Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar - Credit: Richard Conn Henry/Johns Hopkins University
Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar - Credit: Richard Conn Henry/Johns Hopkins University

Science, Uncategorized

New Year – New Calendar… But Johns Hopkins Scholars Say We Need A Permanent Edition

2 Jan , 2012 by

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It’s another new year and time to remember to write new dates again. While it might take a few weeks to remember to do it right first time, Johns Hopkins Scholars say our traditional calendar needs a major overhaul. By utilizing computer programs and mathematical formulas, Richard Conn Henry, an astrophysicist in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, and Steve H. Hanke, an applied economist in the Whiting School of Engineering, have devised a new calendar where each year is identical to the year before it… and the year after.

Dubbed the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar, there would be no problem remembering dates. For example, if your birthday was Thursday, May 10, it would remain Thursday, May 10 throughout eternity. Can you fathom holidays always being on the same day of the week? Or a weekend date always remaining the same? All the same… Always.

“Our plan offers a stable calendar that is absolutely identical from year to year and which allows the permanent, rational planning of annual activities, from school to work holidays,” says Henry, who is also director of the Maryland Space Grant Consortium. “Think about how much time and effort are expended each year in redesigning the calendar of every single organization in the world and it becomes obvious that our calendar would make life much simpler and would have noteworthy benefits.”

Of course, it would seem rational to have certain dated functions, such as work holidays, religious holidays and even birthdays fall on the same date each year. However, according to Hanke, an expert in international economics, the monetary benefits would be the real motivation behind such a change… ones that should motivate the consumer.

“Our calendar would simplify financial calculations and eliminate what we call the ‘rip off’ factor,” explains Hanke. “Determining how much interest accrues on mortgages, bonds, forward rate agreements, swaps and others, day counts are required. Our current calendar is full of anomalies that have led to the establishment of a wide range of conventions that attempt to simplify interest calculations. Our proposed permanent calendar has a predictable 91-day quarterly pattern of two months of 30 days and a third month of 31 days, which does away with the need for artificial day count conventions.”

But is the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar a true progression over various forms of permanent calendars that have been proposed before? “Attempts at reform have failed in the past because all of the major ones have involved breaking the seven-day cycle of the week, which is not acceptable to many people because it violates the Fourth Commandment about keeping the Sabbath Day,” Henry explains. “Our version never breaks that cycle.”

Sure, the current Gregorian calendar has been working for 430 years now. What’s the point in change? It, too, was an alteration to a calendar put forth in 46 BC by Julius Caesar to stay in sync with the changing seasons. The real problem is we humans just have to deal with a celestial calendar in which a true year is 365.2422 days long. The new calendar simply proposes we add an extra week every so often to make up for the fragmented days. But personally, I can’t see where this is any different than the concept we are already working under! If we’re adding an extra week every five or six years at the end of December, is that really any different than the few months that sport an extra day…. or leap year for that matter?

Yeah. Well, they don’t want to stop there, either. They are also in favor of doing away with world time zones by fully adopting GMT. “One time throughout the world, one date throughout the world,” they write, in a January 2012 Global Asia article about their proposals. “Business meetings, sports schedules and school calendars would be identical every year. Today’s cacophony of time zones, daylight savings times and calendar fluctuations, year after year, would be over. The economy – that’s all of us – would receive a permanent ‘harmonization’ dividend.”

Is it really harmony or just another way of putting us in neat, little boxes? Maybe we humans like our confusion. Maybe if it’s not broke, we don’t need to fix it. For those of us who practice astronomy, we already use both GMT and (in some circumstances) a Julian calendar as well. Do we really need to standardize everything? We’ve tried with money and we’ve tried with measurements. What’s next? We should all be born the same sex with exactly the same features so we can standardize the human population, too? Think of all the money that could be saved from the fashion industry alone! Then we’d need to have exactly the same tastes. That would make it ever so much easier to standardize food. No need to be wasting perfectly good dishes because one liked it and one didn’t. Maybe we all need the same sense of humor, that way we could just tell standard jokes. Perhaps we could all find exactly the same set of tones agreeable, so one song would do us all. Of course, it’s just my opinion, but…

Move over, Mr. Roboto.

Original Story Source: John Hopkins University Press Release. For further opinions and reading: Wired Science.

By    
Tammy was a professional astronomy author, President Emeritus of Warren Rupp Observatory and retired Astronomical League Executive Secretary. She’s received a vast number of astronomy achievement and observing awards, including the Great Lakes Astronomy Achievement Award, RG Wright Service Award and the first woman astronomer to achieve Comet Hunter's Gold Status. (Tammy passed away in early 2015... she will be missed)



30 Responses

  1. Brent Logan says:

    Ha! I can’t imagine this happening. After all, the U.S. hasn’t even figured out going metric is a good idea.

  2. Zoutsteen from Holland says:

    I notice my birthday would permanently fall on a Sunday, could it be altered to be on a Friday every year?

    • William Sparrow says:

      Sunday is better than Humpday, which is where my birthday would fall under this calendar proposal…. ; )

    • Justin Hartberger says:

      Actually, everyone whose birthday isn’t in January would technically have to recalculate when their birthday actually is since so many months have had their totals altered.

      The first of those who would have to change are anyone whose birthday is on January 31st…since this new calendar doesn’t have 31 days in January.

  3. IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE says:

    The International Fixed Calendar is a much better proposal.

  4. Joe Duffy says:

    i’d been thinking only yesterday about how the time should be the same regardless of location, and it’d be nicer with a more uniform year, seems i was slightly behind, but i’ll certainly unofficially adopt this calendar!

  5. Al Marani says:

    I can see it working if that “extra week” is offered as a kind of global holiday or something to that effect. Otherwise, the suggested benefits in financial and other institutions would be hard to realize. If it’s every 5-6 years, I say go for it!

  6. Lee Sherman says:

    I’d be content if they just eliminated daylight savings time.

    • Anonymous says:

      Same here. We need to ditch daylight savings.

      “Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of a blanket and have a longer blanket.” — Arizona India chief’s response to being told about daylight savings.

      I wouldn’t have an problem with altering the timezone slightly for business/personal convenience (though I prefer to use UTC 😉 but daylight savings as far as I can see is a solution to a problem that isn’t there.

    • Anonymous says:

      Same here. We need to ditch daylight savings.

      “Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of a blanket and have a longer blanket.” — Arizona India chief’s response to being told about daylight savings.

      I wouldn’t have an problem with altering the timezone slightly for business/personal convenience (though I prefer to use UTC 😉 but daylight savings as far as I can see is a solution to a problem that isn’t there.

  7. robinsondd says:

    If you already have a week of Jan 1st – 7th, how can you add another one every 5 or six years? It doesn’t make sense to me. Seems you would have to add an additional week of Dec 32 thru 39th!

  8. Harald Koch says:

    If I was born on Wednesday I’d hate this idea. It’s nice that sometimes my birthday falls on a weekend, as the days change each year!

  9. Brett Lamb says:

    A great deal of time and effort put forth to define the dividing line between one year and the next. But I don’t think the number of days in a year or the arrangement of those days is really what defines a year in the human consciousness. The time making calendars or determining new dates for events is not time wasted. It is time spent examining and reconsidering the way we will and have spent our lives. Robots create Calendars like this one, human being choose a much messier method; one filled with creativity and personal meaning. I don’t think people should let go of that anytime soon. http://coffeefueledphilosophy.blogspot.com/2012/01/year-passes.html

  10. Anonymous says:

    Our calendar has its quirks, but it seems that there would also be quirks associated with years that vary considerably in length. Currently no two years differ by more than a single day; if two years differed by a full week, that septuples discrepancies between years for matters such as leases, annual salaries, etc.

    Also, in comparing the economic benefits of different calendars, the cost of conversion must be taken into account. Every computer would have to be have its software updated or be out of sync with the new system. There is also the great deal of confusion that would result during the transition period, as people are not used to the new system, continue to use the old, etc.

    It could be done, I suppose. Major changes have been made in the past and the world proceeded without great problems. But why incur the cost if the current system is without major deficiency?

    • not true. all businesses run on a fiscal calendar that uses thirteen 28 day periods. I have one of these fiscal calendars on my iPhone. Every few years an extra 53rd week has to be inserted into the fiscal calendar to avoid it falling too far behind the standard calendar year. this proposal does the same thing.

      the movement of many holidays across the typical calendar year creates a lot of confusion in the fiscal cycle. Problems of financial planning, labor scheduling, etc.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks for the info. I had thought of a fiscal year in terms of calendar months (for example, I always get paid on the last workday of the month), but I see little of what goes on in the business world.

  11. So each year is the same as the year before that, except in 2015, 2020, 2026, 2032, 2037, 2043, 2048, 2054, 2060, 2065, etc. Every 5 _OR_ 6 years, yeah, that’s quite easy to remember… How much taxpayers money was spent devising this?

  12. Baksa Péter says:

    Oh but the solstice and equinox days would move every year.
    And I would favor a calendar keeping full moon at a fixed day of month.

  13. Carlos Pereira says:

    And those borning in that “extra week”? Ask those that born at 29 Feb. and see what they think!

  14. Anonymous says:

    This seems utterly rediculous. We should not update the calendar until we come up with something that actually works best with the natural rythms of earth and space, where solstices and equinox come on the same day each year, and where other repeating terrestrial and/or astronomical events come on the same day each year.

    To assume that the whole world would change from one very flawed calendar to another very flawed calendar is really sad.

    Also, I would assume that the decision to follow a 7-day sequence was only to help make it more viable to the public, instead of actually being the result of any *real* mathematical or scientific calculations.

    The idea of a more correct calendar is great. The processes used to develop this one seem to head in the wrong direction.

    • Anonymous says:

      We should not update the calendar until we come up with something that actually works best with the natural rythms of earth and space, where solstices and equinox come on the same day each year, and where other repeating terrestrial and/or astronomical events come on the same day each year.

      That can never be done, because a year is a quarter of a day* too long. A calendar with an integer number of days will always slowly shift out of sync with the motion of the Earth, and then be jolted back into position by the application of a leap year.

      *actually it’s slightly less than a quarter of a day, necessitating a sort of higher-level adjustment: every 100 years, a leap-year is omitted, but every 400 years, the omitted leap year is brought back. Then, an even higher-level adjustment is needed on top of that: every 8000 years, the calendar is once again out of sync by a day…

  15. Steve Rollins says:

    Great article up to the last paragraph – which is understandably only opinion – where Tammy makes the same tired, gargantuan leap of logic that is ridiculous when looked at rationally. Really, does standardizing a more efficient calendar really lead to big brother now too? Is it just another rung on the ladder to making us all same-sex automatons? Does putting a camera outside your shop to deter theft lead us all inevitably to “big brother” mandating cameras in our bathrooms?

    Seriously, making the leap from a standardized calendar proposal to all of us meekly submitting to becoming automatons eating the same food and telling the same jokes, goes far beyond the ridiculous. You might as well say that since yesterday was 5 degrees colder than today that at this rate the earth is going to be a living hell within the next couple weeks.

    I get, and agree mostly, that in many things we are increasingly going too far with averaging things out to appease the bell curve of human ignorance but I find it far worse that we so willingly abandon critical thinking to arguments based on hyperbole and what amounts to fairy tale fear.

    I apologize for being critical, as your articles are by and far very well written and thought out. I just caution that resorting to hyperbole to that degree might be a bit off-putting.

    Anyway, we’re all prone to such things and otherwise I really appreciate your work!

  16. Tommy P says:

    Leap week?! My granddaughter’s, 16, classmate, born on 2/28/98 is 4. The brains wish that curse on a week’s worth of people? ~~ I too vote to eliminate daylight savings time changes. If the railroad people could keep trains from crashing, ~~ I too would vote for one time on earth (no time zones). ~~ Oh yes, since time is arbitrary, why not clocks which display the exact time of day (i.e., sun always due south and at it’s zenith at noon.)

    • Joe Davis says:

      shouldn’t the date be 2/29/98 for the classmate to be 4? either way its not like they live 4 times longer! I too wish for DST to end and GMT to rule

  17. Anonymous says:

    I would only support a new calender if it had a 4-day work week with 3-day weekends.

    The current calender is flawed, but so is this new one. I actually prefer to have holidays and birthdays occur on different days each year.

    Like Tammy, I fear that too much standardization can be a bad thing. We could use this calender along side the current one to see how things would be different, but in reality, changing a calender isn’t going to be easy. When DST dates changed, it cause all kinds of problems with software (more than Y2K ever did).

    Speaking of Daylight Savings Time – I say get rid of it. It’s a hassle, and it’s not really helpful anymore.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I would only support a new calender if it had a 4-day work week with 3-day weekends.

    The current calender is flawed, but so is this new one. I actually prefer to have holidays and birthdays occur on different days each year.

    Like Tammy, I fear that too much standardization can be a bad thing. We could use this calender along side the current one to see how things would be different, but in reality, changing a calender isn’t going to be easy. When DST dates changed, it cause all kinds of problems with software (more than Y2K ever did).

    Speaking of Daylight Savings Time – I say get rid of it. It’s a hassle, and it’s not really helpful anymore.

  19. Eric Reeves says:

    Having every day of the month match a consistent day of the week would be monotonous. Isn’t it nice to have variety year to year? Also, the last paragraph is a total non-sequitur.

  20. 13Brady Duncan says:

    Umm…. Where did October 31st (my birthday) go? Do I have to celebrate in that awkward millisecond at midnight between the 30th and November 1st?

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  22. kkt says:

    This proposal really doesn’t solve much. Instead of a leap year day, we have a leap year week. Those years are different from the year before and the year after. Even if that’s a designated “party week” some people have to work — cops, hospitals, astronomers. Those people naturally expect to get paid. Some people would be born during that week and only get to celebrate their birthday every 5 or 6 years.

    Eliminating time zones and daylight savings time doesn’t really solve much either. People are still going to wake up in the morning and go to sleep about 16 hours later. Procedure now before calling a faraway city: Look up time zone on the web, figure out what time it is there and whether it’s a decent hour to call. Procedure under the proposed no-time-zones plan: Look up typical office hours on the web, figure out whether it’s a decent hour to call there. People who want to use Coordinated Universal Time already can.

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