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THE JULIAN CALENDAR USTA BE just fine, thank you, until Pope Gregory XIII was informed in 1582 that the actual length of a year was a tad less than the Julian calendar’s 365 days 6 hours. Among other things, this discrepancy screwed up Easter coming at the wrong time.
Quid hic infernum agitur? (Latin for “What the hell’s going on here?”)
As noted by Wikipedia, “Gregory subsequently decreed, by the papal bull Inter gravissimas of 24 February 1582, that the day after Thursday, 4 October 1582 would be the fifteenth, not the fifth, of October.”
Wikipedia observes, “Much of the populace bitterly opposed this reform; they feared it was an attempt by landlords to cheat them out of a week and a half’s rent.”
Well, isn’t that always the way?
Pope Gregory’s Pandora’s Box. “However,” Wikipedia notes, the Catholic countries of Spain, Portugal, Poland-Lithuania, and the Italian states complied. France, some states of the Dutch Republic and various Catholic states in Germany and Switzerland (both countries were religiously split) followed suit within a year or two. Austria and Hungary followed in 1587.”
But wait, there’s more, including another “However”: “However,” repeated Wikipedia, “more than a century passed before Protestant Europe accepted the new calendar. Denmark-Norway, the remaining states of the Dutch Republic, and the Protestant states of the Holy Roman Empire and Switzerland adopted the Gregorian reform in 1700–01. By that time, the calendar trailed the seasons by 11 days. Great Britain and its American colonies adopted the reformed calendar in 1752, where Wednesday 2 September 1752 was immediately followed by Thursday 14 September 1752; they were joined by the last Protestant holdout, Sweden, on 1 March 1753.”
To this day, we can quibble about George Washington’s actual birthday: February 22, 1732 (new style) or February 11, 1731 (actual). Not only was there Pope Gregory’s 11 days, but in 1750 the Brits moved New Year’s Day from March 25 to January 1. See “Did Shakespeare Celebrate Christmas?” for more details.
Our Finer Times. Much Finer. AAAS Science magazine, December 2, 2022, notes, “The controversial leap second, which time keepers add sporadically to keep atomic clocks aligned with Earth’s rotation, will be axed in 2035, the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) decided on 18 November.”
Science continues, “Devised in 1972 and used 27 times since, the leap second wreaks havoc with modern-day telecommunications, banking, and other networks. Its abandonment means that astronomical time, based on Earth’s rotation, will slowly diverge from Coordinated Universal Time, based on vibrations of cesium in atomic clocks.”
Putting Things Off. “BIPM plans to stop adding leap seconds for 100 years,” Science says, “by which time someone may have figured out a long-term fix for the problem.”
Big and Little. The same Science News Item notes, “In addition, BIPM added new prefixes to the International System of Units to define very big and very small measurements. For example, 1 ronnameter (Rm) is 1 billion billion billion meters and 1 quettameter (Qm), 1000 times bigger still; 1 rontometer (rm) is one-billionth of a billionth of a billionth of 1 meter and 1 quectometer (qm), one thousandth of that.”
Geez. Isn’t it about time? SimanaitisSays and Science beat the BIPM by more than three years (of whichever calendar length you wish, Julian, Gregorian, or leap-seconded). ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022