Counting the Time (A Whimsical Thought Experiment)

Our economic and political institutions press us to take the short view.  So does our culture: our calendars go out only one year.  Would our psychology of time change if we adopted another measure?

As a thought experiment, imagine changing the basic unit from a year to millenium, which we could abbreviate as  an M (pronounced “em”).  Then we’d have the following system of units:

1 kiloM is a million years.

1 M is a thousand years.

1 deci-M is a century.

1 centi-M is a decade.

1 milli-M is a year.

1 micro-M is about 7 hours.

2100 is less than .09 M from now.  It’ll be here before you know it!

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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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