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A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dodeka Pi Day Coming Up in the Spiral Arm!

For those who missed Pi Day on 3/14 be aware that pi in duodecimal notation is

3.184809493#918664573X6211##151551X05729290X7809X492..
(where X is 10 and # is 11 compressed to single digits)

Since the Confederation of Central Worlds and the Old Planets in the United League of the Periphery use dodeka time, that is: base 12, it is only fair to give them a shot.  Especially since the clock face has 12 hours and the year has 12 months.  So celebrate on March 18th. 

Basically this: Most physical, empirical stuff more easily comes in 12's.  A dozen can be split in half, thirds, quarters, or sixths.  A dozen is easier to arrange in a carton (6x2, 3x4) than is a ten.  Two dozen is 24, a case.  A dozen dozen is a gross, and a dozen gross is a great-gross.  A mile is just over three dozen gross feet.  Und so weiter. 

Thus, there has always been a tension between useful measures (inches, ounces, feet, yards, etc.) tied to the human body and easily calculable measures (multiples of 10).  Two solutions were possible: change the measures to multiples of ten; or.... change the arithmetic to base 12. 

It is not clear how the bulk of the Periphery (High Tara, Ramage, Valency, Foreganger, Hawthorn Rose, New Eireann, Jehovah, et al.) wound up with a metric time system of a normal human heartbeat building up in multiples of ten, while the Old Planets (Old 'Saken, Die Bold, Friesing's World, Bandonope, Kauntusulphalughy, Abyalon, Megranome, et al.) retained the old Commonwealth system of a beat building up in multiples of 12.  Since time was no longer tied to the rotation of one particular planet or the cycle of its moon or its revolution round its sun (not to speak of the number of planets visible by eye - 7) there was no need for either metric time or dodeka time to match that of Earth.  However, by a curious coincidence, one dodeka day (or "doo-dah" day) is precisely equal to a Terran day, while a metric day (1 kilominute) is just tiny bit shorter (0.96). 

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