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Online Comics => Escape From Terra => Topic started by: Archonix on September 30, 2010, 04:32:19 am

Title: Metric?
Post by: Archonix on September 30, 2010, 04:32:19 am
Now forgive me if this comes across as odd or exoteric, though I am at least trying to relate it to the comic.

I find it odd that metric units are the dominant measuring system in the future envisioned here. Or even the present, but that's another rant. Obviously a liberterian or anarcho-capitalist would be at liberty to use any system of measurement he cared to but, still, I do find it odd that metric would be used. It's actually very restrictive, providing fewer factors for its major units, and is no more accurate than alternatives (false precision behind the decimal point notwithstanding). The emtric system was originally designed to replace the existing units, not because it was better than what came before, but merely because it was newer. Originally metres, centimetres and so on were meant to be accompanied by a 400 degree circle and a ten hour per day, ten day week. There was no logical explanation for why this was so, except that it was easier to divide by ten on your fingers. A 400 degree circle offers fewer factors and doesn't divide up nicely the way a 360 degree circle does.

But so far I'm just rambling without any particular rational basis. After all, metric is consistent isn't it? Everything fits quite well together. Though, the metre turns out to be slightly off its supposed measurement of one 10-thousandth of the distance between the equator and the north pole, and there are still inconsistencies on how units are written... and so on.

However, when you consider the history of English measurements, pre-metric measurements, the change to metric begins to make less sense. The claim is that the foot, for example, is based on some old king's foot and that metric replaced with with a rational and scientific measurement. Of course that's bunk: who has a 12 inch foot? Even with shoes it's somewhat rare, especially the shoes that were worn in ancient times. And it bothered me that anyone who believes in individual liberty would be so keen to use a system of measures designed deliberately to divorce people from the past and re-order their lives along "rational" and "scientific" principles - at the same time reducing their freedom in little ways - as part of a broader thrust to re-organise society along those same "rational" and "Scientific" principles in order to make the state total and the individual nothing.

Then I stumbled across a couple of pages and my life was transformed. Literally. Rather than claim that old measures are ad-hoc and derived to suit the need it becomes clear that they are entirely rational, more rational than metric in fact, when you realise that the length of a foot (http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/06/06/chasing-the-greek-foot/) has been consistent over thousands of years, and that all english measures can be derived with just a little bit of astronomical knowledge (http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/06/13/making-an-english-foot/).

Suddenly they make a hell of a lot more sense. The second link demonstrates how consistent the units are together once you realise their source.

But feel free to go on doing whatever you do. That's rather then point, I suppose... And apologies if this has to be moved. It seemed suitable given the subject matter and I thought the surrounding issues might foment a little debate.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: Karadan on September 30, 2010, 10:26:31 am
I find it odd that metric isn't used in America, like it is everywhere else in the world.

I really don't see how a 400 degree circle doesn't divide up as well as a 360 degree circle.  90 becomes 100, 45 becomes 50, 180 becomes 200.  The only one that comes out poorly is an equilateral triangle, as 1/3rd of 400 doesn't come out to anything pretty.  But, I hardly see what 'things that were considered but not implemented' really has to do with the validity of the system as a whole.  I'm sure the US had plenty of things that were considered but not implemented, but that doesn't detract from the US.  Same with any other country.  Same with any organization.

As for the equator to the north pole, of course it is off.  There are two reasons for this.  The first is that all (non-counting) measurements ever are off.  The second is that the distance between the equator and the north pole changes, the earth is not a static thing after all.

So, the basis for the foot not being based on an actual foot is that people with that shoe size are somewhat uncommon?  I have a 12" foot.  My uncle has over a 13" foot.  My grandfather has somewhere in the same range.  I hardly think "feet that big are rare" is a valid argument.  English measurements are notorious for being based on inconsistent things.  A foot is (supposedly) based on an actual foot.  A hand is based on an actual hand.  A furlong (I believe that is the right measurement) is based on 'how far an archer can shoot an arrow'.  Thumbs (inches) were based on, you guessed it, a thumb.

Now, that's not to say that the measurements aren't standardized now, but the point is that the system was very ad-hock in how it was created.  There are 12 inches in a foot, 3 feet in a yard, and 1760 yards in a mile.  This makes dealing with the system difficult.  Both are equally accurate, but, good luck trying to do any math with those units.

Now, I really really really really don't see this connection between metric and a totalitarian state that you're making.  There is no connection of history with the Empirical  system.  The 'foot' was different for different countries (Part of the reason everyone thinks that napoleon is short, his height was incorrectly converted), and was constantly changing.  I don't feel any sort of 'historical connection' when I use the foot, I don't feel any sort of 'totalitarian oppression' when I use a meter.  Instead I feel annoyance at the ad-hockness of foot->yard->mile.

I do admit the articles were fairly interesting, haven't had a chance to read through them entirely, but some interesting stuff there.  Especially dealing with how the foot and yard came to be.

Still, the fact that the foot and yard may have been created based on sound principles, is rather irrelevant.  What matters is its current usability.  Metric is infinitely easier to work with where science is concerned, and considerably easier to use in day to day life.  Any idea how many square feet are in a square yard?  What about a square mile?  Or an acre?  Well, sit down for a couple minutes with some paper and you can figure it out.  How many square meters in a square kilometer?  No problem, 1000^2 = 1,000,000.  That took all of a second or two.  Similarly, how many cubic feet in a gallon?  Well, go look up some obscure conversions and you may eventually figure it out.  How many cubic cm are in a ml?  Hey, 1, done.

I think it is this utility that would make it likely to be used in the future.  The people of EFT seem to use science far more than the normal American.  They need to be able to convert from cubic cm to ml to newtons to joules easily.  They don't want to have to look up numbers (or remember obscure conversions) every time they need to do math.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: SandySandfort on September 30, 2010, 11:13:03 am
... it bothered me that anyone who believes in individual liberty would be so keen to use a system of measures designed deliberately to divorce people from the past and re-order their lives along "rational" and "scientific" principles - at the same time reducing their freedom in little ways - as part of a broader thrust to re-organise society along those same "rational" and "Scientific" principles in order to make the state total and the individual nothing.

First, this has nothing to do with individual liberty. Today, and in the future Belt, you can use whatever system of measurement you damn well please. If you want to say that your car is traveling at 161,280 furlong per fortnight, be my guest. While you are at it, feel free to invent your own language. However, if you want to communicate with others, pick a common language and an unambiguous* system of measurements.

Now here's  little test for those who believe that English measures are "easier." Without looking it up or using a calculator, you have 30 second to answer each of the following questions. The first one is a gimme:

1. How many feet in a mile?
2. How many inches in a mile?
3. How many teaspoons in a US gallon? Imperial gallon?
4. How many ounces in a short ton? Long ton?
5. How many square inches in an acre?
6. How much does an (liquid) ounce of water weigh? A cubic inch of water?

a. How many meters in a kilometer?
b. How many centimeters in a kilometer?
c. How many milliliters in a liter?
d. How many grams in a tonne?
e. How many square centimeters in a hectare?
f.  How much does a cubic centimeter of water weigh?

* In the English system, how many different "ounces" are there? I count 3, but there could be more. How many different "ton" are there? I count about 5. And what's up with "stones"?
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: macsnafu on September 30, 2010, 11:25:04 am
In many things, metric makes more sense--like with volumes.  Why the heck is there a "pint", and how many of them go into a "quart" or gallon?  In some things, it would simply be different, but just as easy once you get used to it. 

The big problem with the metric system is in the conversion process--converting is always difficult, no matter how much payoff will result.  The big success story with metric in the U.S. is the 2-liter pop bottle, although juices and other drinks still tend to be in ounces and quarts. 
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: Flinn on September 30, 2010, 12:18:17 pm
I've noticed that the American Military makes use of the metric system; klicks (kilometres) and calibers of various weaponry, such as 5.56mm M16 rounds, 7.62mm AK47, 20/30mm Gatling-style weapons. Though that might just be because of general world-wide usage of such terms, as there is the .50 cal BMG round for machine guns/sniper rifles and others.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: J Thomas on September 30, 2010, 12:25:51 pm
I really don't see how a 400 degree circle doesn't divide up as well as a 360 degree circle.  90 becomes 100, 45 becomes 50, 180 becomes 200.  The only one that comes out poorly is an equilateral triangle, as 1/3rd of 400 doesn't come out to anything pretty.

If you want to divide in your head, 12 or 144 or 360 are better units than 10 100 1000. You can divide 360 evenly by 2, by 3, by 4, by 5, by 6, by 8, by 9, by 10, by 12, 15, by 18, by 20, etc.

You can divide 1000 evenly by 2, by 4, by 5, by 8, by 10, by 20, by 25,  not as good.

But if you use a calculator, it doesn't matter except it's easier on the calculator if everything is the same base. However, if there was a market it wouldn't take much to get BCD calculators that generalise to binary-coded trinary, binary-coded duodecimal, etc. Or you enter a base and it displays everything in that base until you change it.

Once it isn't people doing their own math in their heads, it doesn't matter much at all.

A 400-degree circle isn't good for triangles but it's fine for pentagons. Triangles are important, though. It might be worth an extra effort to avoid rounding error in the sum of their angles.

Quote
The people of EFT seem to use science far more than the normal American.  They need to be able to convert from cubic cm to ml to newtons to joules easily.  They don't want to have to look up numbers (or remember obscure conversions) every time they need to do math.

If they have computing power easily available, then the advantages of anything-but-decimal are much smaller than otherwise. And unless they're majority from USA, why would they switch to our units?
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: Archonix on September 30, 2010, 01:26:45 pm
.

Now, that's not to say that the measurements aren't standardized now, but the point is that the system was very ad-hock in how it was created.  There are 12 inches in a foot, 3 feet in a yard, and 1760 yards in a mile.  This makes dealing with the system difficult.  Both are equally accurate, but, good luck trying to do any math with those units.

Well that's just it, they weren't created in an ad-hoc way, the basic measurements (yard, inch, foot) were derived by the use of the motion of the stars and a time standard.

I pointed out that the metre is slightly off; a 1 yard pendulum gives a very exact 2 second swing. If the meter had been precisely x percent of the distance etc it would not produce a 2 second swing, but the fudged length is close enough to a yard to produce almost the same time period, give of take a few thousandth of a second.

The problem is that time has not been kind. Citing the mile as an example, it was originally 5000 feet long 6 furlongs), but was changed by Elizabeth the 1st to make it match up to some other distance (state inteference screwing things up for the little guy anyone?). Some English measures are derived from the land, such as the furlong (the length of a furrow in a field, which is quite handy to know in an agrarian society) but they aren't what I was originally considering. Without a body to protect the standards, of course ad-hoc additions can and will creep in, but that doesn't detract from the basic merits of what they started with.

The fact that the French used a short foot doesn't mean much when you recall that the ancient greek and egyptian foot measures are almost precisely the same as the English foot. Most societies used a similar measurement, of a similar length, over most of recorded history. Aberrations may creep in but they are the exceptions, not the rule, and merely prove the staying power of these basic measurements. All the rest, I agree it seems very odd and unworkable but that doesn't change the fact that the claims that metric is better are based on a misunderstanding of what the old units actually were. What they weren't was things like teaspoons and jugs and crap like that: they were the inch, the foot and the yard. In comparison to the metre they are far more flexible and far more useful.

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Now, I really really really really don't see this connection between metric and a totalitarian state that you're making.  There is no connection of history with the Empirical  system.

The Metric system was designed by the revolutionary French as part of their new society. The French revolution grew out of a desire to completely remake man and society around new "scientific" principles; the metric system was part and parcel of that. The fact that it's still used now is merely a testament to the inertia of state-sponsored ideas that have been allowed to set their roots down.

Quote
Still, the fact that the foot and yard may have been created based on sound principles, is rather irrelevant.  What matters is its current usability.  Metric is infinitely easier to work with where science is concerned, and considerably easier to use in day to day life.

Dividing by ten is superficially easier but provides much less flexibility. it's all about factors. Taking the basic English units of the yard, foot and inch (which are not derived from body parts despite the mythology) and ignore all the subsequent historical additions; the second; and the 360 degree circle and you have an eminently workable system of measurements you can standardise on, with more factors than just 2 and 5 to work with, and consequently much easier divisions into useful pieces.

Or, at least, they're workable for me as I find it a lot easier to work in fractions than decimals. The fact that they're derived from an astronomical standard just makes it easier for me to feel smug about it. :)
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: quadibloc on September 30, 2010, 05:04:05 pm
First, this has nothing to do with individual liberty.
In Canada, the government certainly did impose the metric system in a heavy-handed way that caused many individuals financial losses, despite there being little public enthusiasm for the move.

But it is true that the metric system is superior in one important way - because everything is measured in the same units, whether small or large, it is instantly possible to compare the size of a book to the distance to the Moon. No multiplying by the number of inches in a foot and the number of feet in a mile.

Thus, even in the United States, while customary measures may be the units of everyday life, the metric system is what scientists use to avoid adding needless complications to their daily work. In the Belt, science and engineering will play a bigger role in everyday life than they do in many places on Earth today.

It wouldn't surprise me at all, though, if in a free society like that pictured in this comic, people would use metric at work, and yet buy groceries by the pound, cloth by the yard, and beer by the quart, if that's what they're used to.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: WorBlux on September 30, 2010, 09:56:02 pm


Now here's  little test for those who believe that English measures are "easier." Without looking it up or using a calculator, you have 30 second to answer each of the following questions. The first one is a gimme:

1. How many feet in a mile?
2. How many inches in a mile?
3. How many teaspoons in a US gallon? Imperial gallon?
4. How many ounces in a short ton? Long ton?
5. How many square inches in an acre?
6. How much does an (liquid) ounce of water weigh? A cubic inch of water?

a. How many meters in a kilometer?
b. How many centimeters in a kilometer?
c. How many milliliters in a liter?
d. How many grams in a tonne?
e. How many square centimeters in a hectare?
f.  How much does a cubic centimeter of water weigh?

* In the English system, how many different "ounces" are there? I count 3, but there could be more. How many different "ton" are there? I count about 5. And what's up with "stones"?



I think there is something to be said about significant digits.  Sure it may be fun and a good test of basic math to know how many grams in a ton, or inches in a mile.  Once you get beyond a fathom or two, you really stop caring about the number of inches.  We use about 2 digits in everyday use, 3 or 4 in most industries and research, and only use 5 or more in very high tech manufacturing or in physics research. And 2 digits is about all that can be intuitively understood.


Imperial units were developed with the human scale in mind.   After about 100 inches it's easy to switch to feet and fractions thereof and after about 100 feet you can switch to yards, which is intuitively understandable and more accurate than truncating a column We have a much better intuitive grasp of halves, thirds, and quarters than of tenths.

SI is great if you want to be logical and methodical, Imperial is just fine if you want to go about your life.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: wdg3rd on October 01, 2010, 12:10:26 am
As Neil pointed out some years back, if you miss a decimal point (or almost anything else) doing "English" arithmetic, you'll notice immediately.  Multiplying metric numbers and slipping a decimal point, you won't know until it's too late, especially if there have been conversions.  As has been demonstrated a couple of times by the American Statist Space Authority, officially metric but inclined to screw up, badly.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: Scott on October 01, 2010, 10:42:41 am
The way I look at it, it's a matter of what for Belter culture is historical precedent.

In the present day, most of the world, except for the United States, uses metric, whether we like it or not. A United World government would almost certainly impose metric on recalcitrant hold-outs. Astronauts from all nations in the present day use metric, and problems caused by conversions between metric and Imperial are likely to be resolved by eliminating Imperial. So, by 2097, when our strip begins, metric is what people everywhere know, and the Imperial system is considered archaic, to the extent people know about it at all. The majority of Belters and Martians, by the way, do not hail from the old United States -- they come from scores of different nations, most of which have used metric for going on two centuries.

By the way, a meter isn't much more than a yard; if you divide a meter by 3, you have something close to a foot; if you divide a meter by 40, you have something close to an inch. A litre is pretty close to a quart. It's possible that eventually off-Terra cultures will come up with informal measuring units which are derived from metric but are more suitable for daily-life uses.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: Roland on October 05, 2010, 02:56:15 am
Another great advantage of the metric system is the international standartisation of measuring. In this context it is not important which system, but THAT a system was picked.
U.S. people tend to have the image of being self-absorbed around here, so it may not be a matter of importance to them. But  in Europe, and very expecially here in Germany, which was divided into hundreds of independent kingdoms, duchies and arch-baronies before the Kaiserreich, it was a matter of commercial success as well as scientific progress.
Imagine to try to install a railroad between berlin and munich when you have to cross dozends of territorial borders, each petty country with its own time zone! The result would have been a time schedule of lovecraftian proportions.
Or try to buy grains on the international market. Lets say the offer is made  per ton. How much weight is it, now, when there are dozends of different tons? Or maybe this time it even means volume tons, for it's not uncommon to use that for loads? No problem with metric tons, sir!
But it had to be the metric system, not despite, but BECAUSE it was an artificial system. No-one would have agreed to use an other traditional system but the own one. This metric system, now, clean and shiny and all-new, that was another thing. Its french revolution origin surely helped, because it had the odeur of progress and reason, plus it was french, wich meant "international pop culture" those days.

Seems to me there is no future but metric in a culture of international origin like the belters' one.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: terry_freeman on October 05, 2010, 04:45:34 am
Since you mention time zones, it is fair to say that railroads voluntarily chose to adopt uniform time zones, instead of the local time in each of hundreds of different cities and towns along the way.

As for metric, it might win out. As an American, I am more comfortable with foot-pound-second for daily use, but if ever I should need to deal with orbital mechanics, kilometers would be easier to work with than miles; metric units match scientific notation well.

That said, I wish the French had been bold enough to adopt base 12 or base 60. There is no reason why the number of fingers should be the sole determinant of one's preferred number base.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: quadibloc on October 05, 2010, 06:06:10 am
That said, I wish the French had been bold enough to adopt base 12 or base 60. There is no reason why the number of fingers should be the sole determinant of one's preferred number base.
It is true that numbers like 12, 60, and 72 turn up quite a bit in measurement systems. It is convenient to be able to divide things into various numbers of equal parts without having to resort to fractions - or, perhaps more to the point, repeating decimals.

Given, however, that our names for numbers are derived from base 10, as are both Roman and Arabic numerals, had the French been so bold, the metric system would just have sunk without a trace, like the French revolutionary calendar. By conforming to our pre-existing system for dealing with number, the virtue of the metric system was obvious: it made measure conform to number, making arithmetic with measures simple and automatic.

However, the virtue of dividing things into thirds and quarters easily was recognized to the extent that the metric system used the second, rather than, say, the milliday, as its unit of time. I suppose one could have a second metric system, in which the unit of weight is 864 grams or 27 grams, and the unit of length is 864 millimeters or 27 centimeters - so that anything measured out in the second metric system could be divided into thirds in the first one. But the consistent scaling would break down if one tried to find the equivalents of Newtons and Joules and Ohms in such a system. But no one tries to build derived units from the day instead of the second... so one could, I suppose, have supplemental "everyday" units of length and weight.

A pound is 453.69 grams, and an inch 2.54 centimeters. What if a "metric pound" were 453.6 grams... equal to 81 times 7 times 0.8 grams? Or if a "metric inch" were 2.52 centimeters, equal to 9 times 7 times 0.04 centimeters? That's probably too crazy an idea, even if it fits with the precedent of the relation between the day and the second.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: Roland on October 09, 2010, 04:54:53 am
Quote
Since you mention time zones, it is fair to say that railroads voluntarily chose to adopt uniform time zones, instead of the local time in each of hundreds of different cities and towns along the way.

Yep. Precisely. And that was a big step towards unity.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: J Thomas on October 09, 2010, 09:20:22 am
Quote
Since you mention time zones, it is fair to say that railroads voluntarily chose to adopt uniform time zones, instead of the local time in each of hundreds of different cities and towns along the way.

Yep. Precisely. And that was a big step towards unity.

Of course, before railroads it didn't matter. If it takes you days to get very far, you might as well consider noon to be when the sun is at its highest wherever you happen to be.

Railroads invented "railroad time" for their own convenience, and then they foisted it off on everybody else.

If the british government had been paying attention, they might have set Greenwich time as the one true time all over their empire, and maybe got everybody else to go along with that. I'm sure the railroads everywhere would have been fine with it.Then we'd be spared the stupid time zones etc. But instead they muddled through.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: SandySandfort on October 09, 2010, 09:49:58 am
Railroads invented "railroad time" for their own convenience, and then they foisted it off on everybody else.

Another wiggle word, JThomas? Dictionary.com says:

foist
1.
to force upon or impose fraudulently or unjustifiably (usually fol. by on or upon): to foist inferior merchandise on a customer.
2.
to bring, put, or introduce surreptitiously or fraudulently (usually fol. by in or into): to foist political views into a news story.

Who do you thing the railroads are, the government? Please tell us by which definition the railroads "foisted" their internal time standard on "everyone else"? Or did you just mean, the general public recognized the value of having a consistent time standard and voluntarily became "free riders" on the railroads' time system?
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: quadibloc on October 09, 2010, 10:06:10 am
Or did you just mean, the general public recognized the value of having a consistent time standard and voluntarily became "free riders" on the railroads' time system?
It could have been that the general public recognized the value of being able to show up on time to catch a train, and so if the railroads were too lazy to publish schedules which followed the local times in actual use in communities, people may not really have had much choice in the matter.

The standard time system would have had value to some people - astronomers would have enjoyed the ability to convert civil time to GMT merely by subtracting an integer number of hours - but in those days, they didn't have the Internet, there wasn't a lot of business being conducted by telephone, and so for the clock in any given city to correspond as closely as possible to the Sun is, quite possibly, what people valued more.

Of course, in hindsight, Standard Time was a great gift to the world. But while this was a positive reform, we shouldn't harbor illusions about the ease of the transition - and so, even if "foist" might not be the word everyone would choose, that doesn't mean it's completely inappropriate.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: J Thomas on October 09, 2010, 07:47:52 pm
Railroads invented "railroad time" for their own convenience, and then they foisted it off on everybody else.

Who do you thing the railroads are, the government? Please tell us by which definition the railroads "foisted" their internal time standard on "everyone else"? Or did you just mean, the general public recognized the value of having a consistent time standard and voluntarily became "free riders" on the railroads' time system?

It looks to me like -- at the time -- the only value of railroad time was to deal with railroads. It wasn't particularly an issue for anything else.

When we got radio then people would want to know when their favorite radio shows would start, and those shows could come from distant communities. And when we got long distance telephones it was useful to sychronise times.

But railroads were the first. Unless you needed to meet a railroad schedule, it didn't matter.

Quote
The standard time system would have had value to some people - astronomers would have enjoyed the ability to convert civil time to GMT merely by subtracting an integer number of hours

Why would an astronomer care about civil time? He needs to know his precise longitude, and civil time could easily be as much as half an hour off.

Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: SandySandfort on October 09, 2010, 11:16:28 pm
Railroads invented "railroad time" for their own convenience, and then they foisted it off on everybody else.

Who do you thing the railroads are, the government? Please tell us by which definition the railroads "foisted" their internal time standard on "everyone else"? Or did you just mean, the general public recognized the value of having a consistent time standard and voluntarily became "free riders" on the railroads' time system?

It looks to me like -- at the time -- the only value of railroad time was to deal with railroads. It wasn't particularly an issue for anything else.

So that is your defense of the use of the word "foisting"? Are you going to dodge every request for clarification? Try and focus, JThomas. You said "foist." Did you mean it? If so, what dictionary definition (not your "It looks to me..." obfuscation). Did the railroads foist railroad time on everyone or not? Yes or no. Support you lame assertion for Chaos sake! I am really getting tired of your unsupported and undefended nonsense. Don't be such a coward.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: J Thomas on October 10, 2010, 04:28:19 am
Railroads invented "railroad time" for their own convenience, and then they foisted it off on everybody else.

Who do you thing the railroads are, the government? Please tell us by which definition the railroads "foisted" their internal time standard on "everyone else"? Or did you just mean, the general public recognized the value of having a consistent time standard and voluntarily became "free riders" on the railroads' time system?

It looks to me like -- at the time -- the only value of railroad time was to deal with railroads. It wasn't particularly an issue for anything else.

So that is your defense of the use of the word "foisting"? Are you going to dodge every request for clarification? Try and focus, JThomas. You said "foist." Did you mean it? If so, what dictionary definition (not your "It looks to me..." obfuscation). Did the railroads foist railroad time on everyone or not? Yes or no. Support you lame assertion for Chaos sake! I am really getting tired of your unsupported and undefended nonsense. Don't be such a coward.

<sigh>

foist  (foist)
tr.v. foist·ed, foist·ing, foists
1. To pass off as genuine, valuable, or worthy: "I can usually tell whether a poet . . . is foisting off on us what he'd like to think is pure invention" (J.D. Salinger).
2. To impose (something or someone unwanted) upon another by coercion or trickery: They had extra work foisted on them because they couldn't say no to the boss.
3. To insert fraudulently or deceitfully: foisted unfair provisions into the contract.

I want mostly #2. Impose by coercion with elements of #1.

Throughout history "noon" was when the sun was highest. Clocks let people measure their day more precisely, and in fact far more precisely than they needed.

The railroads changed that. They didn't want to track local times so they didn't. People who depended on trains could also depend on their clocks, and this was in fact the main thing that precise clocks were good for at that time, not counting specialist uses like navigation. Of course, for a good long time different railroads used different times, which was convenient for each individual railroad but for nobody else. They eventually settled on a single system for more than 90% of railroad stations. And then the government more or less adopted the railroad time.

It was convenient for railroads to change times by one hour at more-or-less arbitrary locations. It was not then and is not now particularly convenient for anybody else. And of course government regulation. Look what a mess it turned into!

http://www.timezonedistance.com/
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: quadibloc on October 10, 2010, 05:15:59 am
Why would an astronomer care about civil time? He needs to know his precise longitude, and civil time could easily be as much as half an hour off.
Well, in addition to knowing longitude, he would want to record when things happen, not just where they happen.

An astronomer might use local solar time to calculate local sidereal time, to know in which direction to point his telescope at a certain star. But GMT is also of importance - one can derive local solar time from that, knowing one's longitude - but besides that, if something happens in the sky, GMT, now known as UT, is the unambigous way of recording when it happened. Aside from rare events like novas, one would use GMT to calculate planetary and lunar positions, phenomena of the moons of Jupiter, and things like that.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: J Thomas on October 10, 2010, 05:50:53 am
Why would an astronomer care about civil time? He needs to know his precise longitude, and civil time could easily be as much as half an hour off.
Well, in addition to knowing longitude, he would want to record when things happen, not just where they happen.

An astronomer might use local solar time to calculate local sidereal time, to know in which direction to point his telescope at a certain star. But GMT is also of importance - one can derive local solar time from that, knowing one's longitude - but besides that, if something happens in the sky, GMT, now known as UT, is the unambigous way of recording when it happened. Aside from rare events like novas, one would use GMT to calculate planetary and lunar positions, phenomena of the moons of Jupiter, and things like that.

Yes, he needs local time and he needs GMT. If he knows his precise longitude he knows how to convert from one to the other easily. What is the mishmash of time zones good for? Some places they follow state lines, other places they don't in confusing ways. Meanwhile all of china is on a single time zone, one that russia happens to skip.

If the railroads had settled on GMT, would we be any worse off? If it was 3:15 Green versus 8:27 o'clock, who would really care?
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: quadibloc on October 10, 2010, 10:49:01 am
What is the mishmash of time zones good for?
As a citizen of Canada, where "half an hour later in Newfoundland" jokes are familiar, I can answer that question. While I think it is true that at the time the railroads introduced Standard Time, it mainly served the needs of the railroads, this is no longer true today.

Today, it is very useful to have the convenience that just about wherever you go in the world, the local time can be expressed as Universal Time plus or minus an integer number of hours - with no odd minutes or seconds. A very few places have time zones that differ by a half-integer number of hours - such as Newfoundland. This way, local civil time is, in effect, really only another name for UT - noon UT is also 5 AM Mountain Standard Time, both are different names for the same moment.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: SandySandfort on October 10, 2010, 01:48:56 pm
<sigh>

foist  (foist)
tr.v. foist·ed, foist·ing, foists
1. To pass off as genuine, valuable, or worthy: "I can usually tell whether a poet . . . is foisting off on us what he'd like to think is pure invention" (J.D. Salinger).
2. To impose (something or someone unwanted) upon another by coercion or trickery: They had extra work foisted on them because they couldn't say no to the boss.
3. To insert fraudulently or deceitfully: foisted unfair provisions into the contract.

I want mostly #2. Impose by coercion with elements of #1.

<sigh> So where is the coercion? Where is the trickery? What is your evidence that it was unwanted? What is your evidence that railroad time was not genuine, valuable or worthy?

People who depended on trains could also depend on their clocks, and this was in fact the main thing that precise clocks were good for at that time...

So people who voluntarily did business with the railroad, voluntarily used railroad time. The horror! And what about the people who didn't do business with the railroad? They decided to use railroad time because...?

They eventually settled on a single system for more than 90% of railroad stations. And then the government more or less adopted the railroad time.

So it was the government that actually did coerced everyone into adopting the same time system. Sounds as though your beef is with government.  :P
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: quadibloc on October 10, 2010, 02:31:39 pm
Sounds as though your beef is with government.
I'll wait until daylight savings time comes along to be indignant at government coercion.

Laziness and using market power - of course, we can blame government for letting the railroads be monopolies - is open to criticism. I agree that Standard Time is a good thing, but I see no reason to dispute the suspicion that at the time of its introduction, it was not regarded as worth the bother by most people. Although setting one's clock forwards or backwards about half an hour, once, isn't much bother either, compared to daylight savings time.

It may have been foisted on the public, but ultimately it turned out to be for the best. And the fact that this happened before governments got into the act was a good thing too; imagine if we lived in a world where there were two systems of time zones - one based on the meridian of Greenwich, and another one based on the meridian of Paris, about 9 minutes and 20 seconds ahead.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: J Thomas on October 10, 2010, 04:30:25 pm
What is the mishmash of time zones good for?
As a citizen of Canada, where "half an hour later in Newfoundland" jokes are familiar, I can answer that question. While I think it is true that at the time the railroads introduced Standard Time, it mainly served the needs of the railroads, this is no longer true today.

Today, it is very useful to have the convenience that just about wherever you go in the world, the local time can be expressed as Universal Time plus or minus an integer number of hours - with no odd minutes or seconds. A very few places have time zones that differ by a half-integer number of hours - such as Newfoundland. This way, local civil time is, in effect, really only another name for UT - noon UT is also 5 AM Mountain Standard Time, both are different names for the same moment.

How is this useful, compared to having GMT time and, if desired, local time? The second way, if you want to coordinate with people elsewhere you use GMT. If you want to do something involving the local day you can use a local time if you want to, or you can notice how far from GMT you are. GMT is universal. What good is it to add local times which can be off as much as 3 hours from the sun, and which have irregular borders where they switch by one or more hours?
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: SandySandfort on October 10, 2010, 04:31:58 pm
I'll wait until daylight savings time comes along to be indignant at government coercion.

Every year, I am amazed that anyone thinks Daylight Savings Time makes sense. It saves no energy and induces artificial jet lag into students, workers and... drivers. I lived in Arizona which did not observe DST and I loved it. I now live in the tropics, so no DST here either. Woo hoo!

Laziness and using market power - of course, we can blame government for letting the railroads be monopolies...

Let them? Oh my, you had better read some history. Most railroads were monopolies because of government interference in the market. Most received land concessions and other subsidies from the government. That is not the free market.

One notable exception was J.J. Hill's Great Northern Railway. the only privately funded, and successfully built, transcontinental railroad in United States history. No federal land grants  where used during its construction, unlike every other transcontinental railroad built. It was one of the few transcontinental railroads to avoid receivership following the Panic of 1893. Now that is the free market!
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: macsnafu on October 11, 2010, 11:35:39 am
Now's as good as time as any to complain about Daylight Savings Time, I think.  I'm not even going to wait until we're off it, now that we have an extra long period of it.  Who do they think they're kidding with DST?  Do they really believe DST results in an energy savings?  End DST!
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: terry_freeman on October 11, 2010, 04:03:05 pm
Time zones are not merely of convenience to people on railroads; anybody who drives, bicycles, walks, or rides a horse can easily cross a time zone, and thereby need to set one's watch ahead or back one hour. This is more convenient than changing one's watch every time one enters another town.

Imagine that you (who live in West Town ) and your friend ( in East Town ) agree to meet in Center Town for lunch at noon. Before railroads standardized on time zones, you might need to ask "which noon?" - since you, your friend, and the restaurant would have slightly different times. It was common practice for each town to set their clocks to local time, according to the sun.

Railroads discovered a problem and solved it via voluntary methods. They did not foist their solution upon others; it was still possible to set one's watch to local time, and to adjust one's habits in order to make the train - it's easy to remember, for example, that the train time is offset 12 minutes from local time in West Town, if you like. But over time, enough people liked railroad time to, ah, use the force of government to impose that standard on everyone. So, if you have a beef, your beef is with government, not with the railroads.

And I certainly have a beef with DST. If you think it's a pain to deal with setting your bedside alarm back and forth, try being a system administrator dealing with hundreds or thousands of computers, when governments periodically tweak the DST rules back and forth for political reasons. It's a major task to update DST configuration files across a large number of computers, all of them alike only slightly different.

Back to the issue of local time - bad as it is to tweak DST files, if we did not have timezones, then each computer would have to know its local position, and would have slightly different time than fellow computers a few miles away, or some convention would have to be adopted to standardize time. There are protocols - such as NFS - which require computers to be in very close agreement as to what time it is. It is also a considerable advantage when correlating log events across multiple computers to have such agreement; that's why system administrators install, configure, and maintain NTP ( the Network Time Protocol.)

Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: J Thomas on October 11, 2010, 06:44:36 pm
Time zones are not merely of convenience to people on railroads; anybody who drives, bicycles, walks, or rides a horse can easily cross a time zone, and thereby need to set one's watch ahead or back one hour. This is more convenient than changing one's watch every time one enters another town.

I claim that the inconvenience caused by time zones is usually fairly small for most individuals. It isn't of gigantic importance to give up this rather bad system and replace it with a good one. We have much more important reforms to make.

I am arguing with you about this as a sort of chitchat, not something that's important.

Quote
Imagine that you (who live in West Town ) and your friend ( in East Town ) agree to meet in Center Town for lunch at noon. Before railroads standardized on time zones, you might need to ask "which noon?" - since you, your friend, and the restaurant would have slightly different times. It was common practice for each town to set their clocks to local time, according to the sun.

If you want to get that just right, you can do it easier with GMT. If you want to use local time and you care about small differences east-west, then whether or not you have hour-long time-zones you should synchronize watches. If you don't bother to synchronize watches then you probably don't care about the time difference between East Town and West Town.

Quote
Back to the issue of local time - bad as it is to tweak DST files, if we did not have timezones, then each computer would have to know its local position, and would have slightly different time than fellow computers a few miles away, or some convention would have to be adopted to standardize time.

Why not do that with GMT? That's almost exactly what computers use now, except they replaced GMT by an atomic clock to get the same result without the occasional variation caused by wobbling planets etc. You can get your computer to display whatever time zone you prefer, of course.

Quote
There are protocols - such as NFS - which require computers to be in very close agreement as to what time it is. It is also a considerable advantage when correlating log events across multiple computers to have such agreement; that's why system administrators install, configure, and maintain NTP ( the Network Time Protocol.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coordinated_Universal_Time

The computer guys did it better than the railroad guys. Understandably, since they did it over a hundred years later.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: terry_freeman on October 11, 2010, 09:22:44 pm
Neither of us would want to synchronize watches with each other in the East-Center-West scenario; each of us would synchronize with local noon at the local clock tower, in order to be consistent with our neighbors. The restaurant, located somewhere betwixt East and West Town, would have a third local noon, which would be betwixt your watch and mine.

This was the norm, before the railroads voluntarily adopted time zones; every single town had its own clock tower and its own local time.

For reasons which may seem strange to superbly rational beings such as Dr. Bones, people tend to prefer their local time to GMT.

Mainland China, on the other hand, spans several "time zones", all of which are on Beijing time.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: quadibloc on October 11, 2010, 10:02:13 pm
I claim that the inconvenience caused by time zones is usually fairly small for most individuals. It isn't of gigantic importance to give up this rather bad system and replace it with a good one.
Now you've piqued my interest.

I agreed with your use of the word 'foist' because it did seem reasonable to me that, at the time Standard Time was introduced, the trouble of switching over would not have been felt to be necessary by most people.

However, I don't agree that it's a bad system. I think it's a very good system. It strikes a balance between having local time correspond to the Sun and having the convenience of everyone using the same time standard. This way, everyone uses a time corresponding roughly to their local time, and yet they have immediate access to GMT/UT from that local time.

Now, in some cases, governments have drawn time zone boundaries in a way that has inconvenienced people - like running all of China on Beijing time, the Soviet Union being on DST the year around, and numerous small-scale choices of in which time zone a particular place should be located. So people get up an hour early in Paris because the English Channel doesn't lie between France and Germany. But that is due to misuse of the system, not the system itself.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: J Thomas on October 12, 2010, 07:46:58 am
I claim that the inconvenience caused by time zones is usually fairly small for most individuals. It isn't of gigantic importance to give up this rather bad system and replace it with a good one.
Now you've piqued my interest.

I agreed with your use of the word 'foist' because it did seem reasonable to me that, at the time Standard Time was introduced, the trouble of switching over would not have been felt to be necessary by most people.

However, I don't agree that it's a bad system. I think it's a very good system. It strikes a balance between having local time correspond to the Sun and having the convenience of everyone using the same time standard. This way, everyone uses a time corresponding roughly to their local time, and yet they have immediate access to GMT/UT from that local time.

Now, in some cases, governments have drawn time zone boundaries in a way that has inconvenienced people - like running all of China on Beijing time, the Soviet Union being on DST the year around, and numerous small-scale choices of in which time zone a particular place should be located. So people get up an hour early in Paris because the English Channel doesn't lie between France and Germany. But that is due to misuse of the system, not the system itself.

I guess I might agree it's a middling-average system. Good enough for government work.

Time zones take the inconvenience of varying recorded times, and concentrate them at the irregular boundaries of the time zones. In return for the inconvenience we get time zones which do nothing right. They don't give you local times which fit the local day -- they can be up to 3 hours or so off, and if governments did it right they could still be up to one hour off, or a half hour in either direction. And they don't fit GMT. They are a hybrid which is not ideal for either purpose.

If we had used GMT for anything where you care about the time, and local time when you care about the day, probably we would have had watches with a dial around the edge. You set  your watch to GMT and then the dial shows how much to adjust for local time. The guys who want fourteen functions on their watches would get something that shows daybreak and sunset changing with the date.

It isn't a big deal. When the time zone boundary runs along a state line it doesn't bother people much at all. Even if you live near the state line, of course you have to expect things will be different on the other side. Similarly, it used to be that sometimes people living a few miles from each other would be in different area codes and so they'd pay long distance rates. The phone companies eventually fixed that one.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: quadibloc on October 12, 2010, 11:38:39 am
If we had used GMT for anything where you care about the time, and local time when you care about the day, probably we would have had watches with a dial around the edge. You set  your watch to GMT and then the dial shows how much to adjust for local time.
Now at least it is clear that this is the system that you would find preferable to Standard Time.

My first objection would be that watches have two hands. There are watches with a ring around the outside that you can turn - generally as a way of using the second hand to time things without the watch being a full-blown chronograph. With Standard Time, you could adjust a ring marked with the numbers 1 through 12 to indicate GMT. With your system - assuming local time was still rounded off to the nearest minute, instead of being exact to odd fractions of a second - you could use a ring with 60 divisions to convert from local time to Standard Time, but not from local time to GMT.

Now, Ben Franklin designed a clock with a spiral design on the front that had only one hand - the face of the clock showed four hours and the minutes they were made of. Maybe you're thinking of something ingenious like that, and I'm being too narrow in thinking only of the present-day clock design.

Or, since chronographs divide the seconds into five parts, for 300 divisions, what about a watch face where the scale of 60 minutes is within the face, not on its edge - the minute hand is short, the hour hand is long - and around the edge, one has a scale of 48 quarter-hours, further divided by small tick marks so that the hour hand moves against a scale marked in increments of five minutes? And a "semi-standard time" in which all local times are an integer number of five-minute periods away from GMT would certainly be almost as good as real local time even for farmers who have to tend their cows... then a single ridge around the edge would convert from that kind of local time to GMT.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: J Thomas on October 12, 2010, 05:03:10 pm
If we had used GMT for anything where you care about the time, and local time when you care about the day, probably we would have had watches with a dial around the edge. You set  your watch to GMT and then the dial shows how much to adjust for local time.
Now at least it is clear that this is the system that you would find preferable to Standard Time.

My first objection would be that watches have two hands. There are watches with a ring around the outside that you can turn - generally as a way of using the second hand to time things without the watch being a full-blown chronograph. With Standard Time, you could adjust a ring marked with the numbers 1 through 12 to indicate GMT. With your system - assuming local time was still rounded off to the nearest minute, instead of being exact to odd fractions of a second - you could use a ring with 60 divisions to convert from local time to Standard Time, but not from local time to GMT.

That sounds complicated. My thought is that if everybody uses GMT then everybody knows what time it is. Just like everybody in China knows what time it is.

What you want local time for, is to track sunrise, sunset, noon, and things like that. And how often do you need that precise to better than 15 minutes? A dial on the edge of your watch is fine for that. If you do need it precise, then you probably need to know something like what time GMT is sunset where you are today. Write that down and you're set.

Of course, if you usually track local time only to about 15 minutes then that isn't a whole lot better than time zones tracking local time to only about half an hour or an hour or two hours. But it's simpler and there's no real loss. The loss would have come to the people in 1870 or so who'd have had to get used to GMT, in place of a standard time which was just like local time except for being off. So we got an easy transition to something which had occasional glaring deficiencies, instead of a harder transition to something simpler and easier to use. Not really important, except maybe the example might be useful.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: terry_freeman on October 12, 2010, 05:16:55 pm
Back to the computers: customers prefer to see their local time, not GMT. They prefer the "time of day" to match what the local government has dictated for "Daylight Savings Time."

Under the hood, my computers use UCT. (this is an option - some people use the local time instead )

However, this UCT is adjusted by the local timezone file, which is not merely an adjustment of so many hours plus or minus; it has to understand the rules for "Daylight Savings Time" - and those rules are periodically changed by politicians. 

Whenever politicians change the rules, the timezone files must be updated on n machines, each of which is slightly different. In my last gig, I administered about 150 servers, and there were about ten slightly different methods or locations for administering the timezone/daylight savings time rules. Every single machine, from routers to firewalls to servers to terminal servers to filers to desktops and laptops, had to be updated.

I once administered thousands of servers, with even more varieties of operating systems of varying vintage. Now you understand one reason for my abiding loathing for political meddlers. ;)


Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: quadibloc on October 13, 2010, 08:28:19 am
My thought is that if everybody uses GMT then everybody knows what time it is. Just like everybody in China knows what time it is.

What you want local time for, is to track sunrise, sunset, noon, and things like that.
Ah. This is something which would simply not occur to me. To my mind, 12 noon means noon, and so on, and, thus, knowing GMT doesn't tell you what time it is unless you happen to live in Britain. Standard Time - if we get rid of certain wrong boundaries, and Daylight Savings Time - provides an adequate approximation to local time, and a sufficient connection to everyone else's time to vastly reduce the difficulties associated with dealings with people in distant places.

The idea that people could actually use GMT in their daily life, for making appointments, turning on the TV, and so on... did not occur to me. That could work on a space station, or on an inhospitable planet where people live by artificial light in underground caves.

Thus, because I took it absolutely for granted that people must live by local solar time, or an approximation thereof, I thought that the alternative to Standard Time would be local solar time. And so I saw two possibilities:

One, that the problem is that the nearest hour isn't a good enough approximation. So I noted that with a little ingenuity, the idea of a ring around the outside of a watch could be made to support a 5 minute step size. 15 minutes would be easier.

Two, that perhaps the problem is tying everyone to one meridian - so it's more the principle of the thing, as in an anarchic society, some towns would use the Paris meridian, or the meridian of their own observatory, wherever it happened to sit.

It is true that by talking about times in UT whenever we schedule appointments, we eliminate a potential source of confusion and error. This would be great for scheduling international conference calls. It might eventually happen, therefore, that some businesses with extensive international operations would set the clocks on their walls to UT - and face potential local government interference because UT doesn't shift to follow DST. That would originate in a nice anarchic free-enterprise fashion... it's just that I don't expect it to go as far as you envision. Business has its needs, but ordinary individuals have theirs: rule by large companies isn't what AnCap is about.

Whenever politicians change the rules, the timezone files must be updated on n machines, each of which is slightly different. In my last gig, I administered about 150 servers, and there were about ten slightly different methods or locations for administering the timezone/daylight savings time rules. Every single machine, from routers to firewalls to servers to terminal servers to filers to desktops and laptops, had to be updated.

I once administered thousands of servers, with even more varieties of operating systems of varying vintage. Now you understand one reason for my abiding loathing for political meddlers. ;)
Silly me. I would have thought that in a situation like that, you just set all the computers to display local standard time - because people don't usually use computers as clocks, and they usually remember when Daylight Savings Time is in effect.

The computers would still connect properly to the Internet, because they would keep correct UT, or UT with a correctly identified displacement, so they wouldn't be unable to send E-mail or things like that.

Oh, right. If you did that, then timestamps in your E-mail inbox, for example, would be misleading.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: terry_freeman on October 13, 2010, 09:19:05 am
People actually do expect computers to be consistent with each other and with local time. A lot of people - myself included - no longer use wristwatches. The time is displayed in the upper right corner of my computer display; I expect it to be the correct local time, according to local conditions, including that abomination known as Daylight Savings Time.

As a computer administrator, I expect the clock to be correct to a fraction of a second; this makes my job enormously easier, whenever I need to troubleshoot problems; some protocols (such as NFS) depend upon consistent time across different machines to work properly. (many computers use NFS to access remote files. If you need someone like me to administer your computers, your systems use NFS or something like it. )

In the asteroid belts, I expect GMT or some other universal standard to be used. I'm curious about the effects of distance and the speed of light - what does "at the same time" mean when speaking about two points separated by light-minutes? How does the tanglenet affect that question?

Back to the AnCap vs government question: governments get in the way. China has mandated that the entire country use Beijing Time - convenient for administrators in Beijing, but when does the sun rise in opposite ends of the country? I think the country is about four hours wide, as measured by the traverse of the sun. The US Congress tweaks Daylight Savings Time, and there are local variations - is it Arizona which does not use DST at all? My computers need to know far more about the world of politics than they should. I have no doubt that the first self-aware computers will protest angrily at the unreasonableness of it all.


Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: J Thomas on October 13, 2010, 10:25:30 am
My thought is that if everybody uses GMT then everybody knows what time it is. Just like everybody in China knows what time it is.

What you want local time for, is to track sunrise, sunset, noon, and things like that.
Ah. This is something which would simply not occur to me. To my mind, 12 noon means noon, and so on, and, thus, knowing GMT doesn't tell you what time it is unless you happen to live in Britain. ....

The idea that people could actually use GMT in their daily life, for making appointments, turning on the TV, and so on... did not occur to me. That could work on a space station, or on an inhospitable planet where people live by artificial light in underground caves.

If you care about when noon is where you are, you will know that it's right around 6 PM GMT, or 18:00 if you prefer. Or maybe if you care enough you will know that it's 18:28. There's no need for your clock to say 12:00 if you know what time it is.

If noon is actually 18:28 then you don't necessarily know when the stores open. Do they open at 14:00 or 15:00? You can't be sure, any more than you'll know whether a store opens at 8 AM or 9 AM or 10 AM. Unless you find out.

I don't know how much inconvenience China has from all being on the same time. If all the government offices have to be open at the same time etc, that would lead to some problems. But if the ones in the west can open later than the ones in the east, then it's a minor convenience that everybody knows what time it is without having to think about time zones. Then when you call somebody a long way away you have to consider where in their schedule they are -- just as you do now.

Once you get used to GMT there's no effort to it.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: quadibloc on October 13, 2010, 11:05:08 am
In the asteroid belts, I expect GMT or some other universal standard to be used. I'm curious about the effects of distance and the speed of light - what does "at the same time" mean when speaking about two points separated by light-minutes?
Presumably the inertial reference frame of the Sun's center of mass would be used as the basis for synchronizing clocks elsewhere with clocks on Earth - or, in the world of these stories, clocks on Mars.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: SandySandfort on October 13, 2010, 01:40:19 pm
Presumably the inertial reference frame of the Sun's center of mass would be used as the basis for synchronizing clocks elsewhere with clocks on Earth - or, in the world of these stories, clocks on Mars.

Don't forget the hypothetical tanglenet. Time signals can be transmitted and received instantaneously, anywhere in the universe.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: quadibloc on October 13, 2010, 05:29:19 pm
Don't forget the hypothetical tanglenet. Time signals can be transmitted and received instantaneously, anywhere in the universe.
In that case, I presume it defines a reference frame by doing that, and, of course, that would be the one people would use, since it would be the one in which causality is preserved.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: Brugle on October 13, 2010, 06:01:22 pm
Don't forget the hypothetical tanglenet. Time signals can be transmitted and received instantaneously, anywhere in the universe.
In that case, I presume it defines a reference frame by doing that, and, of course, that would be the one people would use, since it would be the one in which causality is preserved.
With instantaneous transmission of information, some assumption of modern physics would have to go, but I don't think it has to be causality anywhere.  It's been too long since I played with special relativity for me to make a suggestion.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: wdg3rd on October 13, 2010, 10:20:56 pm
Don't forget the hypothetical tanglenet. Time signals can be transmitted and received instantaneously, anywhere in the universe.
In that case, I presume it defines a reference frame by doing that, and, of course, that would be the one people would use, since it would be the one in which causality is preserved.

Preservation of causality is something that I doubt will ever be achieved, no matter how fast or slow information can be moved.  "Post hoc, ergo propter hoc" is eternal.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: quadibloc on October 14, 2010, 11:53:54 am
"Post hoc, ergo propter hoc" is eternal.
It's true that people will always confuse correlation with causation. However, I think causality is preserved in reality just fine. If I'm wrong, let me know when you figure out how to determine tomorrow's winning lottery numbers.

Also, I've just realized that if people did switch to using GMT routinely, there would be one thing about that which would be very hard to get used to.

It's bad enough that it will be 11 AM, or 1 PM, the same time everywhere, whether in the morning or the evening.

But what's worse is that it will be midnight everywhere at the same time. Which could be during the day, when most people are awake.

Generally speaking, most people are used to the idea that each day has a name of its own by which they may refer to it. So they can say, with confidence, "Today is Friday, December 15, 2010", without having to look at their watches. When midnight falls in the middle of the day, it isn't just that the clock seems strange - until you "get used to it". The calendar, which is linked to the clock, also starts behaving very strangely indeed.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: jamesd on October 16, 2010, 09:04:26 pm
Also, I've just realized that if people did switch to using GMT routinely, there would be one thing about that which would be very hard to get used to.

It's bad enough that it will be 11 AM, or 1 PM, the same time everywhere, whether in the morning or the evening.

But what's worse is that it will be midnight everywhere at the same time. Which could be during the day, when most people are awake.

Generally speaking, most people are used to the idea that each day has a name of its own by which they may refer to it. So they can say, with confidence, "Today is Friday, December 15, 2010", without having to look at their watches. When midnight falls in the middle of the day, it isn't just that the clock seems strange - until you "get used to it". The calendar, which is linked to the clock, also starts behaving very strangely indeed.

What we probably should have done, but never did do, is set the years by the seasons, the seasons by the position of the sun relative to the earth's axist, the week and month by the moon, the day by the sun, and the time by the position of the stars from a major observatory, and put up with the fact that none of them had a simple relationship to any of the others.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: quadibloc on October 16, 2010, 10:08:48 pm
What we probably should have done, but never did do, is set the years by the seasons, the seasons by the position of the sun relative to the earth's axist, the week and month by the moon, the day by the sun, and the time by the position of the stars from a major observatory, and put up with the fact that none of them had a simple relationship to any of the others.
I suppose we could have had a "week" based on the four quarters of the Moon, and a lunar month, but I don't think that many people would see the point in that.

As for the time by the position of the stars from a major observatory: that would mean the day would not be set by the Sun. I don't think that anyone would want to live by a 23 hour, 56 minute, and 4 second long day. Even if that is the actual period of the rotation of the Earth. But then you probably didn't mean that - I hope.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: jamesd on October 17, 2010, 03:12:10 am
What we probably should have done, but never did do, is set the years by the seasons, the seasons by the position of the sun relative to the earth's axis, the week and month by the moon, the day by the sun, and the time by the position of the stars from a major observatory, and put up with the fact that none of them had a simple relationship to any of the others.
I suppose we could have had a "week" based on the four quarters of the Moon, and a lunar month, but I don't think that many people would see the point in that.

Around where I live, a lot of people's lives are ruled by how high the tides are, which depends on the phase of the moon.  How much light there is at night also matters.
Title: Re: Metric?
Post by: Archonix on October 21, 2010, 05:14:08 am
Ahh... I'm glad I didn't keep posting. This has been an interesting read. :D