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365.24 days

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An ancient calendar

An ancient calendar

This is, again, another mystery to me.

Why are there EXACTLY 365.24 days in a year? Did we somehow come to decide it or was there a better reasoning behind it? Well, being the curious (and perhaps, illogical) person I am, I set out to investigate it.

By our reckoning, a year translates to the following:

1 week = 7 days

4 weeks = 28 days

1 month = 4.34812141 weeks

1 year = 12 months = 12 × 4.34 × 7 = 364.56

…which is roughly equivalent to the exact number of days there are in a year.

But of course, if we were to discuss days, weeks, months in general, we can’t talk of one and not of the history of calendars.

Historic artifacts have shown that our earliest attempts at recording time dated all the way back in 10000 – 28000 BC back in the early Stone Ages, or the Palaeolithic Era, as some may know it.

From then on, three types of calendars have proliferated across cultures and religions.

1. Lunar

A lunar calendar, eponymous to its name, depends on the phases of the moon to have a date assigned to it. If I understood Wikipedia correctly, apparently, every lunar year, it drifts from the solar year (one that is most used around the world) by 12 days, which doesn’t realign until every 33 years. However, most lunar calendars aren’t actually pure lunar calendars, since they won’t be in sync with the rest of the world otherwise (imagine that your year has 11 less days all year, that’s disastrous!). We call those lunisolar calendars, which are, simply, lunar calendars, except for the addition of an intercalary month (an extra month) that helps balance out the disparity.

2. Solar

We’re probably most familiar with this one. The solar calendar that’s also the most widespread in the world is the Gregorian calendar, after Pope Gregory XIII, who proposed it for ubiquitous use after Dr. Aloysius Lilius’ model of recording time. Surprisingly, for a calendar as accurate as this, it spread slowly throughout the ages since its decree (24th February 1592). This reflects accurately the relative position of Earth while orbiting around the sun, and thus, the four seasons caused by our orbital track.

3. Lunisolar

As mentioned above, some cultures prefer to use the lunar calendar for various reasons, however, because it’s unable to synchronize with the solar calendar perfectly, which is more widely used that a lunar calendar, they have to add intercalary months to help even out the difference. An example would be the Chinese calendar.

So, why exactly are there 365 days in a year?

Well, as we’ve seen, 365.2425 days, or 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes and 12 seconds is the amount of time required to orbit around the Sun, which gives us seasons, and since they interchange on a rotary basis, one such cycle would qualify for a year, logically.

The real question, then, would be: why are there 7 days in a week when:

365 days / 12 months = 30.42 days

30.42 days / 4 weeks = 7.60417 days / week ?

Probably…because we can’t conceive the notion of having 7 days 14 hours 30 minutes per week. If we rounded up, we’d have more time that actually exists, so the viable option, then, is to round down.

Pretty long-winded for something so trivial, eh?

What do you think? Do drop in a comment here!! XD

Source of photo: http://www.channel4.com/science/microsites/S/spellbinder/images/astronomicalchart-01.gif

Written by imicrothinking

November 2, 2009 at 4:45 pm

UP#2: The illusion of time (Part II)

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Hey guys!

Here’s the second part, as promised.

Enjoy!!



If you find that you don’t have enough time, you don’t have to fabricate more of it. You simply have to induce circumstances that lead you to think you have more time. So, what to do? After a long, long time of digressing (on my part), yes, it is something that simple: simply move your watch forward 15 minutes.

 

Digita watch - set it 15 minutes fast!

Digita watch - set it 15 minutes fast! (Source: http://www.coolbusinessideas.com/images/8%20bit%20watch.jpg)

You see, if you wake up at 7:00 and sleep at 11:00, for example, all you’re doing is to shift it forward 15 minutes (so, if you go by your watch, you’ll be waking up at 7:15 and sleeping at 11:15 even thought actual time hasn’t really changed). All you’re doing, then, is to allow your perception of time shift forward by a certain margin (in this case, 15 minutes), to give yourself an imminent perspective of time. In other words, normally, you wake up peering at your watch through your half-opened eyes, ‘oh, seven already? Better get dressed…’. This is then followed by a yawn. On the other hand, when your watch goes faster, you’ll probably peer out of your half-closed eyes and stare at the watch, ‘it’s 7:15 already!? S***, better get dressed or my boss will murder me…’.

In retrospect, actual time hasn’t changed. It’s still seven. But when you’re backed into a corner and make yourself think that you’ve got less time, then you’ll work faster, which is similar to you ‘having’ more time. If you’re ambitious, you can do it up to an hour. It’s your choice.

There’s a direct chance to apply this already. If you’re the sort of person who just HAS to sleep at an EXACT time (e.g. 23:00), or else you just suffer from bad quality sleep, but you always find that your work or whatever it is that you do exceed 23:00, you can shift your watch half an hour forwards to give yourself the perception that you’ve got more TIME.

Time perspective warping:

“What if I have a digital watch?”

Some don’t allow you to change the time (they run according to time zones), while others do. Honestly, how much does a watch cost? If it can ‘buy’ you more time, it’s probably worth it to spend that extra $10 bucks on that second hand analogue watch, or to a digital watch that you have free reign over time setting.

Time is money. Here’s how you can use money to exchange the most invaluable resource ever. How’s that for a change?

Well, hoped you got something useful out of that! XD

Do leave a thought below!  ~ XD

Written by imicrothinking

October 29, 2009 at 8:46 pm

UP#2: The illusion of time (Part I)

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A paradigm shift.

The shade of square A and B are the same! (Try photoshopping it ~)

Source: http://www.merlinsilk.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/optical-illusion.jpg

Hey guys!

I’m sorry I haven’t written for two weeks; I’ve been caught up in family stuff, and in all, it’s just been too hectic to try and find time to blog after all that. How ominous that the topic is about time and I failed to apply it. A lesson in life, eh?

Remember the post called ‘UP#2 and #3 teaser: The illusion of inertia’? Well, this is a follow up on that – the perspective of inertial progress invokes one of the principles we’re here to talk about – that is, time. I think that this is sorely limited, however. There are many other perspectives on time that we’ll be approaching at a later date, and I separated them intentionally because your eyes will strain if you have the patience to finish this lot. Anyway, a great many thanks for the readership and support that you’ve shown!

We all need more time. I think many people will come to agree that there’s just not enough time. Other things you find in life can be infinitely accessible. For instance, if you don’t have money, you can always make more of it. If you have flour and other ingredients (sorry, folks, not a food expert, can’t even make toast without burning it XD), you can always make more bread. But, however we try, we just CAN’T make more time. Or can we?

I don’t pretend to be an expert on time. Because I don’t even know what time is. Is it free flowing, sequential, like water falling down a cascading waterfall? Is it circular, ever-warping in an infinite continuum? Or is it as is, not measurable or definable by any method, tangible or intangible known to us? Honestly, I don’t have a clue. But I have a few ideas when it comes to perceiving time.

You see, right, I think it remains a fact that we can’t create more time. Like, you can’t just make time appear out of thin air. You make omelettes out of eggs, but the essence of time? No idea. Therefore, we can only redirect our focus to something that we do have control over – our perceptions of time.

Omelette comes from eggs. Where does time come from?

Source: http://autocratatthebrunchtable.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/omelette_full.jpg

If omelettes come from eggs, where does time come from?

Have you ever felt that time is passing slowly while you’re, hmm, let’s say, awaiting the results of your medical report? Or it passed too quickly during a party? That’s the point of entry that we’re going to use, probably because it’s also the only one we’ve got. While this load of stuff about time may just seem like a bunch of abstractions, don’t worry. What we discuss below is quite concrete, I can guarantee that as much. XD

Coffee shop disaster

Source: http://www.greenopia.com/image/news/coffee.jpg

The coffee shop disaster

But it’s exactly that. It’s a perception. As we all know, our perceptions can change at alarming rates. For example, you’re at a café sipping coffee only to find that the stranger sitting opposite you is munching on a piece of toast you bought. You glare at her, who only smiles annoyingly in return. You then take the other piece of toast and masticate it. There’s only one left on the plate and you scowl at the woman. She then breaks it in half and offers it to you. You snatch it from her proffered hand, and stuff it in your mouth. When she stands up and leaves, you check the time, and realize that you’ve already ate the toast (that you bought an hour ago, and a waiter took it away, which you absent-mindedly ignored) and have been sitting in the café for 45 minutes before the woman joined you. Then you throw embarrassed glances around you, wishing to yourself, ‘gee, how nice of her! I hope she forgives me for taking all that!’

As you can see, it’s only ever you that’s controlling what you’re seeing. If you simply look from a different point, you might find something different, often surprising. That’s what we’re attempting to do here with time: twisting the immediate truth.

…to be continued

Written by imicrothinking

October 27, 2009 at 2:25 pm

UP #2 and #3 teaser: The illusion of inertia

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Have you ever felt lost? Like, say you really wanted to learn something, e.g. programming, but the more you learn it, the more you feel that it’s out of your reach?

Well, it’s not that you’re not progressing, it’s more like the illusion of inertia’s gotten the better of you.

Really, you’ve made progress. By how much, I can’t say. Heck, I’m not omnipresent!! But it’s undeniable that you’ve improved from the day that you made a commitment in doing something that you really wanted to achieve from the first day. In the middle, though, you sorta become lost. What’s going on?

This principle’s gonna be short, because it’s really simple. Well, first of all, let’s have a look at what’s happening.

  1. You define your goal.
  2. You define your motivations
  3. You define a timeframe (which ALWAYS turn out wrong)…

n.    You’ve finally achieved it!!!

Two very important things are happening here to create the illusion of inertia:

1. Success comes at an instant and lasts for an instant. It’s realization, enjoyment, and you’re back to work.

(A more philosophical way to say it is probably, ‘It is but a flicker of your work, a bright, flashy flicker, yes, but all the same, a flicker’) The effort you put behind that success is ENORMOUS!!! But the moment of success is so short. The relative size of both benchmarks of action just can’t be compared. Do you get an ant to fight a tiger? Probably not.

(Yes, I’d like to define the two ‘literal’ benchmarks of action as 1) effort and 2) results (can be success or failure), but of course, there are many other ‘behind the scenes’ components of it.)

2. You miscalculated how much time you needed.

Many times over, we either overestimate or underestimate the timeframe in which we carry out our projects. And most of the times, that’s perfectly fine, because it’s extraordinarily difficult! (In 21 years of time, I take that back, because the human mind will be mapped out (supposedly) by then! Perhaps, we’d understand ourselves better… XD) So, if we went faster than we expected, we’d feel it’s not progressing to our expectations. Obviously, faster is better than slower, but it depends on the person, really. If s/he is highly unrealistic, then you can expect a HUGE gap between what is in reality and what is in his/her imagination. So, underestimating how much time you need for a project can be detrimental to your perception of progress. (Heck, imagine if you couldn’t calculate an approximate timeframe for it. How frustrating is that!! If you’re in an explorative field, for example, just like the Nobel prize winners of Physiology/Medicine of this year [2009], Dr. Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Dr. Carol W. Greider and Dr. Jack W. Szostak, for discovering the properties of telomerase in the protection of chromosomes, imagine the patience you’d have to have!!!)

That’s the scope of it.

But, of course, this section is called ‘Universal principles’ for a reason, from the basis that they have a universal range of applications. The illusion of inertia is applicable only to the personal improvement field, particularly in measuring progress, which is why this piece is a teaser for UP#2 and UP#3.

Thoughts, criticisms, comments welcome!!! Any ideas of what they could be? They’re mentioned in the passage! Look forward in hearing from you! (I’d offer a prize as an incentive, really, but if I’m still using a wordpress domain, you can estimate my, ‘hem-hem’, [lack of] wealth  ~ XD)