GEN-MEDIEVAL-L ArchivesArchiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 1999-12 > 0946572295
From: "Gerald G. Fuller" <>
Subject: Re: millennium
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 1999 10:44:55 -0600
----- Original Message -----
From: Rafal Prinke <>
Sent: 30 December, 1999 9:45 AM
Subject: Re: millennium
> "Gerald G. Fuller" <> wrote:
> >Since so many people think that the end of 1999, should mark a new
> >millennium, the simplest thing to do (as opposed to the simples thing to
> >say) would be to count the "hundreds" Thus instead of the 20th century
> >extending from 1901 through 2,000, as was formerly defined, simply talk
> >about the 19 hundreds, which clearly extend from 1900 through 1999.
> Counting this way, the "zero hundred" is 99 years :-)
Yes,well, not exactly. If we go back to the beginning of the "natural
numbers" we run out of numbers of course, but if we then take instead the
set of non-negative integers, we pick up the "zero" and each of these
numbers is simply a point on the number line, so the zero adds no time. The
first hundred years actually started at the point "0", regardless of whether
that number had entered into the mind of man at that time.
But this entire line of discussion is nor frustrating than rewarding, since
it makes no difference at all.
> The whole controversy is obviously a matter of convention. The Gregorian
> calendar makes the year 2000 the last year of the millennium.
> the calendar used by astronomers is the same but has the year 0 which
> is the same as 1 BC. By that calendar, the year 2000 is the first year
> of the new millennium. The two notations differ in the crucial part:
> 2 AD = +2
> 1 AD = +1
> 1 BC = 0
> 2 BC = -1
> 3 BC = -2
> So the BC years differ by one year. The astronomers were quite sensible
> to introduce this change, as otherwise adding and subtracting dates
> would be wrong by 1 year. Eg. the time between 2 BC and 2 AD is just 3
> not 4 (as one would expect). With the year zero, you just add the number
> year before and after (2 and 1).
If you just add the year before and after, (2 and 1) you indeed get three.
But I think that is not what you meant to say.
We normally count and name a year after it is finished, that is true. But on
a number line, the name of an interval is the number at its beginning. Or I
could say that from -2 to -1 is one year, from -1 to 0 is one year, (Zero
simply being a point in time, not a year) 0 to +1 being a year, and +1 to +2
a year. Thus from -2 to +2 would be two years, made up of infinitely many
points in time.
> BTW: Jewish and Byzantine calendars started counting from the beginning
> of the world and theoretically should not have the "zero problem".
> But their beginnings differ...
They counted from what their originators fancied to be the "beginning of the
world". They were not there, of course, so how did they derive that
imaginary (in the common usage, not the mathematical) number?
|Re: millennium by "Gerald G. Fuller" <>|