Time for a Change

We are the last country in the world still using the English system of measurements. England gave up on it long since. (Even their currency is decimal now.) As a practical matter we buy our soda in liters, and our car mechanics use mostly metric tools. In the Carter administration, our road signs started using kilometers and miles, but Reagan cut that out in a hurry, along with the 55-mph speed limit.

But, if we are the last country in the world to use metric measurements of space, weight, and volume, we still have a shot at being first in one measurement advance. Let’s institute metric time. The French and Russian Revolutions brought us ten-day weeks for a while, but that didn’t last. Everybody has been tinkering with the yearly calendar for literally thousands of years, so that’s nothing new. But the second, the minute, and the hour are still linked inexorably to 60. Why? It corresponds to nothing in the natural world (like the week, but unlike the day and the year.) The Babylonians started it, and nobody has had the nerve to quit.

Well, it is, literally, about time. Why not a metric second, and minute, and hour? One hundred seconds to the minute, one hundred minutes to the hour, and—how many seconds to the day? That depends. Do we want to keep the length of our current second? It was arbitrarily chosen in the first place, but ditching it now could be messy, since it corresponds to a unit on the Atomic Clock, which has become the basis of the GPS system and a bunch of other important scientific and technological institutions. If we keep it, that’s 864,000 seconds to the day. Which breaks down into 8.64 hours per day.

The advantage to this system of measurement comes when we start calculating working hours versus leisure. Assuming we work (in current measurements) 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, that would, in the new system, come out to slightly less than a 25-hour work week! We are unlikely to arrive at that kind of arrangement using our current measures, so let’s grab it while we can!! That was what they promised us back in the Kennedy 60s, and finally we have a shot at it.

Red Emma

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