A moment for time

I’ve been very busy lately.  As I drove home tonight, I thought to myself, I wish there were more hours in a day.  Well, why can’t there be more hours in a day?  If there were more hours in a day, wouldn’t time seem to slow down?  Dear Reader, you may think this random musing is an exercise in futility, but consider this.  Time is an artificial construct defined by by society.  For example, this is the month of February.  It has 28 days–fewer than any other month of the Julian calendar.  During Leap Year, February has 29 days.  Still, February is always two or three days shorter than the month of January.  So much of what we do is bound by time constraints that one could surmise that time passes by more quickly in February than it does in January.  Two months that are virtually identical in a calendar year differ in their length of time.  Deadlines in February–from mortgage payments to work assignments–must be met at least a couple days sooner this month than they did in January.  Certainly, work volumes vary from month to month, but given the same amount of work, February feels more hectic than a month like January because it is shorter.
I believe the same is true when subdividing time by hours, minutes, and seconds.  If you varied the rate at which they pass, time would seem to pass by faster or slower.  If your life is constraint by time, this can have profound impact on your life.  I recall reading about efforts during the Industrial Age to adopt digital, or metric time.  In the Nineteenth Century, the French introduced a decimal time system that replaced 86,400 standard seconds in a day with 100,000 seconds.  Here are the conversions from standard time to decimal time:
  • One decimal second is 86400/100000 = 0.864 standard seconds.
  • One decimal minute is 1440/1000 = 1.44 standard minutes, i.e. 1 minute 26.4 seconds.
  • One decimal hour is 24/10 = 2.4 standard hours.
  • A decimal day has 10 hours, and a decimal hour has 100 minutes.  Each decimal minute has 100 seconds.  If we all used decimal time, our day would only be 10 hours long.  Think of the implications!  You might sleep three hours on average (2.4 x 3 = 7.2 standard hours on average) and work for four hours (2.4 x 4 = 9.6 standard hours).  A standard four-hour work day (including lunchtime, of course) would translate into a 9.6 hour workday.  A five-day work week would be 48 hours (9.6 hours/day x 5 days) per week.  You would probably work more and sleep less.

    So what? you might ask.  It means that if we could redefine time to include more hours in a day–say 25, or better yet, 30–a day would not pass by so fast because there would be more time in a day.  Right now, I would love to have 25 hours a day.