VSauce/YouTube

WATCH: How do you tell time in the Universe?

It's all relative.

BEC CREW
17 JUN 2016
 

Have you got a bff who's there for you 24/7? And not just some days, 365 days a year? You must think you're pretty special, right? Well, Michael from Vsauce has got some sick burns for you, because if your buddy truly has your back, 24/7/365 just isn't good enough. On this big blue marble we call Earth, 'all the time' equals 24.0000006/7/365.2421891.

 

That ridiculous nerd burn is actually the basis of some pretty strange historic anomalies. Like, did you know Washington had three birthdays?

If you Google it, you'll get 22 February 1732 for George Washington's birthday, but if you go right to the source of his family Bible, you'll see it written as "11 February 1731/2". So which is it, George? What are you hiding back there?

Not only that, but in 1752, the UK seems to have lost 11 entire days in September. Check out a calendar - they're simply not there. 

There's a very good reason for all of this weirdness, and it comes down to how Earth moves in relation to the rest of the Universe. Yep, we're talking about the concept of time.

We all know that Earth spins on an angle as it spins around the Sun, but that very motion means that no one point on Earth is experiencing time in the same way.

While technically your meridian - the line between the north and south poles that you're currently standing on - determines the exact time of day it is, we've had to generalise into much easier, but far less accurate, time zones (for obvious reasons).

Figuring out these universal and local time zones according to what a day, month, year, and even hour it is was no small feat for humanity to wrap its head around, because what are these hours and days measured in relation to? How do you measure something in relation to the entire Universe?

Check out the episode of Vsauce above to find out, and gain a whole new perspective on just how incredibly awesome it is that we even have calendars and watches, and GPS devices with clocks that take Earth's gravitational pull into consideration. Thank you, science.

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