On to nerd(ier) subjects…

I’ve never liked the American date system because defies the logic used by other written forms of time. For example, when writing the time of day one starts at the left and writes the biggest unit: the hour. Then one moves progressively down units: minute, second, etc. That makes sense to me as it is quite logical.

For some reason, the people of the United States chose an interesting date format. Here, it’s commonest to see the date expressed as month/day/year, but in Europe the system is the opposite: day/month/year. Now, by using plain logic, one can infer that the Americans (speaking here of ones of European origin) changed at some point to our current system. In other words, they moved from the logical system to a separate standard that was and continues to be incompatible with Europe. As you can imagine, this causes problems when the two continents want to communicate.

The International Standards Organization (ISO) created a definite way for expressing of time called ISO 8601. This is the way I choose to write dates, as others are coming to do also. It works in the same order as our time of day, so the date and time at the time of this writing is: 2004/08/18 20:59:38. I usually don’t refer to time in a twenty-four hour format because few clocks are configured as such in the States. However, the United Kingdom uses twenty-four hour clocks, a pleasant surprise. Before the world becomes even more internationalized, I have a good feeling that the common people will move to this standard or one of its successors. People can be stubborn, though…

However, I still don’t understand why we use the bases we do. I know they are based upon the mathematical system of a early civilization in Mesopotamia that used base-sixty, rather than our modern base-ten, or _dec_imal. It seems rather arbitrary, but I suppose there is a basis on which it is founded. In any case, America moved from non-decimal system of currency used in Britain not long after our nation’s birth. Of course we could move to decimal time, but I don’t see that happening any time soon, given the proliferation of clocks as they exist currently.


Now, if I were as kind to actually read the links I include in posts, I would be a much better person.

If you’re interested, the “mathematical system of a early civilization in Mesopotamia that used base-sixty” is actually the Babylonians, or as the author puts it “the sexagesimal system used by the ancient Babylonians.”

Not bad for working off memory.

Source: Decimal Time.