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27 January, 2007

Time On My Hands

If you wanted to create a way of measuring time for use all over the Galaxy but which still had units that would be useful to ordinary people, you could do worse than to base it on the orbital period of our sun around the galactic centre.

For those of you who haven’t noticed this giddifying fact, our sun – and all the stars in the Galaxy – are orbiting the galactic core at a phenomenal speed. We do a whole revolution (about 150,000 light years) in close to 250 million years. And, of course, 250 million years is a very big number. We’d only have been able to do about 55 orbits since the Universe began! Let’s call this unit one ‘grot’ (short for galactic rotation).

So, with the grot as our basic time unit, the Universe is 55 grots old. Our own solar system is about 18 grots old. The human race would be about half a milligrot. Of course, we can’t talk in milligrots – that would be silly – so let’s define a new unit. If we divide a grot by 200,000,000, we get a period that is 1.25 years long. This is a nice manageable length of time – close enough to a year to make sense to us but far enough from a year so that we don’t look too parochial to our galactic neighbours. We could call this a ‘yaaq’ (remember, there are two hundred million yaaqs to the grot.)

If you divide a yaaq by 10 and keep dividing the result by 10 you get a whole series of useful units corresponding to something like a month-and-a-half, three-quarters of a week, a bit less than half a day, just over one hour, two-thirds of a minute, and just under four seconds.

Only the scientists and sportsmen among us need go any lower than this last unit, which we would probably want to call a ‘jufs’. ("Just a jufs, mate!" we'd say when our extraterrestrial chums came calling.)

Now you try and tell me that doesn’t make sense!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just thought you would like to know that I spent an entire evening (until 3am) with Ms. Greer when we met up in Seattle. Found her to be caring to my plight (I was lost on a university campus), fascinating and fun (we got sloshed together). Met up with her again a few days later and she was still fun (when I was sobre). B

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