Thinking - Not time like the percent

I wonder if our current wacky time system has any psychological side effects. If humans think $4.99 is still in the $4 range, then perhaps we think something odd about time.

Perhaps a stopwatch showing 1:50:00 is a bit close to one and a half hours or something. Perhaps that's why I leave it until the last minute to get into the shower before going to a restaurant. Perhaps I still think I have half an hour up my sleeve when really I have only ten minutes.

It's stresses like these that make people drink 1.02110316 × 10^-54 cubic Parsecs of Tequila with a slice of lime and a pinch of salt, over and over until comfortably numb.

Personally, I think we should go with the Parsec for everything. Or...

We could make everything very very simple.

Some time ago, I remember asking mum why we (Australians) were so historically insane as to have once had one Australian Pound be made up of twenty shillings, which were each subdivided into twelve pence.

She thought I was over-reacting.

People often do.

Until you ask them to do some calculations.

Perhaps a currency like that made it a simple task to buy things with the weights they were using at the time... lets see... there were sixteen ounces to the pound, fourteen pounds to the stone, and eight stone to the Hundredweight.


If it cost one Pound, eighteen Shillings, and eleven Pence to buy one Hundredweight of paraffin, how much would it cost to buy four Pounds (no, the other Pound) and thirteen ounces. Obviously that would depend on which kind of paraffin. There's a 2/11th discount on the impure stuff, but not on the pure stuff. So lets make it simple and work it out for the pure stuff.



I tried to explain why I thought it was insane, by attempting to teach her to count in a way that started in base 12, then rapidly insaned into base 20 for the next digit (or digit like thing), before settling out into base 10 the subsequent digits (I presume).

I got very confused.

Imperial units are funny.

People must have just tried to avoid calculations that involved all the "layers" (ie pounds, shillings, and pence) It seems odd, but I guess people chunked their prices into easy to calculate amounts.

Quarters, halves - that sort of thing.

I'm guessing shopkeepers just made up prices as they went along as well. Who's going to check?

For a modern day example for people living in a metric world, without thinking too much, on paper, in your head or with a calculator, try adding ...

11:44:29 hours, minutes and seconds to
03:19:51 PM

Not so difficult, but it hardly trips off the tongue.

It makes me think that perhaps we avoid doing it. Perhaps it's just too hard, so we only use the easy chunks of time. Quarters, halves - that sort of thing.

We need a new metric clock.

Our current clock is loopy.

Anything where your first digit is in base ten, then your next isn't, should be shot in the foot.

How do you even write a time calculation?

I think a semicolon would be more appropriate.

    1/2 ; 3/12 ; 19/60 ; 51/60 ; 00/100
+        11/12 ; 44/60 ; 29/60 ; 81/100
=                                    ##:##:##.## am/pm

Perhaps percentage of a day might be better.

So 6pm would be 75.00 o'clock

It would be easy to learn, would allow easy calculations, unlimited resolution if it mattered, and the Swiss would love the economic stimulus.

It would save the world a few lines of code when designing stopwatches as well.

120 Things in 20 years thinks no sleep yet and 6am means it's time to buy a new internal clock.


  1. Amazing train of thought I once had the thought that a number system of 12 would be more logical than ten.

  2. Are you really reading the entire blog? Dont forget to sleep :)


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