1/1000=1:26.4
1/10000=00:08 (8.64)
1/100,000=00:0.864

So the new metric second would be 1/100,000th of a day, and slightly smaller than a second. Sort of like the temporal counterpart to the centimeter. Since below “centi” (10-2), only powers divisible by 3 were given Greek prefixes (-3, “milli”; -6, “micro”, etc), there was no way to name this new unit with a standard SI prefix like the others. I suggested a hybrid prefix, centimilli, meaning of course, one hundredth of a thousandth. So it would be “centimilliday”. Hour-like units would be 1/20= 00:72:00, (“semideciday”), at 72 minutes. Or 1/25= 00:57:36, which is about 2½ minutes short of an hour.

Here is the conversion between our time (military and 12 hour) and the new time.

0000 (12:00A) 00:000
00:14:24 1000
12:15 ≈ 01:041
00:28:48 2000
12:30 ≈ 02:083
00:43:12 3000
12:4503:125 (1/32)
00:57:36 4000 (1/25)
12:59:24 04:125
1:00 ≈ 04:166
1:12:00 5000 (1/20)
1:26:24 6000
1:30 06:250 (1/16)
1:40:48 7000
1:55:12 8000 (2/25)
2:00 ≈ 08:333
2:00:36 08:375
2:09:36 9000
2:15 09:375
2:24:00 10000
2:52:48 12000 (3/25)
3:00 12:500
3:36:00 15000
3:45 15:625
3:50:24 16000 (4/25)
3:59:2416:625
4:00 ≈ 16:666
4:48:00 20000(5/25)
5:00 ≈ 20:833
5:45:36 24000(6/25)
6:00 25:000
6:43:12 28000 (7/25)
7:00 ≈ 29:166
7:12 30000
7:40:48 32000 (8/25)
8:00 ≈ 33:333
8:24 35000
8:38:24 36000 (9/25)
9:00 37:500
9:36 40000 (10/25)
10:00 ≈ 41:666
10:33:12 44000 (11/25)
10:48 45000
11:00 ≈ 45:833
11:31:12 48000 (12/25)
12:00 50:000
12:28:48 52000 (13/25)
1300 (1:00P)≈ 54:166
1312 55000
1:36:24 56000 (14/25)
1400 (2:00P)≈ 58:333
1424 60000 (15/25)
1500 (3:00P)62:500
15:21:36 64000 (16/25)
1536 65000
1600 (4:00P)≈66:666
16:19:12 68000 (17/25)
1648 70000
1700 (5:00P)≈70:833
17:16:48 72000(18/25)
1800 (6:00P) 75:000
18:14:24 76000 (19/25)
1900 (7:00P)≈79:166
1912 80000 (20/25)
2000 (8:00P)≈83:333
20:09:36 84000 (21/25)
2024 85000
2100 (9:00P) 87:500
21:06:24 88000 (22/25)
2136 90000
2200 (10:00P)≈ 91:666
22:04:48 92000 (23/25)
2248 95000
2300 (11:00)≈ 95:833
23:02:24 96000 (24/25)

Come to find out, that I am not the first one to think of this at all! This system was actually planned back in France around the same time as the rest of the metric units (1700’s) and even implemented before the others, but then decided against. I guess because of the almost universal worldwide use of the standard 12-based system. The system is now called “Decimal Time”, and I even found a website and forum on this, (http://www.decimaltime.hynes.net) where I shared my ideas. One of the discussions was a name for the new metric second. Suggestions have been “tick” and “beat” (the heartbeat is said to be the same length as this 100,000th of a day!) I even hear of, and went to see a watch by Swatch using this system, in its Times Square store! Also, astronomers, beginning with John Herschel (Outlines of Astronomy) in 1849, use another version of this called fractional days to represent time in their writings. (http://decimaltime.hynes.net/fraction.html).
Also, the decimal time they use is apart of what they call “Universal Time” (UT), and begins at 8PM at a particular time zone, rather then midnight in every time zone.

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