Read The History of Time: A Very Short Introduction by Leofranc Holford-Strevens Online


Why do we measure time in the way that we do? Why is a week seven days long? At what point did minutes and seconds come into being? Why are some calendars lunar and some solar?The organization of time into hours, days, months, and years seems immutable and universal, but is actually far more artificial than most people realize. For example, the French Revolution resulted iWhy do we measure time in the way that we do? Why is a week seven days long? At what point did minutes and seconds come into being? Why are some calendars lunar and some solar?The organization of time into hours, days, months, and years seems immutable and universal, but is actually far more artificial than most people realize. For example, the French Revolution resulted in a restructuring of the French calendar, and the Soviet Union experimented with five and then six-day weeks.Leofranc Holford-Strevens brings us this fascinating study of time using a range of examples from Ancient Rome and Julius Caesar's imposition of the Leap Year to the 1920's project for a fixed Easter. Those interested in time, history, and the development of the calendar will enjoy this absorbing exploration of an aspect of our lives that we all take for granted....

Title : The History of Time: A Very Short Introduction
Author :
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ISBN : 9780192804990
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 144 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The History of Time: A Very Short Introduction Reviews

  • Ahmad Sharabiani
    2019-04-29 20:37

    The History of Time: A Very Short Introduction, Leofranc Holford-StrevensWhy do we measure time in the way that we do? Why is a week seven days long? At what point did minutes and seconds come into being? Why are some calendars lunar and some solar?تاریخ نخستین خوانش: دوازدهم ماه مارس سال 2015 میلادیعنوان: تاریخچه زمان؛ نویسنده: لئوفرانس هالفورد-استریونس (استرونز)؛ مترجم: شادی حامدی آزاد؛ تهران، بصیرت، 1393، در 210 ص؛ شابک: 9786005492613؛ واژه نامه، موضوع: گاهنامه -- تاریخ قرن 21 معنوان: تاریخ زمان یک معرفی کوتاه ؛ نویسنده: لئوفرانس هالفورد-استریونس (استرونز)؛ مترجم: مریم عابدینی؛ تهران، سرای دانش، 1392، در 264 ص؛ مصور؛ شابک: 9786001371349؛ مصور، موضوع: گاهنامه -- تاریخ -- علوم، قرن 21 ما. شربیانی

  • Bettie☯
    2019-05-13 23:49

    Description: Why do we measure time in the way that we do? Why is a week seven days long? At what point did minutes and seconds come into being? Why are some calendars lunar and some solar? The organisation of time into hours, days, months and years seems immutable and universal, but is actually far more artificial than most people realise. The French Revolution resulted in a restructuring of the French calendar, and the Soviet Union experimented with five and then six-day weeks. Leofranc Holford-Strevens explores these questions using a range of fascinating examples from Ancient Rome and Julius Caesar's imposition of the Leap Year, to the 1920s' project for a fixed Easter. North Korea celebrates new time zone, 'Pyongyang Time' Inneresting, however somewhat dry.3* Ancient Egypt3* Paul4* Witchcraft3* The Book of Mormon4* Druids4* Forensic Psychology3* Forensic Science3* Socrates 3* The History of Time

  • Ευθυμία Δεσποτάκη
    2019-05-03 00:33

    Did not finish – σελίδα 97 από 169.Βαρετό και μπερδεμένο. Ο συγγραφέας μού θύμισε ένα σωρό καθηγητές μου στο Πανεπιστήμιο: προσπαθούν να διδάξουν, πεπεισμένοι ότι αυτά που λένε τα καταλαβαίνουν οι άλλοι, διότι, αφού τα καταλαβαίνω εγώ πώς μπορεί να μην τα καταλαβαίνεις εσύ.

  • Johan
    2019-05-20 19:31

    Actually the book should be called "The History of Calendars" because it basically shows the evolution of different date mechanisms, and how they changed over the centuries in the light through politics and religion.

  • Will Boncher
    2019-04-26 19:56

    It was informative, but not very fun, which is a lot different from the other Very Short Introduction that I read (Astronomy).

  • John Jr.
    2019-05-01 20:54

    How do I tell you about today? As I write, the day is Saturday; the date is April 26, 2014, in the season called spring; the time at the moment is 11:35 AM. This way of seeing my place in time has been ingrained in me since my earliest days and seems indisputable. But in fact everything that you or I think is true about the time can be questioned or put in other terms. This delightful, often dizzying little book of 144 pages (including index) will make that abundantly clear.The time I gave, for instance, was standardized time, the result of internationally recognized time zones as well as country-by-country practices regarding Daylight Saving Time, often called Summer Hours outside the United States. If I were to judge solely by the position of the sun, the time would've been about 10:39 AM. (At my location, it's about four minutes later than at the center of my time zone.) It's not hard to see the difficulty of trying to observe exact solar time for every location; if I proposed to call a friend in Boston at noon, we'd have to arrange whether I meant noon where I am or where he is—there's a difference of about 12 minutes, if I've reckoned right. Time zones eliminate that problem. Daylight Saving Time brings in a new one. As I learned one summer on a car trip, Arizona doesn't recognize it, as is true in Hawaii and some other regions. Holford-Strevens's book devotes little space to this aspect, but it's worth noting because time of day often carries more immediate importance to us than does any other element of time.As for the season of spring, that's one of four that Western culture inherited from the ancient Romans; it's not spring on the other side of the equator from me. India observes six seasons, and different parts of the country reckon them differently. My view of New York City as having non-coat weather and coat weather resembles the practice among Germanic peoples, who recognized only the two seasons of summer and winter, whereas ancient Egypt had summer, winter, and flood.What I think of as today's date comes from the calendar I use, which derives from the practice of Republican Rome as modified by Julius Caesar, by Pope Gregory XIII and other elements of the Christian church, and to some extent by astronomical practice and international agreements. It hasn't always been the case that days of the month are numbered sequentially. The Romans had a name for three days of the month—the Kalends (the first day), the Ides (determined by full moon, roughly the middle of the month), and the Nones (eight days before the Ides). All the other days were "named in relation to the next marker-day," as Holford-Strevens explains it. The second day of the month, then, would be called the sixth day before the Nones in 31-day months but the fourth before them in all other months. I'm glad we got rid of that.Months have had and do still have other names, with other beginnings and other lengths. The same is true of years. These things depend on the calendar. Much of the book is devoted to surveying the differences, and I won't try to summarize them. It's worth noting that even the transitions between an existing system and a newer one could itself cause peculiarities. Consider this: in England the year 1751 began on March 25 (under a tradition by which years began in the spring), but it ended, in accordance with a reform, on December 31. So that year had only 282 days.There have been countless other calendars, and at least a good handful are still in use. The book discusses the Jewish, Muslim, Greek, Gaulish, Hindu, Iranian, and Chinese calendars, along with the Mesoamerican calendar, which popular culture recently took to calling the Mayan calendar—you know, the one that supposedly predicted the end of the world on December 21, 2012. Also still in use are different choices of era—that is, the point in time from which years are counted. The Christian era, called the common era by some academics, is the one that calls this year 2014; it's good to learn—or to be reminded if you already know— that the Islamic world differs, among other ways, in observing its own era, reckoned from the beginning of the Hegira, on what's called in Christian terms July 16, 622.Holford-Strevens devotes an entire chapter, out of only seven in the book, to the challenges of setting a date for Easter. One of his reasons for delving into it is that "the history of its calculation illustrates many complexities of time-reckoning." Boy, does it. The author begins by observing that Easter was originally connected with the Jewish Passover. According to the Gospel of St. John, Jesus was crucified on the Jewish date 14 Nisan, which was Passover in Biblical times (but not now). Early Christians chose to commemorate the crucifixion, which associated the death of Jesus with the Jewish sacrifice of the Paschal lamb on Passover. Later, however, it became the custom among Christians to celebrate the resurrection instead of the crucifixion. (How and when this observance came to be called Easter, a name borrowed from a Germanic festival, isn't discussed.) By the 3rd century, most Western churches had agreed that Easter should fall on the Sunday after the full moon of the year's first lunar month (with the year beginning in spring) and that this should be calculated without regard to Jewish practice. Eastern churches went another way, which sounds identical but wasn't. The book doesn't make clear how the two methods differed, but the modern consequence, which Holford-Strevens assumes we know, is that Orthodox Easter falls on a different date.That's the start of the story. The main issue was to construct cyclical tables that would indicate the date of Easter ahead of time. Describing them occupies much of the chapter, and the work itself spread across centuries. Holford-Strevens goes into the details, but I won't; it's easier to relate some of the problems. One early table was such a mess that in some years it gave two Easters and in others none. Two competing methods clashed for a while in Northumbria, where a king raised in the practice of the British Isles married a princess who had been brought up in the Roman method of finding Easter; according to the Venerable Bede (in Holford-Strevens's words), "sometimes the King would be celebrating Easter while the Queen was still observing Palm Sunday." The Gregorian reforms of 1582 improved matters a lot, but some difficulties remained.Deep, sometimes recondite knowledge sits alongside historical curiosities and info-bits in this book; some of what's here is a mix of both. Some examples: The French Revolution instituted a new calendar, which abolished traditional weeks—these were apparently regarded as Christian—and replaced them with a monthly cycle of three 10-day décades; it also imposed new names for the months and reset the entire calendar from September 22, 1792. (Some readers will have encountered a Republican-calendar date elsewhere. For instance, the title of one of Karl Marx's books, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, refers to 18 Brumaire, Year VIII. It translates to November 9, 1799, the day of Napoleon Bonaparte's coup.) The Soviets also tried to abolish traditional weeks, beginning with a new calendar in 1929. This is a case where the weakest triumphed over the strong; as Holford-Strevens tells it, the peasantry sabotaged the reform well enough that in 1940 Stalin gave in and restored the seven-day week. Maybe the most charming note in the whole book is this: In Christ Church, Oxford, which otherwise observes standard time—that is, Greenwich time—you're not counted tardy unless you're late by local solar time, which gives you five minutes' leeway.The book uses many specialized terms, such as embolism, epact, feria, intercalation, and lune. These are all explained when introduced (as I recall) and appear in a glossary in the back, but it can be hard to keep them straight. The author's approach to making his text concise—remember that this is intended to be a "very short introduction"—often results in chunky summaries where a longer explanation would've been more clear. On the other hand, the story progresses smoothly and sensibly, from relatively simply matters of day and time all the way to the issue of eras.

  • Thaer
    2019-04-24 03:41

    بعد قراءة هذا الكتاب سوف تنتبه ولفترة من الوقت الى التاريخ الذي تدونه فعام 2017 هو مبني على التقويم الغريفوري المستخدم عالمياالا ان هذا التقويم ليس الوحيد الموجود في العالم اليوم ولا حتى الوحيد الذي وجد في الماضيفرقم السنة ومن اي يوم تبدا و عدد الشهور ضمن السنة و عدد الايام ضمن الشهر وحتى في اي ساعة يبدا اليوم والى كم قسم يقسم اليوم كان مختلفا جدا ضمن ثقافات العالم وفي اليونان كانت لكل مدينة نظام تقويم مختلفان الاسباب الدينية والسياسية لعبت دورا كبيرا في تحديد وتشكيل انظمة التقويم حول العالم فعيد الفصح وميلاد السيد المسيح وهجرة النبي محمد كلها كانت عوامل مهمة في وضع وتتغيير انظمة التقاويمبشكل اساسي كان هناك تقاويم شمسية تعتمد على السنة الشمسية او دورة للارض حول المشس وهناك التقاويم القمرية التي تعتمد على تكرارات لدوران القمر حول الارض والسنة القمرية اقصر من السنة الشمسية كما هو معروفمن الامور الطريفة انه في التقويم الغريفوري الحالي لاتوجد السنة 0 فالسنة 1 قبل الميلاد تتبعها 1 بعد الميلادمن الامور الهامة فعلا هو ان البابليين و المصريين القدماء كانو متقدمين في علم الفلك ولعله من المهم لنا نحن كسوريين ان نعرف لماذا اسماء الاشهر لدينا مختلفة عن اسمائها العالمية او حتى في بقية الدول العربية والسبب هو اننا نستخدم الاسماء البابلية للاشهرالكتاب الحقيقة يحتاج لجهد لمتابعة الكمية الضخمة من المعلومات والحسابات وانظمة التقويم المطروحة

  • Relstuart
    2019-05-04 02:53

    A history of how we measure time and the different systems that mankind has created to tell us where we are in time. Dense and a bit dry but short.

  • Jeremy
    2019-05-06 19:26

    Fascinating but somewhat technical introduction to a complex subject: how we measure time. Most of the book is concerned with the historical development of calendars, including an entire chapter on Easter as a case study of the complexities of calendrical calculations.

  • Erika
    2019-05-11 03:32

    This introduction is packed with information and, more especifically, math, numbers, and calculations. In the past, there used to be tons of different calendars, each created by a different culture, such is its artificiality. Today, for practical reasons, most people follow the Gregorian calendar.

  • Joseph Sverker
    2019-05-17 23:47

    It wasn't exactly what I expected. I simply picked this book up because I thought it would be about time from a the perspective of physics, but it was about the history of how time has been recorded. There are a lot of eras and terms to keep track off. But it is an interesting knowledge to have, how complicated it is to get the date correct.

  • Ender
    2019-04-26 00:53

    How make your subject boring: A Very Short Introduction

  • Maria Freeman
    2019-05-05 02:34

    This book was very hard for me to follow due to lack of definitions and assumptions about the reader's christian background/knowledge.

  • Linda
    2019-05-15 00:45

    rather dry but broadly researched

  • Henrique Maia
    2019-04-26 19:33

    I started reading this book thinking this was a historical exploration of the philosophical conceptions of time. Maybe I’m not the only one to fall for this, for, as the author himself acknowledges in the introduction, the title may be a bit of a misnomer. Even so, I was pleasantly surprised by the the content of this work. For this is a history of the ways people kept track of time. In this sense, yes, this is a history of time, but time in a weaker sense. So what is this book actually about? This is an exploration of how the different calendars were divised, its lengths, its relations and justifications within a particular culture, and how some of these notions, ideas, calculations and, even, mistakes, are still influencing our own ways of keeping track of time. So, what do I keep from this? Well, to be honest, just the loose impression that most peoples (if not all) in their need to keep track of time, end up being trapped within the cultural necessity of trying to make the universe conform to the calendar. I know, sounds weird. But we are still doing it. For we rise when the clock ticks, and not when the Sun rises. This, although not explicitly stated in the book, it’s something that permeates the whole message; at least when you start considering that all calendars are filled with incongruencies shaped by cultures offsetting the counting with the universal measure of Nature.Maybe you’ll like to know why your days are called the way they are. Maybe you just like to know some random facts about calendars, Easter days, and why do we call it Summer. Maybe you’re just glad do know how cutely random these defining features of our civilization truly are. In any case, you’ll find something of interest worth of your time.

  • Mike
    2019-05-01 02:56

    This fascinating little volume has to do with the day, the week, the month, and the year, and the perennial problem of measuring and labeling them properly. THE central problem is that the year is not evenly divisible into a whole number of days, and certainly not divisible into a whole number of months. Various cultures and nations have dealt with this in a wide variety of ways by adding leap days, leap weeks, and even leap months, in a dizzying variety of weirdly repeating cycles. For example, an early Iranian calendar had 12 30-day months with 5 additional days and various additional days as necessary. The maddening irregularity of the day/year cycle and the surprising diversity of the solutions which have been tried are very interesting. There is a whole chapter just on the calculations for Easter, which drove Christians crazy for centuries, and was the basis for the black art of computus, devoted entirely to trying to balance the astronomical and calendrical requirements of the spring festival. I had read before that early church fathers had sent out letters each year to let their churches know when Easter would be that year - now I understand the depth of that undertaking. Also interesting is the astrological basis for our weekday names, and the story of the battle between the 8-day Roman market cycle with what became the 7-day week, and the reforms that in the 20th century almost created several days in our year that would be "outside" the days of the week. There is too much jargon at times to fully follow the narrative of the systems and their reforms.

  • Rob
    2019-04-29 02:52

    The human establishment of time - common or otherwise - and a way of breaking down our lives into understandable units is quite a field, involving as it does the observation of two relationships: our revolving around the sun and the moon's revolving around the Earth. The fact they are not exact means we have to adopt a form of intercalation (i.e. adding a day every 4 years), but that's just the beginning. Different societies have opted for different ways of dealing with this situation and its application to a week, and in history often various systems have coexisted. This book is a fairly learned look at the basic issues involved in this field of calculations, detailed enough to show that it is actually quite a complex field, which we often take for granted, but not wholly forbidding.Well, actually the approach is rather dry and occasionally obtuse. Certain definitions are completely opaque, leading the reader to feel no more illuminated after finishing the sentence. A good editor could have asked for more clarity. The section on Easter is at times impenetrable and there is a serious lack of the kind of light touch that is essential in this type of endeavour - the cognoscenti, after all, have already graduated to other levels of detail - in which the reader is interested but unlikely to be schooled in these subjects.Is it worth reading? There is plenty of information in here and it provides an overview of the issues involved. Could it be improved? I think so.

  • Tony
    2019-05-11 23:42

    A SHORT HISTORY OF TIME. (2005). Leofranc Holford-Strevens. ***.This book was originally published under the title: “The History of Time: A Very Short Introduction.” This edition was issued the same year by The Folio Society under this new title. I can honestly say that I wish I understood the subject matter better than I did. It all seems rather simple when you first think of it, but becomes exceedingly complex as one digs deeper. Most people don’t think of it at all. We all go along making our appointments, learning our key dates in history, and celebrating anniversaries. Little do we realize the enormous amount of conflict and research that went on developing methods of keeping track of such simple (to us) things as months, days, and years. The author examines the various historical approaches to the measurement and tracking of time and both the religions and science that drove them. The ways are still not uniform throughout the world today. Why do we have seven days in our week? What is a season? How did we end up with twelve months. How did we arrive at the demarcation line between B.C. and A.D.? Exploring these questions on a world-wide basis in this relatively short book really resents a challenge to the reader’s understanding. Even knowing this, however, the book is still a worthwhile read.

  • Susana
    2019-04-25 02:31

    É a primeira vez que escrevo sobre um livro antes de acabar de lê-lo e bem podia ser por melhores razões... A verdade é que estou a arrastar-me pelo capítulo sobre a Páscoa. Como já li numa crítica na Amazon, o título deveria ser "Uma Pequena História dos Calendários", pois trata-se mais de todas as confusões na definição dum calendário do que outra coisa qualquer. Por outro lado, este senhor, um catedrático de Oxford, não conseguiu fazer um livro para toda a gente, como o texto de apresentação sugere. O primeiro capítulo, sobre o Dia, parecia promissor, mas depois tudo se torna muito confuso, além de incluir muitas referências que, na verdade, só interessarão aos ingleses...Tenciono acabar de ler este livro, pois pelo meio encontram-se algumas informações interessantes, mas está a custar-me um bocado...Já acabei, e mantenho o que já tinha escrito, bem como a classificação que dei. Só mesmo para curiosos sobre as múltiplas tentativas de diferentes povos e religiões para organizar o tempo.

  • Rosy
    2019-05-18 03:46

    This little book is lovely to hold and to look at (a Folio freebie), but sadly, it's a bit of a yawner. It offers a lot of potentially interesting information on many methods of counting time, but I think it's too compact and the information is all you get -- not to mention the undeniably dry style.I was so looking forward to early people observing the movement of the sun and the changing length of days; to courtiers competing in the style and accuracy of timepieces; to astronomers at their telescopes. This is not that book.

  • Ian
    2019-05-06 19:28

    This book takes an interesting subject and makes it dull. Due to its short length it reads like one fact after another and jumps around different cultures and countries every few paragraphs. For me this made it difficult to absorb, a problem compounded by the use of the esoteric jargon found on nearly every page. Ok as a kind of reference though. I would prefer a book that spends more time setting an historical perspective and having some kind of connecting narrative. This kind of book would of course be many times longer but would I think be a much more entertaining and satisfying read.

  • Daphne
    2019-04-27 19:39

    I gave this one a chance. Two chances actually. Listened to it twice through over the past week. It wasn't the barration. That part was actually done quite well imo. The problem with this particular VSI is that it took a niche, but incredibly interesting topic of human history and made it immensely boring and jaggedly told. My mind just refused to stop wondering. There was no real narrative. Just a vomiting out of facts.

  • Simon Davenport
    2019-05-10 03:30

    Besides being the most compact book (both in size and content) I think I've ever read, this is also a fascinating description of how we came to have something almost completely overlooked (in importance and necessity): the calendar. Politics, religion, lunar cycles, tropical phases, the stars, the gods and days of ill omen... this little guy has it all. Be prepared though, there is math. And Latin.

  • Asad
    2019-04-20 21:28

    For a book aimed at the general public, this book is written in a shockingly dry and boring style, it feels like a condensed textbook rather than a light introductory text. Two stars rather than one just because I found the subject matter interesting, despite the author's seeming attempt to convince his readers otherwise.

  • Mirkalla Karnstein
    2019-05-01 01:34

    This Very Short Introduction is NOT a fun, interesting philosophical analysis of our understating of Time. It is a history of calendars and dates, etc told in a VERY dry manner. I repeat it is VERY DRY.

  • Daniel Wright
    2019-04-24 22:35

    Fascinating, polymathic, wide-ranging, vital. Do not attempt to make sense of the world without knowing the contents of this book.

  • Arnoud Visser
    2019-04-29 02:29

    The author did its best to structure the matter, but mankind needed quite a while before make a decision how to measure time.

  • Georges
    2019-05-12 21:48

    An amazing book on how calendars and time keeping was developed.

  • Y
    2019-05-01 21:53

    Too many numbers.

  • Kathleen O'Neal
    2019-05-07 19:29

    While this book could have been good given its subject matter, the author mostly sees fit only to take the reader through a robotic history of changes to the calendar.