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Making time: RUST revisited

By: Riley on the 28th May 2010 at 8:01am


A long time ago before there were galaxies, stars, or indeed anything, something happened. Something out of nothing. The Universe happened and then started to exist. It continues to exist to this day. Humans then started to exist and continued to do so as well. They tried to measure how long they existed and they started giving names to the periods they used to measure time: Tides, hours, seconds, months and lunchtimes all started to exist.

The problem with the Humans' system of time measurement was that it was all very... Terrestrial. When aliens  called the Humans and tried to arrange a time to meet up, the terrestrial time system was so wildly Earth-centric that the aliens missed the Humans by several billion years, which is why that extra place setting will probably be quite dusty by the time they arrive. Time, you see, works differently depending on where in the Universe you are. A second on Earth lasts for about a second, but on the event horizon of a black hole, that same second will appear to last for... years, possibly - I haven't done the maths. Time, it seems, responds to the amount of energy and mass in any given area. The more mass (and thus energy) in an area, the slower the time will appear to move to an outside observer.

With this in mind, I introduce to you (or reintroduce if you've heard me mumbling about this before) Riley Universal Standard Time or RUST for short. The goals of RUST are simple: to develop a reliable and universal (in every sense) time measurement system. RUST is a metric system, which is important. No more of this 24 hours, 60 seconds malarkey. Everything works in tens. For convenience we shall retain the Earth second for the moment (although I maintain the right to revoke and replace the second as a more suitable alternative rears it's head), so there are 100 seconds to a RUST minute and 100 RUST minutes in a RUST hour. A day will then last for 10 hours. Thus, a RUST day will last for 100,000 seconds or 27.7 Earth hours. I'll also allocate convenient names to RUST minutes, hours and days as appropriate - but the conventional names will suffice for the moment.

Weeks will now be made up of 10 days. You can allocate your weekends however you see fit - it's all shift work in space anyway, so the rigid weekend/weekday structure as we know it is pretty redundant. A year is now 100 days long as well. That works out to 115.7 Earth days to a RUST year. Oh, and there are no more pesky leap years or Daylight Savings Time or anything ridiculous like that. It's fool-proof.

The RUST epoch (0/0/0, 0:00) is at midnight on the 28th August 14,000,000,000 B.C. - the current estimated date of the Big Bang. There is one slight drawback to RUST, however: There isn't a watch capable of accurately measuring it at the moment. A RUST approved watch would have to measure gravity and velocity of the wearer...

Thankfully and as previously stated, until we're actually in space we can use the Earth second. However, if anyone could get cracking building a prototype, I'd be very grateful.

"What's the point?"
Sure, RUST doesn't bear much relevance here on Earth, but as soon as we get into space properly, you'll thank me.

"What's in it for you?"
What, aside from the obvious fame and fortune? But seriously, the fame and fortune is enough.

"What's wrong with the current system?"
It only works on this planet. It's based on our knowledge of our own planet's motion and has a whole bunch of peculiarities to compensate for our developing knowledge of our place in the solar system. For example, our months were originally designed to measure the phases of the moon. One lunar cycle lasts approximately 29.5 days. To then fit this with the solar calendar, you have to pad out the months to make 365 days. Then every 4 years you add another day. WTF? Ditch it. It's rubbish.

"Why not divide the Universe into 24 segments so you can still observe the time zones relative to Earth?"
You're mental, right? So you remain in a fixed point in the heavens, and the Earth revolves. "Oh, the Earth has moved, I'm now on French time." Yeah, great idea.

"Rather than this super-complicated watch, why not just send the time to your chronometer using radio waves like those G-shock watches synced to atomic clocks?"
Radio waves travel at a finite speed. If you were to travel at the speed of light they'd never catch up with you. Once they reach you, the information is out of date. You'd have to know your distance from Earth (the assumed source of the data) to work out how much you'd have to compensate to know the 'true' time. A watch that just tells the time would be more useful.

"How does the RUST watch measure gravity?"
Current gravimeters need to be stationary and undisturbed in order to work. A wrist-worn version would have to negate the effects of any vibration. This is beyond our technical capabilities at the moment, which is a shame. As I said, volunteers to build me a prototype will be welcome and handsomely rewarded with a beer.

"What's the current time in RUST?"
I've no idea, I haven't worked it out yet. I'll be building an official RUST homepage at some point in the future that will have a clock on it so you can tell the time in RUST.

"Are there any other advantages?"
3 new years' parties to every one of your Human ones! When I work out when they are, I'll be sending out invites.


Leave one +
  • Bexley, United Kingdom

    Riley on the 31st December 2010 at 9:35am

    Well, I thought it was a good idea anyway!

  • Bexley, United Kingdom

    Riley on the 31st December 2010 at 9:42am

    Well, I thought it was a good idea anyway!

  • Bexley, United Kingdom

    Riley on the 31st December 2010 at 9:50am

    Well, I thought it was a good idea anyway!

  • Bexley, United Kingdom

    Riley on the 31st December 2010 at 9:51am

    Well, I thought it was a good idea anyway!