Taking A Wild Leap

It’s February 29th, which doesn’t happen that often, so I figured I might comment in my unique and inimitable style. But first, what did I have to say about this unusual date four years ago? Oddly, pretty much NOTHING AT ALL about the date, but a bunch of really nice pictures of Clay Lacy’s DC-3.

It’s no doubt an amazing aircraft, but… Leap Day? Nothing?

Okay, so let’s make up for that a bit. Acknowledging that it’s a day that only comes once every four years and even then not in years evenly divided by 100 unless it’s also a year evenly divisible by 400 (a good summary here), the random synapse firing that occurred to my somewhat sleep deprived brain was along the lines of, “That’s messy. I don’t like it. Why don’t we fix it?”

And by “fix it” of course, I’m not talking about coming up with some weird and unique calendar that somehow does away with that quarter of a day (“ish”) that’s extra. I’m talking about moving the planet’s orbit so that it’s a precisely even number of days long.

Go big or go home!

Since the Earth’s orbit takes it around the Sun in 365.25 days, the easiest way to get to an even integer would be to get rid of the 0.25 days. Moving the Earth closer to the Sun would make it orbit faster, so it would be easier to go to 365 days than to 366.

But…

If we go to a precise 365 day orbit, all of those folks born on February 29th would never, ever again have a birthday. Plus, of course, by moving the Earth closer to the Sun when we’re already destroying it with climate change would mean that we’ll fry and die that much sooner, so maybe that would be a second negative on that plan.

Plus, with a 365 day year, we still have that somewhat annoying “extra” day in there that means that if this year your birthday is on a Monday, next year it will be on a Tuesday, and the year after that a Wednesday, and so on. Still messy.

So let’s move the Earth even closer to the Sun and give it a 364-day orbit! This solves the calendar problem completely! Thirteen months of 28 days each! Uniformity! Standardization! Easy to remember!

Oh, right, it’s also boring. We would also fry and die a LOT faster, which most days I would consider to be bad thing, but frying and dying fast while being bored is so, so much worse.

Instead, I think we’ll have to move the Earth’s orbit out, away from the sun. This gives us a slightly longer year while simultaneously helping to cool the planet so that we can continue sans guilt to burn fossil fuels like they’re going out of style.

Moving out to a precise 366-day orbit doesn’t give us a fantastic, evenly divisible calendar. We would have to go out to a 372-day orbit to do that, and that might be far enough away from the Sun that we would freeze to death slowly instead of frying and dying quickly, so let’s table that idea.

No, the 366-day orbit gets my vote. It makes permanent leap years, which we’re already used to. We’ve all seen tons of February 29ths – now we would just see them every year.

We would also still have an annual variance in respect to which dates fall on which days of the week. The 366-day calendar gives us 52 weeks plus two days, but since there are seven days in a week, the match of days of the week to dates on the calendars would repeat every seven years. In other words, if your birthday was on Monday this year it would be on Wednesday in 2021, on Friday in 2022, on Sunday in 2023, on Tuesday in 2024, on Thursday in 2025, on Saturday in 2026, and again on Monday in 2027.

A little bit regular, but not boring!

(And saving the world in good measure!)

I hope that someone gets right on this.

Image result for make it so meme gif

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Filed under Astronomy, Deep Thoughts, Paul

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