Author Topic: Time: Why are there 60 minutes?  (Read 171 times)

Offline Deb

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It's those Sumerians again...

"The origins of the sixty-second minute and sixty-minute hour can be traced all the way back to ancient Mesopotamia. In the same way that modern mathematics is a decimal system based on the number ten, the Sumerians mainly used a sexigesimal structure that was based around groupings of 60. This easily divisible number system was later adopted by the ancient Babylonians, who used it make astronomical calculations on the lengths of the months and the year. Base-60 eventually fell out of use, but its legacy still lives on in the measurements of the both hour and the minute. Other remnants of the Sumerian sexigesimal system have survived in the form of spatial measurements such as the 360 degrees in a circle and the 12 inches in a foot."

https://www.history.com/news/history-lists/9-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-ancient-sumerians

and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexagesimal

Offline LarryH

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This reminds me that a few years ago I came up with a theory of how seconds came to be. I routinely walk about 45 minutes a day and was curious about how I could calculate distance by counting steps. I counted my steps for a known distance and did the math. I had already determined that my gait was 5 feet per two steps. The math resulted in me realizing that every two steps took me exactly one second. I realized that this may have been how marching armies in ancient times were able to tell how far they had traveled. Consider that marching would result in an averaging of a large group's gait, possibly at my 5 feet per two steps. If someone were to keep track of the number of steps, they could have a fairly accurate estimate of distance traveled. 5 X 60 would be 300 ft (or 100 yds) per minute, a nice round number. Now, I have always wondered about the oddly random-seeming number of feet in a mile. So today I thought, I wonder if 5,280 is divisible by 60? It is! 5,280/60=88!

Offline Deb

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Ha ha Larry, you and I have very different concepts of fun. I have very little brain for math, so I'm impressed that you did that. And the marching, Mile High 5280—I wouldn't have thought of that either. It makes sense that miles are based on the same system as inches and feet. I'm suddenly feeling like the US is way behind the world by not using the metric system. About 4,000 years behind...

Offline LarryH

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Quote from: Deb
Ha ha Larry, you and I have very different concepts of fun.
Wait til I get around to attempting to articulate my models of the universe. Yes, I get off on those creative insights, whether or not they are accurate.

 

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