Friday, February 29, 2008

Its LEAP year Again!!

Its February 29th again!! You get to see it only once in four years. One of those million things that seemed to puzzle me as a kid!It is interesting how as kids, certain things otherwise accepted (by adults) as obvious can seem utterly incomprehensible, and uselessly confusing!

I am sure anybody's childhood will have been strewn with several of these doubts, which remain still unanswered, but remain locked up in some compartment inside the brain and is prevented from surfacing itself in an adult world!
Here are some glimpses:
1. Why should the Febraury of a Leap year have 29 days?

If you thought that was a stupid question, think again (chances are that you are too old to admit it!) . Yes! the year is not exactly 365 days , but approximately 365.25 days and we compensate for the 0.25 days accumulated over 4 years, and gift the leap year one extra day! Fine so far. However that only poses furthur questions. Like

2. Why does a year have 365.25 days and not 365?,

I mean , is it not purely because each day is 24 hours and not 27 hours , or even better, cant we call 75 minutes as 1 hour instead of 60? thereby offsetting the 0.25 days error accumulating over four years period of time, in every hour. Interesting eh?

3. Why cant all months have equal number of days?

6th standard science would teach , that the Earth performs an elliptical motion around the sun, and not a perfectly circular motion. The velocity of motion being slower around the corners and faster when the distance to the sun is the closest. If that were true, the months that should be longer when the velocity of the earth were the slowest. But since that is not the case, and since convinience supercedes accuracy in all such cases (Probably in every single case!) , why cant we make it perfectly convinient and make a year having 12 months of 30 days each a total of 360 days, and furthur accomodate another 5 days by making each hour equal to 90 minutes instead of 75!

Just picture this , 1 hour = 90 minutes, 1 day =24 hours!,1 month = 30 days and 1 year =12 months. No leap years and no trouble with forgetting whether March has 31 days or 30!!

4. Why does the rainbow have 7 colors?

I mean , the rainbow has (with scientific certainity) all colors of the visible spectrum. Why then do we chose the 7 previliged colors alone? There is a color between Violet and Indigo and between Indigo and Green, why omit them and chose only 7 colors, more inconvinient with 7 being a prime number and our forefathers choosing 7 as the number of days in a week.Why cant we say the rainbow has 10 colors, Violet , VIndigo, Indigo, Ireen, Green ,blue, Blellow, Yellow , Orange and Red?That way our forefathers would have made 10 days a week and 3 weeks a month.

Wouldnt that be lovely? We could still have weekends 3 days long!! and still work for 21 days, as against the current 20!! 1 extra day of work and 1 extra day on a week end!!

Well! that wasn't to be!! we still live in a world with Leap years, 2 day week ends, and 20 days of work. Besides some months like February we get lesser weekends and lesser days to work. Funny Isn't it?



5 comments:

Hari said...

Nice Observation.

Sita said...

I also still wonder why Feb has 29 days in a leap year.

Some other doubts that make me wonder are:

1) Why was February chosen among the 12 months to have 28 days for a non leap year and 29 days for a leap year while the other months have 30 or 31 days.

2) Does a person born on Feb 29 celebrate his bday only once in 4 years or does he celebrate it on Feb 28th or March 1st every non leap year?

I wonder....

rohini said...

It is very interesting to read.Even i had these doubts.
Rohini

sharath said...

very interesting thought regarding the changing of hours and minutes so as to overcome the confusions but practically its hard to imagine such a scenario in the present world as we have got used to the old standards of confusions.

sharath said...

very interesting thought regarding the changing of hours and minutes so as to overcome the confusions but practically its hard to imagine such a scenario in the present world as we have got used to the old standards of confusions.