Logo for NNM (Nemo Nisi Mors) The Moon, September 2008 (Photo: Anders Gustafson) Logo for NNM (Nemo Nisi Mors)
Revised 2019-02-16T11:59:03Z

Okay, it is time to talk about the numbers 7, 12, 24, 28, 29, 30, 31, 52, 53, 60, 365 and 366 (and most certainly some other magic numbers). No, these numbers are not the beautiful Fibonacci numbers.


The reason to why we decided to have a year of 365 days is due to the Earth orbiting around the Sun. That is a good start, but unfortunately something went really wrong after that decision.

I don't know who to blame, but today we are stuck with a year consisting of 12 months with 28-31 days per month. Each of these days consist of 24 hours (no, please don't get me started about the daylight saving time issues). Each hour consists of 60 minutes and each minute consists of 60 seconds.

That's a pretty bizarre way to divide a day up. We divide it in half, then divide the halves by twelfths, then divide the twelfths into sixtieths, then divide by 60 again, and then convert to a decimal system for the smallest increments. It's no wonder children have trouble learning how to tell time.

To make things even worse it was decided that we also can divide a year in weeks, consisting of 7 days. Since 365 days can't be divided with 7 without leaving a rest, we end up with the interesting fact that a year consists of 52 or 53 weeks. The 52-or-53-weeks-per-year problem also implies that a specific date never is on the same day of week as previous year.

As a last twist we have the leap year, that sometimes gives us 366 days in a year.


Some holidays, like Christmas, New Year and national days will always be at the same dates, so they will therefore happen on different days of the week from year to year. Other holidays, like Easter and Midsummer will instead be at different dates from year to year, but they will always be on the same days of the week.

So if you aren't a calendar pro, you will have a hard time to tell which day of the week next year's New Year will happen. Or which date we will celebrate Midsummer Eve.

A proposal for alteration

The time it takes for our Earth to rotate 360 degrees (our day) and the number of days (approximately 365.25) that the Earth needs to orbit the Sun is nothing we can do much about. So we probably still need to relate to these facts. But in some other areas we can do better.

What if we instead would do it in the following way?

Instead of dividing the year in seven-days weeks, we divide by five-days weeks. 365 divided by 5 gives us (exactly) 73 weeks. We also skip the months, since they just add confusion. The weekdays can still be called Monday, Tuesday, ..., Friday, or even better we can call them first, second, ..., fifth. So instead of saying "See you Wednesday in week 23" it will be something like "See you third day in week 45". That shouldn't be a problem for anyone.

The days can be divided into the more familiar 10 hours. Each hour can be 100 minutes and each minute can be 100 seconds. Yes, the "length" of an hour, a minute and a second will be different than now. An hour is at the moment 3600 seconds and a day is 86400 seconds. If changed, an hour will instead be 10000 seconds and a day will be 100000 seconds.

Another possibility is to divide the days into 100 hours. Each hour can be 100 minutes and each minute can be 10 seconds. If changed, an hour will now be 1000 seconds and a day will be 100000 seconds.

Five days week

What should be the "working days" when we have five days per week? At the moment we have seven days per week and (in some parts of the world) consider five of them to be "working days", i.e. Monday-Friday. We consider Saturday and Sunday to be weekends. This is a ratio of 5/7, i.e. 0.71.

We could either have three working days and two days in the weekend, given a ratio of 3/5, i.e. 0.60. Or we could say that we have the weekends every other week, i.e. we have seven working days followed by three days in the weekend. The ratio will then be 7/10, i.e. 0.70.

At the moment we have some holidays, that take away some working days during a year, so the 0.71 and 0.70 ratios are almost the same from an employer's perspective.

When we have 366 days for a (leap) year we can have the last week of the year containing one extra (celebration) day.


Since we have longer weekends, three days instead of two, the common holidays will not be needed anymore. Instead of having the Christmas and Easter with more consecutive days off, we now would have these longer weekends all year around.

Hours, minutes and seconds

Many of us find it easier to calculate and convert with powers of ten. We can easily understand that 7 metric ton equals 7000 kilogram or 7000000 gram. But when asked about how many minutes or seconds 7 hours equals we generally need much more time to come up with the answers.

If the relation between hours, minutes and seconds would be built on powers of ten, many of us would find it easier.

Note: By the way, 7 hours equals 420 minutes or 25200 seconds, if you haven't figured that out yet, and yes, I used a calculator.


Traffic, communication, traveling

Since there will be no "big holidays", people can have their parties, family reunions, etc in any week they prefer. We will not have the extreme movement of people and vehicles during the Christmas, Easter and Midsummer holidays. Instead people will hopefully be more spontaneous and have their gatherings more evenly spread during a year.


Every date will always occur at the same day of week.


We have put men on the Moon, so we must be able to do something better than our current handling of time.


Some day, someone, somewhere in the world will write a book, which I today will randomly call the 37818. The main character in this widespread book will be called HV1553W. When she is born we will start this new era of handling our timekeeping.

First published by Anders Gustafson 2017-08-13
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