Is midnight today or tomorrow?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by dsdsds, Mar 11, 2009.

  1. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    I have no problem with 12:00:00.1 being PM. My problem is with 12:00:00.000000 being PM. Understand?

    I like billvon's example of the equator. It's the same kind of thing. Midday is the divider between morning and afternoon. It makes no sense to say, in effect, "midday, in the afternoon".
     
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  3. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    On the other hand, simply 12:00 is ambiguous, since it can refer to two distinct times.
    Whereas 12:00AM unambiguously refers to midnight.
     
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  5. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Ah. But "midday" tells you to which of the two points in question it refers, whereas 12:00 does not, since it could refer to either 12:00.
     
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  7. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    My point is that it's better to refer to "12 noon" or "12 midnight" rather than "12 pm" and "12 am".

    "12 pm" is a contradiction in terms, as I have explained, and "12 am" is at best half correct but and it also fails to specify which day you're talking about.

    I concede that common usage is 12 am = midnight (though the day remains ambiguous in that formulation), and 12 pm = midday. I generally understand what people mean when they refer to "12 pm". On the other hand, if they write "12 am" without indicating a day, then it's anybody's guess which day they're referring to.

    But the fact that I can make some sense of what they mean doesn't mean that what they wrote is in any sense correct. People regularly make lots of mistakes that are nevertheless conventionally understood. It's not my fault if most people don't know how to tell the time properly.

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  8. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Acknowledged. Of course, the other side of that coin is:

    Since everyone knows what 12AM is, it has become correct in a very de facto sense.

    Or: how correct can the "correct" version be, if it is useless in practice? (I'm talking about the "12:00" version, without the lengthy "midnight" part, that is not practical except in long prose usage.)
     
  9. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

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    It would be best to use 24 hour mode & be done with am & pm.
    There is no 0 in the day just as there is no 0 day or 0 year. Or 0 inch or 0 16th inch. I do not know of anything else people measure that they have this problem with. Measure or count 24 of anything & the final number is 24 & that number 24 is naturally the last part of that 24 whatever & of course, not part of the next 24.

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    Last edited: Jul 9, 2017
  10. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    The first inch is the 0 inch: 0.1, 0.2, etc.
     
  11. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

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    There is no 0 inch. 0 is nothing. The 1st inch is 1 inch.

    I guess I was mistaken about time measuring being the only measuring people have this problem with.

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  12. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    No. 0.1 inches is not 1 inch.
     
  13. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

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    I did not say .1 inch is 1 inch. It is part of the 1st inch or inch #1.

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  14. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Sure. Lots of things would be "best". If humans were amenable to automatic updates and hot fixes.

    But humans don't change just because it's best. It they did, America would be using the metric system right now.

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    There is a very real cost to making massive changes. Small changes to what people are already doing is far more likely to succeed.
     
  15. river Valued Senior Member

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    Nevertheless , the 24hr system is best .

    Europe uses this system .
     
  16. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    As an aside: I think it is very likely that there is greater cost involved in the US persisting with imperial measures while most of the rest of world uses metric.
     
  17. river Valued Senior Member

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    Agreed

    The conversion from imperial to metric must have a cost .
     
  18. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    The 1st inch is inch #0. It's right there in o.1, 0.2, etc.

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  19. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    As an aside to an aside: The metric system has not been very successful in Canada. I was discussing the metric system with a young fellow (22 years old). I asked him how tall he is and he hesitated before replying, "Six feet." We've had the metric system since his parents were in kindergarten, he's a physics student who uses the metric system at school every day and he STILL doesn't know how tall he is in metric. We buy coffee in a 907g (2-lb) can. Only government-mandated things like road signs leave out the Imperial measurement. So we have generations of Canadians who use the Imperial system voluntarily.
     
  20. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Yep. These kinds of things don't change in a single generation.
     
  21. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

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    How can you think the 1st is 0??? Do you think the 2nd is 1 & the 3rd is 2?

    0 is nothing. It cannot be an inch. Most people write .1. Some write 0.1 because they think it is clearer but the 0 is only a placeholder & a further sign that the number is a fraction.
    A foot is 12 inches long, starting with inch #1 & ending with inch #12. IF you call inch #1 by 0, you must call inch #12 by 11. The 1st 16th of an inch would then be 0 16ths & the last 16th of an inch would be 15 16ths.



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    Last edited: Jul 11, 2017
  22. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

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    I realize that but we have had a very long time that it could & should have been done & the sooner it is changed the less expensive the change will be or would have been.

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  23. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    I live in Australia, which has been metric for years. I grew up only ever being taught the metric system in any official sense. However, my parents grew up in the pre-metric era, so I guess I picked up some old measures from them.

    If somebody asks me how tall I am, I usually give my height in feet and inches, and that's still quite common in Australia. If you ask me how tall I am in centimetres (something that is quite common on medical forms you have to fill out and the like), then I struggle to remember and sometimes even have to convert. On the other hand, I have no real feeling for how long a mile is, whereas a kilometre is more of less instinctive. I know the conversion, and can make it if I have to, but there's seldom a need. I think in kilometres when it comes to driving or flying distances. All the road signs in Australia give distances in kilometres and speeds limits are in kilometres per hour.

    I have no real idea how much is in a pint of fluid, but I have a good idea of what a litre looks like. Milk comes in 1, 2 or 3 litre containers where I live. Petrol is sold in litres and the cost is in cents per litre. Actually, come to think of it, I do have some idea what a pint is, but only because some pubs serve beer in pint glasses. (And, on third thoughts, I vaguely remember there are different definitions of a "pint" - or is that wrong?)

    All our weather reports give temperatures only in Celcius degrees, never Farenheit. I still have to do a mental calculation when an American tells me it is 70 degrees, and I only really bothered to learn how to convert F to C quickly when I went to the US. I needed to know so I could make the temperatures there make some sense to me.

    I guess what I'd say about Australia is that for all serious stuff things are metric these days. If you buy a screw or a plank of wood, its size will be metric. But there are echos and cultural memories of the old measures that persist. People will still call a certain size of a plank of wood a "four by two", which is inches, even though it may not be quite that size and will have a determined metric measurement. Similar kinds of things exist in different spheres of life - like the pints in some pubs. But the old measures are much more "niche" than generally applicable.
     

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