The year 2022 is drawing to a close: it’s time to flip the calendars and raise a toast to the successes of 2023. This collection of stories will introduce you to competing conceptions of time, teach you how to build a clock with incense, and help you to understand the mysteries of the Gregorian calendar (finally).
A Tale of Two Times: Edo Japan Encounters the European Clock
September 22, 2022
In country that followed a time-keeping system with variable hours, the fixed-hour clock of the Europeans had only symbolic value.
Why New Years Falls on January 1st
January 1, 2016
Why do we celebrate the beginning of the New Year on the first of January? Julius Caesar, mostly.
What Is Chronobiology?
May 13, 2020
Does it explain why we’re having so much trouble sleeping?
What Time is it When You Pass Through A Wrinkle in Time?
July 12, 2017
Do we need two distinct conceptions of time, chronos (clock time) vs. kairos (real time), to understand Madeleine L’Engle’s classic novel?
The Doomsday Clock: Menacing Metaphor of the Nuclear Age
February 16, 2017
Pessimism is on the rise. Mercurial politicians, rising nationalism and isolationism, international bluster, a changing climate, mass protests, ...
The San Zeno Astrolabe Tracked Time by the Stars
March 2, 2018
The astrolabe was a revolutionary tool for calculating celestial positions and local time. The device's design dates back to Islamic antiquity.
Keeping Time with Incense Clocks
August 25, 2022
As chronicled by Chinese poet Yu Jianwu, the use of fire and smoke for time measurement dates back to at least the sixth century CE.
The Meaning of Time in The Hour Glass
October 13, 2022
Writings from a women's prison in the 1930s grapple with philosophical questions on time and life. “The mere lapse of years is not life.”
Never Mind That Extra Second, What Happened to Those 11 Days?
July 2, 2015
The 1752 British transition from Julian to Gregorian calendar added 11 days to people's lives.
Radiocarbon Dating at 75
February 26, 2015
Carbon-14, or radiocarbon, was discovered 75 years ago by Martin Kamen and Sam Rubin at the UC-Berkely Radiation Lab
How Does the Jewish Calendar Work?
September 19, 2022
The complicated system that determines the High Holy Days is a relatively new creation, dating to around 350 CE.
Beware the Ides of March. (But Why?)
March 15, 2022
Everybody remembers that the Ides of March was the day Julius Caesar was assassinated. But what does it mean, and why that day?
How the Maya Kept Time
January 2, 2022
Many scholars contrast linear and cyclical time and note that cycles were an important part of Maya concepts of temporal reality.
Why the French Revolution’s “Rational” Calendar Wasn’t
May 23, 2018
What ever happened to "the most radical attempt in modern history to challenge the Western standard temporal reference framework?"
How America Got its Time Zones
September 18, 2016
Boston is considering joining the Atlantic time zone. How did Americans decide on time zones anyway?
Queer Time: The Alternative to “Adulting”
January 10, 2018
What constitutes adulthood has never been self-evident or value-neutral. Queer lives follow their own temporal logic.