Time in a “Jiffy”: A Brief History of the Measurement of Existence

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A Brief History

Before we get into the interesting and uncommon measurements of time, when is the last time you thought of the origin of the common measurements? It’s a heliofa story.

Every measurement of time we have is relative to the sun, and our orbit around it. 1 year is one complete orbit around the Sun, 1 day is one full rotation of the Earth on its axis. There are 24 hours in this day which is expanded into the 1,440 minutes in the day.

These measurements haven’t always been used before the Julian calender, we divided up daylight into 12 portions and called them hours. As we can see the days getting longer this time of year, it’s obvious that the time period of an hour was never the same throughout the year. In classical China the day was divided into 100 equal parts of 14.4 minutes. Time as we know it, 24 hours in one day, did not come about until the 14th century when the first mechanical clocks were made. The entire world only just sycnronized their clocks in 1967 when the second was recognized as the international unit of atomic time.

There is a lot more to that, but I imagine my readers would like to hear some common and not so common time phrases we use defined.

We’ll be back in a Jiffy!

You think you’ll be back in a jiffy? You better hurry. In the time it has taken you to read this post so far, you’ve used 7,200 jiffies. The jiffy measures the amount of time light takes to travel 1 fermi (about the size of a proton). There are only 2 smaller measurements of time, the yoctosecond, and a Planck time unit.

The Obvious Ones

These include many you might not have known but probably would have guessed. For instance, the dekasecond is 10 seconds. The Kilosecond is 1,000 seconds, and a moment is actually 90 seconds. This comes from medieval time measurements.

The Weird Ones

Ke – 15 minutes
Olympiad – 4 years
Lustrum – 5 years
Petasecond – 1 million seconds
Galactic Year – 230 million years (time it takes the sun to orbit the milky way galaxy once.
Exaanum – 1 quintillion years. Wait, how much is a quintillion?
Yottanum – 1 septillion years

1 septillion written out in our familiar measurement of years would look like this.

1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.

These numbers are primarily used for physics purposes now, but aren’t you glad that they all relate back to our second now? Several hundred years ago this wouldn’t have been the case. We should all be grateful that we live in a time that has time figured out, as far as we know, at least.


2 responses to “Time in a “Jiffy”: A Brief History of the Measurement of Existence

  1. Pingback: Driving a Semi in High Winds POV | Continental Machinery Movers·

  2. Pingback: Curiosity: In 4 Billion Pixels | Continental Machinery Movers·

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