A Calendar that Never Changes and the World on the Same Time?

January 02, 2012; 9:30 AM
Clock and people photo courtesy of Photos.com

Steve H. Hanke, a Professor of Applied Economics at John Hopkins University, and Richard Conn Henry, a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at John Hopkins University, have developed a permanent annual calendar and propose that the world adopt Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) as the only measurement of time.

Henry worked on a calendar that would not change from year to year. In 2007, he showed his calendar to Hanke. He wanted Hanke's insights about what economic benefits the calendar could have.

Henry and Hanke had several meeting with their colleagues and some graduate students. After some time, they were able to finalize their plan for the permanent calendar.

With the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar in place, important dates fall on the same day every year. An example is Independence Day in the U.S. Independence day has always been celebrated on July 4. With the new calendar, July 4 would always be on a Wednesday.

The Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar consists of two months of 30 days followed by one month of 31 days. The result is every quarter of the year contains 91 days. The only change that would need to be made to the calendar is the addition of a week every five or six years. This would keep the months in line with the seasons. This extra week would be added at the end of December.

"Think of it as an adult spring break," said Hanke.

The Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar photo is courtesy of Steve H. Hanke and Richard Conn Henry.

One benefit of adopting the permanent calendar would be the simplification of calculating interest. In the article by Hanke and Henry, they use the example of discrepancies in the calculations used when figuring interest on U.S. government bonds, which use the actual number of days elapsed and the actual number of days between interest payments and the method used by U.S. corporates, municipals and agency bonds. The corporates, municipals and agency bonds are calculated on a 30/360-day count convention.

The discrepancy happens when interest is figured for a month that does not contain 30 days. An example is from Feb. 28 (non-leap year) until March 1. The government bond would calculate the interest for only one day. The other bonds would accrue interest for three days. Uniform months would eliminate this difference.

Other benefits can be found in negotiating labor contracts, scheduling for delivery companies and even the refilling of medications.

The adoption of UTC time would mean that everyone in the world would set their clocks to the exact same time.

UTC world map courtesy of WorldTimeZone.

While your watch would read a different time, Hanke stressed the point that your daily routine would remain the same.

"Farmers would still get up at sunrise and go about their daily work and stop at sunset," Hanke said. The difference made by using a universal time would mean that the farmer's watch may read 2 p.m. when it usually reads 5 a.m. when he got up.

Hanke said, "There would be very little transition relative to what you do in your life in relation to the sun."

The use of UTC time would eliminate the need for daylight savings time and time zones throughout the world.

It would simplify business conference calls. No matter what country the participants are in, the call would take place at an agreed time and everyone would know exactly when to join the call.

Today, UTC time is already in use in the airline industry. With all of the airlines using the exact same measure of time, the coordination of flights is simplified and collisions can be avoided.

Since the current time zones are already based on UTC, it would be very easy to eliminate time zones and just follow UTC time worldwide.

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