Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/592

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

almost ideal, and agrees, in its main features, with the proposals that have been made by various scientists in Europe for several years past, commencing perhaps with M. Flammarion and referred to later as the "Grosclaude Project," with headquarters at Geneva. It seems to have been considered favorably also by some of the Esperanto congresses.

Such simple schemes embody the only logical method of handling the subject, as the primal conditions of any calendar reform that we may hope to succeed in adopting throughout the civilized world are, first, simplicity, and, second, the least possible change from our present system. It probably will be generally conceded that if we make a change we had better retain the present division of the year into four seasons, into twelve months, and into weeks of seven days each. Of these the natural and unalterable units are the year and day. The difficulty throughout the ages has been to make one of these commensurate with the other when nature has kindly made their ratio about 365.2422.

After completing these four seasons, by whichever of the exact arrangement of months that may be considered best, we have, in any of the cases, 364 days. The remaining non-week day in common years simply fills a little gap and may be called by any appropriate name. It doubtless should be a holiday, but preferably belonging to the old year. In leap year the extra day should be put in the middle of the year, thus making each half-year alike, it being considered the final day of the first half and being a holiday. It perhaps might be called "leap day" or, preferably, something more euphonious.

A primal advantage of this general scheme is that the beginning of each year and any certain day of any year, counting numerically from the beginning, always happens the same day of the week and, furthermore, that each season always begins and ends with the same day of the week, because the 91 days are divisible by 7.

In any of these good schemes, where we keep years almost the same length, varying by only one day in leap year, we meet with the academic objection that the weeks do not run forever in an unbroken line of seven days each. This, of course, would make no trouble in social or commercial life, but it might be contrary to the religious scruples of some people as occasionally giving them an 8-day interval between two sabbaths, instead of always seven days. This could be gotten over, however, if necessary, by calling the additional day a sabbath and thus having two together once a year, and in leap year twice a year. A better plan would perhaps be to let the extra day of the year be Christmas, thus allowing only the holiest of all days to crowd certain two sabbaths a little apart. To those people who believe in the great importance of an exact sequence of 7-day weeks, which they suppose to have been maintained since the christian era, and which must always be maintained, it may be suggested that if they ever are traveling