1061: EST

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The month names are the same, except that the fourth month only has the name 'April' in even-numbered years, and is otherwise unnamed.
Title text: The month names are the same, except that the fourth month only has the name 'April' in even-numbered years, and is otherwise unnamed.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: The "non-prime minutes happen twice" needs explaining.
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

This comic is a reference to the paradox in complexity theory that if you attempt to simplify a system of problems by creating a new system of evaluation for the problems you have instead made the problem more complex than it was originally.

Randall advertises his idea for an "Universal Calendar for a Universal Planet". He combines calendar definitions with time zone definitions. The abbreviation EST is a joke on the American Eastern Standard Time.

  • "24 hours 4 minutes" makes the days longer attempting to compensate the fact there are now only 360 in a year. Four days are still missing in this calculation.
  • Running the clock 4 hours backwards after every full moon, giving 8 additional hours at each full moon, twelve times in a year. This fills the gap from before. This also makes the time between full moons close to 30 "days" (in real life it's 29.5 days).
  • The "non-prime numbers of the first" etc. etc. is just needlessly complex, to drive the parody home. There are 18 prime numbers between 0 and 60, and thus 42 non-primes; in a 60-minute hour, there are 42 "non-prime minutes". To make things just a little more simplified: after a solstice/equinox, still observing the running-the-clocks-backward rule after a full moon (above), add 42 minutes to the fifth hour after said full moon. This complex rule would need to be done a total of four times a year, adding 168 minutes.
  • The different zone for the United Kingdom is because 1 yard is equal to 0.9144 meters. A pun on using imperial units instead of the metric system. At the United States the metric system is the official one, but the imperial units are still widely used.
  • The one obvious reference is to Narnian time, a fictitious world of Narnia in CS Lewis's The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and its sequels. In Narnia, time passes much more quickly than in the real world. You could be in Narnia for several days and only a few minutes would have passed in the real world. However, synchronizing this effect would be impossible because it is not a consistent rate; it fluctuates wildly based on the whims of drama and magic.
  • The Gregorian calendar does not include the year "0", after "1" BC the next year is "1" AD. Randall's invention fixes this according to correct Mathematics... only to reintroduce the problem immediately by omitting the "epoch" year 1985 (see above).
  • The title text may be a reference to the ancient (Pre-Babylonian Exile) Jewish Calendar, which did not name the months, rather assigning them numbers from 1 to 12. The names used by Jews today are the names of the Babylonian months, derived from various Babylonian deities.


XKCD[sic] Presents
A Universal Calendar for a Universal Planet
EST is...
Simple * Clearly Defined * Unambiguous
Free of Historical Baggage * Compatible with Old Units
Precisely Synced with the Solar Cycle * Free of Leap Years
Intermittently Amenable to Date Math
Second: 1 S.I. Second
Minute: 60 seconds
Hour: 60 minutes
Day: 1444 minutes (24 hours 4 minutes)
Month: 30 Days
Year: 12 months
For 4 hours after every full moon, run clocks backward.
The non-prime-numbered minutes of the first full non-reversed hour after a solstice or equinox happen twice.
00:00:00 EST, January 1, 1970 = 00:00:00 GMT, January 1, 1970 (Julian calendar)
[Time Zones]
The two EST time zones are
EST and EST (United Kingdom). These are the same except that the UK second is 0.9144 standard seconds.
Daylight saving: Countries may enter DST, but no time may pass there.
Narnian Time: Synchronized.
Year Zero: EST does have a year 0. (However, there is no 1958.)

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"24 hours 4 minutes" because the period of rotation of the Earth is 24 hours MINUS four minutes.

EST = Eastern Standard Time (USA) or England Standard Time (UK); there's no easy way to disambiguate this since it is a common time zone for English speakers in the USA and UK.

"Run clocks backward" a possible reference to the leap second.

"0.9144" because 1 yard = 0.9144 meters

"triple 4 hours after every full moon" = add on an additional 12 hours every full moon, to make the time between full moons exactly 30 "days" (in real life it's 29.5 days). 21:44, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

Erm, just like to say, as a UK resident for all my life (five decades, adult and child), that I've never heard of "English Standard Time". GMT is Greenwich ('Gren-itch') Mean Time, which is for most purposes the same as UTC (which officially took over in the early 70s, but most lay-people still say 'GMT') and all the various other prime standards in use (give or take leap seconds, planetary rotation/orbitting adjustments, adherence to atomic clocks, etc) and BST (British Summer Time, i.e. GMT+1)has just taken over for this sun-tilted part of the year. A brief check of the usual reference sites reveals no sign of EST existing any time since any form of standardised "Railway Time" was originally instituted in the days of the Industrial Revolution, but I might have missed it.
Anyway, as such, the two ESTs is surely a constructed part of the joke not (as I read it) some fact from RL that needs explaining. Yes, there's EST (Eastern Standard Time) for the US (and versions for Australia and elsewhere?), as well as main Egyptian time-zone and European Summer Time (actually a over-term for the three varieties: Western, Central and Eastern). (The UK roughly matches up to Western European Time and Western European Summer Time accordingly, but that's by no means official except possibly by convention/shared heritage of definition.) But I think the joke with the two 'EST's is purely to do with something like the whole Yard/Metre(/Meter) thing. Although initially I imagined it might be something to do with UK/US Gallon differences, albeit that we now tend to have to use Litres. Or, if you prefer, 'Liters'. ;) 21:49, 1 April 2013 (UTC)

I seem to recall that Narnia time ran usually much faster but sometimes much slower than real-world time. 20:51, 10 March 2013 (UTC)

I always thought that Taiwan, Province of China missed a golden opportunity here to establish propaganda that they founded it. Instead they are known as a township in the US. 20:01, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Think of what Jack Bauer could have done with 4 more minutes! (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Not all possible attempts to make the calendar simpler would make it as complicated (or worse) than it is. For example, removing one day each from January and August to make February have 30 or 31 like the rest of the months would make the calendar (slightly) simpler and more logical going forward. 18:39, 7 September 2015 (UTC)

This might be a reference to the old TV show Babylon 5 here, but that's unlikely because the show is never mentioned anywhere else. 3:18, 11 September 2015 (UTC)

Perhaps it's just a coincidence, but it should be noted "1958" could also refer to the Discordian calendar, in which that is the year 3125 (5^5, 5 being the by far most significant number in a religion especially obsessed with numerology).-- 22:10, 7 October 2015 (UTC)

The historical Jewish calendar did have month names; four of them happen to come up in the Old Testament. Some do suspect that the names were only used rarely.
The modern Japanese calendar - and I think a few others - does have numbered months only; don't recall if any historical ones do, unfortunately. 09:53, 8 October 2015 (UTC)