Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Europe switches to Metric Time

The tiny European country of Liechtenstein nestles comfortably in the bosom of the Alps, along the border between Switzerland and Austria. It is so small and insignificant even most of the Swiss and Austrian population don't even know it exists, but that is about to change.
Liechtenstein - It's name is longer than it's border
Liechtenstein - Pretty much actual size
Prince Hans-Adam II, reigning monarch of Liechtenstein, has decreed that as of January 1st 2012 the country will switch from the globally established method of measuring time to the decimal based metric time system whose base unit is the centhour. A time unit which marks the passing of 100 centiminutes which in turn is made up of 100 centiseconds.

Given that the length of a day is already scientifically established as 'the time taken for one rotation of the Earth about it's axis', the boffins worked backwards from that standard to create 'Liechtentime'. This is how Liechtentime units compare to regular units:

  • 1 centhour = 1.2 regular hours or 1 hour 12 minutes
  • 1 centiminute = 0.72 Earth minutes or 43.2 seconds
  • 1 centisecond = 0.432 normal seconds, a little shorter than half a regular second.
This seems like a reasonable system at first glance, until you hear what they are doing with weeks and months. The official literature mailed out to all Liechtensteinians is quoted below.

The new week will be 10 days instead of 7, the new days being named Adamsday (after Prince Hans-Adam), Liechtenday (self explanatory) and SecondSunday so that we all get another opportunity to go to church.”

2 months are sacrificed for the new 10 month year. These are February and November, because let's face it nobody likes Winter and those months have the suckiest weather, and you can't lose December because of Christmas.”

We understand that some confusion may ensue during the implication of this change and the Liechtenstein parliament is sponsoring the cost of one metric clock to each household to aid the transition.”

A metric clock
A metric clock with the Liechtensteinian coat of arms
The idea for metric or decimal time is not new, and has been suggested numerous times since the 1700's and each time the idea has been poo-pooed for being stupid, unworkable and too radically different from established ideas. However, fans of metric time claim that in our "base 10 universe", it is a simpler and more natural method of measuring time and after a period of adjustment, people will forget the crazy 24 hour day.

What do you think? Was it meant to be a decimal system, after all we have 10 fingers? Or is it more than coincidence that there are 24 hours in a day and 24 cans in a case of beer?


Jeff said...

I like it. Everything should be in base 10! The metric system makes a lot more sence@

captNaj said...

That's really gonna fuck up my trip to am I supposed to enjoy my stay and keep track of metric time at the same...time? I might go on a 2 week vacation and not come back for months! Hmm...wait...on the other hand...haha

Jack Stropp said...

I don't know if this advice will help, but the Amsterdamese live breathe and smoke the weed. They probably don't even care about what time it is, metric or otherwise.
"What time is it?"
"Time to light up, man. Pass me another brownie."

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