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Time

by Liliana Usvat

The SI base unit for time is the SI second. From the second, larger units such as the minute, hour and day are defined, though they are "non-SI" units because they do not use the decimal system, and also because of the occasional need for a leap second. They are, however, officially accepted for use with the International System. There are no fixed ratios between seconds and months or years as months and years have significant variations in length.

The official SI definition of the second is as follows

The second is the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom.

At its 1997 meeting, the CIPM affirmed that this definition refers to a caesium atom in its ground state at a temperature of 0 K.Previous to 1967, the second was defined as:

the fraction 1/31,556,925.9747 of the tropical year for 1900 January 0 at 12 hours ephemeris time.

The current definition of the second, coupled with the current definition of the metre, is based on the special theory of relativity, which affirms our space-time to be a Minkowski space. In this setting the three ordinary dimensions of space are combined with a single dimension of time to form a four-dimensional manifold for representing a spacetime.

History of Calendar.

Julius Caesar introduced his calendar in 45 B.C.E., he made 1 January the start of the year, and it was always the date on which the Solar Number and the Golden Number were incremented.

However, the church didn’t like the wild parties that took place at the start of the new year, and in C.E. 567 the council of Tours declared that having the year start on 1 January was an ancient mistake that should be abolished.

Through the middle ages various New Year dates were used. If an ancient document refers to year X, it may mean any of 7 different periods in our present system:1 Mar X to 28/29 Feb X+1
1 Jan X to 31 Dec X
1 Jan X-1 to 31 Dec X-1
25 Mar X-1 to 24 Mar X
25 Mar X to 24 Mar X+1
Saturday before Easter X to Friday before Easter X+1
25 Dec X-1 to 24 Dec X

Choosing the right interpretation of a year number is difficult, so much more as one country might use different systems for religious and civil needs.

The Byzantine Empire used a year starting on 1 Sep, but they didn’t count years since the birth of Christ, instead they counted years since the creation of the world which they dated to 1 September 5509 B.C.E.

Since about 1600 most countries have used 1 January as the first day of the year. Italy and England, however, did not make 1 January official until around 1750.

In England (but not Scotland) three different years were used:
The historical year, which started on 1 January.

The liturgical year, which started on the first Sunday in advent.

The civil year, which from the 7th to the 12th century started on 25 December,
from the 12th century until 1751 started on 25 March,
from 1752 started on 1 January.

Before today’s Gregorian calendar was adopted, the older Julian calendar was used. It was admirably close to the actual length of the year, as it turns out, but the Julian calendar was not so perfect that it didn’t slowly shift off track over the following centuries. But, hundreds of years later, monks were the only ones with any free time for scholarly pursuits – and they were discouraged from thinking about the matter of "secular time" for any reason beyond figuring out when to observe Easter. In the Middle Ages, the study of the measure of time was first viewed as prying too deeply into God’s own affairs – and later thought of as a lowly, mechanical study, unworthy of serious contemplation.

As a result, it wasn’t until 1582, by which time Caesar’s calendar had drifted a full 10 days off course, that Pope Gregory XIII (1502 - 1585) finally reformed the Julian calendar. Ironically, by the time the Catholic church buckled under the weight of the scientific reasoning that pointed out the error, it had lost much of its power to implement the fix. Protestant tract writers responded to Gregory’s calendar by calling him the "Roman Antichrist" and claiming that its real purpose was to keep true Christians from worshiping on the correct days. The "new" calendar, as we know it today, was not adopted uniformly across Europe until well into the 18th century.

Year 0

The concept of a year "zero" is a modern myth (but a very popular one). In our calendar, C.E. 1 follows immediately after 1 B.C.E. with no intervening year zero.

Our year reckoning was established by Dionysius Exiguus in the 6th century. Dionysius let the year C.E. 1 start one week after what he believed to be Jesus’ birthday. But Dionysius’ calculations were wrong. The Gospel of Matthew tells us that Jesus was born under the reign of king Herod the Great, who died in 4 B.C.E.. It is likely that Jesus was actually born around 7 B.C.E.. The date of his birth is unknown; it may or may not be 25 December.

History of calendars

Roman calendar and Julian calendar

Roman dates were calculated "from the founding of the city" of Rome, or ab urbe condita (AUC). This was assumed to be 750 BC, although calculations by Marcus Terentius Varro in the 1st century BC determined 753 BC to be the founding date.An alternative system had become more common even by Varro's time, whereby the Romans referred to the names of the consuls rather than the date of the year.References to the year of consulship were used in both conversation and official records. There were two consuls at any one time, and sometimes they each held several terms, meaning that one had to be well educated in history to understand the references. The two systems were compatible; so that the consulship of Quintus Fufius Calenus and Publius Vatinius could be determined as 707 AUC (or 47 BC), the consulship of Caius Julius Caesar (III) and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus as 708 AUC (or 46 BC), and the consulship of Caius Julius Caesar (IV) as 709 AUC (or 45 BC).

The Romans had an eight-day week, with the market-day falling every eight days.

The old Roman year had 304 days divided into 10 months, beginning on XI Kal. Maius, or 21 April.The extra months Ianuarius and Februarius had been invented as stop-gaps. Julius Caesar realised that the system had become inoperable, so he effected drastic changes in the year of his third consulship. The New Year in 709 AUC began on 1 January and ran over 365 days until 31 December. Further adjustments were made under Augustus, who introduced the concept of the "leap year" in 737 AUC (AD 4).The resultant Julian calendar remained in almost universal use in Europe until 1582.

Sumerian calendar

The ancient Sumerian calendar divided a year into 12 lunar months of 29 or 30 days. Each month began with the sighting of a new moon. Sumerian months had no uniform name throughout Sumer because of the religious diversity. This resulted in scribes and scholars referring to them as "the first month", "the fifth month" etc.[citation needed] To keep the lunar year of 354 days in step with the solar year of 365.25 days an extra month was added periodically, much like a Gregorian leap year. Also, every six years the Sumerian calendar included an extra month of 62 days.
There were no weeks in the Sumerian calendar. Holy days and time off from work were usually celebrated on the first, seventh and fifteenth of each month. In addition to these holy days, there were also feast days which varied from city to city. A day was divided into twelve hours, six daylight hours, each lasting one-sixth of the day, and six nighttime hours, each lasting one-sixth of the night. This meant the length of hours varied from season to season, daylight hours being shorter in the winter and longer in the summer and vice versa.

Mayan calendar

Of all the ancient calendar systems, the Maya and other Mesoamerican systems are the most complex. The Mayan calendar had 2 years, the 260-day Sacred Round, or tzolkin, and the 365-day Vague Year, or haab.

The Sacred Round of 260 days is composed of two smaller cycles: the numbers 1 through 13, coupled with 20 different day names: Imix, Ik, Akbal, Kan, Chicchan, Cimi, Manik, Lamat, Muluc, Oc, Chuen, Eb, Ben, Ix, Men, Cib, Caban, Eiznab, Cauac, and Ahau. The Sacred Round was used to determine important activities related to the gods and humans: name individuals, predict the future, decide on auspicious dates for battles, marriages, and so on.

The two cycles of 13 and 20 intermesh and are repeated without interruption: the cycle would begin with 1 Imix, then 2 Ik, then 3 Akbal and so on until the number 13 was reached, at which point the number cycle was restarted so 13 Ben would be followed by 1 Ix, 2 Men and so on. This time Imix would be numbered 8. The cycle ended after 260 days, with the last day being 13 Ahau.

The Vague Year of 365 days is similar to our modern calendar, consisting of 18 months of 20 days each, with an unlucky five-day period at the end. The Vague Year had to do primarily with the seasons and agriculture, and was based on the solar cycle. The 18 Maya months are known, in order, as: Pop, Uo, Zip, Zotz, Tzec, Xuc, Yaxkin, Mol, Chen, Yax, Zac, Ceh, Mac, Kankin, Maun, Pax, Kayab and Cumku. The unlucky five-day period was known as Uayeb, and was considered a time which could hold danger, death and bad luck.

The Vague Year began with the month of Pop. The Maya 20-day month always begins with the seating of the month, followed by days numbered 1 to 19, then the seating of the following month, and so on. This ties in with the Maya notion that each month influences the next. The Maya new year would start with 1 Pop, followed by 2 Pop, all the way through to 19 Pop, followed by the seating of the month of Uo, written as 0 Uo, then 1 Uo, 2 Uo and so on. These two cycles coincided every 52 years. The 52-year period of time was called a "bundle" and was similar to a modern day century.

The ancient Athenian calendar

The ancient Athenian calendar was a lunisolar calendar with 354 day years, consisting of twelve months of alternating length of 29 or 30 days. To keep the calendar in line with the solar year of 365.25 days, an extra, intercalary month was added in every other year.

The Athenian months were called Hekatombion, Metageitnion, Boedromion, Pyanepsion, Maimakterion, Poseidon, Gamelion, Anthesterion, Elaphebolion, Munychion, Thargelion, and Skirophorion.

The intercalary month usually came after Poseidon, and was called second Poseidon. In addition to their regular, "festival" calendar, the Athenians maintained a second, political calendar . This "conciliar" calendar divided the year into "prytanies", one for each of the "phylai", the subdivisions of Athenian citizens. The number of phylai, and hence the number of prytanies, varied over time.

Until 307 BC, there were 10 phylai. After that the number varies between 11 and 13 (usually 12). Even more confusing, while the conciliar and festival years were about the same length in the 4th century BC, such was not regularly the case earlier or later. documents dated by prytany are frequently very difficult to assign to a particular equivalent in the Gregorian calendar.

The table of Greek Olympiads, following the four-year cycles between the Olympic Games from 1 July 776 BC, continued until the end of the 4th century AD. The Babylonian Era of Nabonassar, beginning on 26 February 747 BC, was used by the Greeks of Alexandria. It was later known in the Middle Ages from the works of Ptolemy.

Additionally there was the Macedonian Era of the Seleucids, which began with the conquest of Babylon by Seleucus Nicator in 312 BC.It became widely used in the Levant. The Jews knew it as the "era of contracts", and used it in Europe until the 15th century.

World time

Time-keeping is so critical to the functioning of modern societies that it is coordinated at an international level. The basis for scientific time is a continuous count of seconds based on atomic clocks around the world, known as the International Atomic Time (TAI). Other scientific time standards include Terrestrial Time and Barycentric Dynamical Time.

Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is the basis for modern civil time. Since 1 January 1972, it has been defined to follow TAI with an exact offset of an integer number of seconds, changing only when a leap second is added to keep clock time synchronized with the rotation of the Earth. In TAI and UTC systems, the duration of a second is constant, as it is defined by the unchanging transition period of the caesium atom.

Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is an older standard, adopted starting with British railways in 1847. Using telescopes instead of atomic clocks, GMT was calibrated to the mean solar time at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich in the UK. Universal Time (UT) is the modern term for the international telescope-based system, adopted to replace "Greenwich Mean Time" in 1928 by the International Astronomical Union. Observations at the Greenwich Observatory itself ceased in 1954, though the location is still used as the basis for the coordinate system. Because the rotational period of Earth is not perfectly constant, the duration of a second would vary if calibrated to a telescope-based standard like GMT or UT—in which a second was defined as a fraction of a day or year. The terms "GMT" and "Greenwich Mean Time" are sometimes used informally to refer to UT or UTC.

The Global Positioning System also broadcasts a very precise time signal worldwide, along with instructions for converting GPS time to UTC.

Earth is split up into a number of time zones. Most time zones are exactly one hour apart, and by convention compute their local time as an offset from UTC or GMT. In many locations these offsets vary twice yearly due to daylight saving time transitions.

Time is a dimension in which events can be ordered from the past through the present into the future, and also the measure of durations of events and the intervals between them Time has long been a major subject of study in religion, philosophy, and science, but defining it in a manner applicable to all fields without circularity has consistently eluded scholars.Nevertheless, diverse fields such as business, industry, sports, the sciences, music, dance, and the live theater all incorporate some notion of time into their respective measuring systems.Some simple, relatively uncontroversial definitions of time include time is what clocks measure and time is what keeps everything from happening at once.

Time is one of the seven fundamental physical quantities in the International System of Units. Time is used to define other quantities — such as velocity — so defining time in terms of such quantities would result in circularity of definition. An operational definition of time, wherein one says that observing a certain number of repetitions of one or another standard cyclical event (such as the passage of a free-swinging pendulum) constitutes one standard unit such as the second, is highly useful in the conduct of both advanced experiments and everyday affairs of life.

The operational definition leaves aside the question whether there is something called time, apart from the counting activity just mentioned, that flows and that can be measured. Investigations of a single continuum called spacetime bring questions about space into questions about time, questions that have their roots in the works of early students of natural philosophy.

Furthermore, it may be that there is a subjective component to time, but whether or not time itself is "felt", as a sensation or an experience, has never been settled.

Time as "unreal"

In 5th century BC Greece, Antiphon the Sophist, in a fragment preserved from his chief work On Truth, held that: "Time is not a reality (hypostasis), but a concept (noêma) or a measure (metron)." Parmenides went further, maintaining that time, motion, and change were illusions, leading to the paradoxes of his follower Zeno. Time as an illusion is also a common theme in Buddhist thought.

J. M. E. McTaggart's 1908 The Unreality of Time argues that, since every event has the characteristic of being both present and not present (i.e., future or past), that time is a self-contradictory idea .

These arguments often center around what it means for something to be unreal. Modern physicists generally believe that time is as real as space—though others, such as Julian Barbour in his book The End of Time, argue that quantum equations of the universe take their true form when expressed in the timeless realm containing every possible now or momentary configuration of the universe, called 'platonia' by Barbour.

There are theories such as simultaneous times; that states that everything is happening at once instead of proceeding on a linear plane.


Time travel

Time travel is the concept of moving backwards and/or forwards to different points in time, in a manner analogous to moving through space, and different from the normal "flow" of time to an earthbound observer. In this view, all points in time (including future times) "persist" in some way. Time travel has been a plot device in fiction since the 19th century. Traveling backwards in time has never been verified, presents many theoretic problems, and may be an impossibility.Any technological device, whether fictional or hypothetical, that is used to achieve time travel is known as a time machine.

A central problem with time travel to the past is the violation of causality; should an effect precede its cause, it would give rise to the possibility of a temporal paradox. Some interpretations of time travel resolve this by accepting the possibility of travel between branch points, parallel realities, or universes.

Another solution to the problem of causality-based temporal paradoxes is that such paradoxes cannot arise simply because they have not arisen. As illustrated in numerous works of fiction, free will either ceases to exist in the past or the outcomes of such decisions are predetermined. As such, it would not be possible to enact the grandfather paradox because it is a historical fact that your grandfather was not killed before his child (your parent) was conceived. This view doesn't simply hold that history is an unchangeable constant, but that any change made by a hypothetical future time traveler would already have happened in his or her past, resulting in the reality that the traveler moves from.


"Chance favors the prepared mind." - Louis Pasteur