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Friday, 31 August 2007
Sun Clock

sun dial

Answers.com discuss the measurement of time:

The origins of our current measurement system go back to the Sumerian civilization of approximately 2000 BC. This is known as the Sumerian Sexagesimal System based on the number 60. 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour - and possibly a calendar with 360 (60x6) days in a year (with a few more days added on). Twelve also features prominently, with roughly 12 hours of day and 12 of night, and 12 months in a year.

A large variety of devices have been invented to measure time. The study of these devices is called horology.

An Egyptian device dating to c.1500 BCE, similar in shape to a bent T-square, measured the passage of time from the shadow cast by its crossbar on a non-linear rule. The T was oriented eastward in the mornings. At noon, the device was turned around so that it could cast its shadow in the evening direction.

A sundial uses a gnomon to cast a shadow on a set of markings which were calibrated to the hour. The position of the shadow marked the hour in local time. Pliny the Elder records that the first sundial in Rome was looted from Catania, Sicily (264 BCE), which gave the incorrect time for a century, until the markings appropriate for the latitude of Rome were used (164 BCE). Noontime was an event which could be marked by the time of the shortest shadow on a sundial. This was used in Rome to judge when a court of law was open; lawyers had to be at the court by that time.

Wikipedia has a more interesting definition of time itself:

There are two distinct views on the meaning of time.

One view is that time is part of the fundamental structure of the universe, a dimension in which events occur in sequence, and time itself is something that can be measured. This is the realist’s view, to which Sir Isaac Newton subscribed, and hence is sometimes referred to as Newtonian time.

A contrasting view is that time is part of the fundamental intellectual structure (together with space and number). Within this structure, humans sequence events, quantify the duration of events and the intervals between them, and compare the motions of objects. In this second view, time does not refer to any kind of entity that “flows”, that objects “move through”, or that is a “container” for events. This view is in the tradition of Gottfried Leibniz and Immanuel Kant, in which time, rather than being an objective thing to be measured, is part of the measuring system used by humans.

Interestingly, large chunks of the text of both entries are electronic carbon copies.

Meanwhile, according to Newsweek:

China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is “an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation.”

You couldn’t make that up.

Posted by bigblue on 31/08/2007 at 02:45 PM
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