zombie

01-17-2000, 05:50 AM

Cecil --

EMERGENCY LETTER!

If you have not already written in advance all your columns up to Leap Day 2000, please address this important issue before that fateful day!

Everyone knows that all years divisible by four are leap years. And by now, anyone paying attention to the media know-it-alls has learned of the exceptions: that years ending in --00 are usually NOT leap years, unless the --00 year is divisible by 400 in which case it IS again a leap year. So that Leap Day 2000 is an incredibly rare event that crops up only once every 400 years -- February 29 occurring on the first year of a century.

Here's my question: The earth takes approximately 365.2422 days to go around the sun. To accomodate for this annoying fractional day, we have devised a series of exceptions (leap day every four years), exceptions to the exceptions (no leap day in -00 years), and exceptions to the exceptions to the exceptions (unless that --00 year is divisible by 400). When you add up all the fractions and convert to decimal, you find that ON AVERAGE over a span of 400 years the length of a year according to our calendar is 365.2425 days -- which is pretty close to reality. But not close enough for some people. I have read in more than one musty treatise of a proposal to make the calendar even more accurate by declaring all years divisible by 4000 (i.e. 4000 A.D., 8000 A.D., etc.) NON-leap years, even though they "ought" to be leap years according to the "leap if its divisible by 400" exception, which we are observing right now in 2000 AD.

This ultimate refinement of the calendar would make the length of an average year over a span of 4000 years to be 365.24225 days (correct me if I added up my fractions wrong), a level of accuracy so precise it that will keep the calendar pretty much on track with the natural seasons until the earth starts slowing down in its orbit or the sun supernovas.

This "no leap year in 4000 A.D." proposal was bandied about in the '30s and '40s, but the last reference to it I can find is from 1945. What ever became of it? Was it officially adopted, and is now an acknowledged but rarely discussed part of our calendar system? Or was it abandoned and forgotten? Or has the system of "leap seconds" we hear about occasionally taken the place of the 4000 A.D. rule?

Cecil, help! We're already halfway to 4000 A.D. and we've haven't even resolved this life-threatening issue! Sure, Y2K was a blowout, and Y10K is too far off to worry about. But Y4K -- now THERE's a disaster waiting to happen. I've started stockpiling flamethrowers and granola bars already --JUST IN CASE.

-- Tuffy

Berkeley, CA

EMERGENCY LETTER!

If you have not already written in advance all your columns up to Leap Day 2000, please address this important issue before that fateful day!

Everyone knows that all years divisible by four are leap years. And by now, anyone paying attention to the media know-it-alls has learned of the exceptions: that years ending in --00 are usually NOT leap years, unless the --00 year is divisible by 400 in which case it IS again a leap year. So that Leap Day 2000 is an incredibly rare event that crops up only once every 400 years -- February 29 occurring on the first year of a century.

Here's my question: The earth takes approximately 365.2422 days to go around the sun. To accomodate for this annoying fractional day, we have devised a series of exceptions (leap day every four years), exceptions to the exceptions (no leap day in -00 years), and exceptions to the exceptions to the exceptions (unless that --00 year is divisible by 400). When you add up all the fractions and convert to decimal, you find that ON AVERAGE over a span of 400 years the length of a year according to our calendar is 365.2425 days -- which is pretty close to reality. But not close enough for some people. I have read in more than one musty treatise of a proposal to make the calendar even more accurate by declaring all years divisible by 4000 (i.e. 4000 A.D., 8000 A.D., etc.) NON-leap years, even though they "ought" to be leap years according to the "leap if its divisible by 400" exception, which we are observing right now in 2000 AD.

This ultimate refinement of the calendar would make the length of an average year over a span of 4000 years to be 365.24225 days (correct me if I added up my fractions wrong), a level of accuracy so precise it that will keep the calendar pretty much on track with the natural seasons until the earth starts slowing down in its orbit or the sun supernovas.

This "no leap year in 4000 A.D." proposal was bandied about in the '30s and '40s, but the last reference to it I can find is from 1945. What ever became of it? Was it officially adopted, and is now an acknowledged but rarely discussed part of our calendar system? Or was it abandoned and forgotten? Or has the system of "leap seconds" we hear about occasionally taken the place of the 4000 A.D. rule?

Cecil, help! We're already halfway to 4000 A.D. and we've haven't even resolved this life-threatening issue! Sure, Y2K was a blowout, and Y10K is too far off to worry about. But Y4K -- now THERE's a disaster waiting to happen. I've started stockpiling flamethrowers and granola bars already --JUST IN CASE.

-- Tuffy

Berkeley, CA