# If there is 23 hours and 56 minutes in a day, how is it time hasn't gotten all screwed up by now?

those 4 shy minutes of 24 hours add up to 5937 minutes every 4 years (I also added the seconds)

that's 4.122917 days

every 4 years we add an extra day, but that still means we are 3.122917 days off from where we were 4 year's previous, how is this not affecting when the seasons come?

and what about the .122917, what effect does that have? how is it morning and night still arrive at the times they always have?

you might say a year is a little longer than 365 days, im not sure, but my clock doesn't know the difference, the only addition of time across all my devices is that one day every 4 years, how is everything matching up?

### 27 Answers

- 3 weeks ago
If you dye your hair green and put 3 apples on your head while spinning around in a circle and clapping in public once per year, it reverses the polarity of the moon and adds an extra 4 minutes of time, fixing the problem. The issue is rather that, not enough people are doing this and that we need at least 1/10 of people to do this if we want to be 100% safe.

Source(s): Michio Kaku - 3 weeks ago
If we go off the definition of a solar day, that takes almost 24 hours(23 hours, 59 min 59.3 sec) which is a noon-to-noon day. If we go off your definition, then the four minutes is negligible. That's why time hasn't gotten screwed up by now. And techincally every year is 364 &1/4 days (the minutes total throughout a year by your definition). On Leap Year(every 4th year) we give February an extra day in it's calendar.

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- RaymondLv 73 weeks ago
Our timekeeping units are determined by the average time taken by the Sun to cover exactly one day, from solar noon one day, to solar noon the next day. A long time ago, people used 6 units from sunrise to noon, then 6 more from noon to sunset.

When the Romans needed to extend this to night time (to determine the soldiers' watch periods), they simply mirrored the 12 hours of the day into 12 more hours for the night. Thus 24 hours in a full day. During that time, the Sun's apparent polar angle changes by 360 degrees (one full turn).

24 hours for 360 degrees = 15 degrees per hour.

Sidereal day: one rotation of Earth relative to fixed stars. If you start a normal chronometer at the exact moment a particular star crosses your meridian (your north-south line), then the very same star will again cross your meridian 23h56m04s later.

Distant stars are so... err... distant that their apparent direction does not change over short periods (we can detect changes in apparent position for closest stars, when using periods of decades or centuries).

Thus, the sidereal period is the "true" rotation period of Earth, when calculating things like rotational energy or geosynchronous orbits.

Being true, though, does not make it the most useful for everyday life. Our schedule is based on the Sun, not the stars.

During that one day of rotation, the Earth has moved on its orbit around the Sun, making the Sun appear to have moved relative to the fixed stars. By how much? 1/365 of a full turn (360), or just about one degree per day. It is that extra degree that Earth must turn for your meridian to catch up to the Sun.

15 degrees = 1 hour = 60 minutes

1 degree = 4 minutes

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Earth's rotation rate (one day) has nothing to do with how long it takes to go around the Sun (one year). That is why the number of days in a year is not a round number. The tropical year (the one that is based on the average return of the seasons - because our lives are based on our long term ability to grow food) happens to be equal to 365.242189... days of 24 hours (the "normal" day, not the sidereal one).

No calendar can cope with that weird fraction without a very complicated system.

Instead, people try to get as close as possible.

The early Romans (before Julius Caesar) tried to keep an average of 365 days. Julius took a trick from the Egyptians and made the average 365.25 by adding one day every 4 years (thus averaging 1/4 of a day per year).

In those days, March (the month of the war god Mars) was the first month of the year; that is why the extra day was added in February, the last month of the year.

Fifteen centuries later, this was found to not be exact enough so that astronomers proposed, to pope Gregory 13, a calendar that would remove 3 leap years every 400 years, bringing the average down to 365.2425, a bit closer to the true value. This "Gregorian" calendar is what we are now on.

Time has not gotten all screwed up because astronomers keep track of how our artificial timekeeping drifts when compared to the real time of nature. Instruments are now so sensitive that we can measure the very small change in Earth's rotation when there is an earthquake somewhere.

There are still very tiny differences between the time we keep and the "true" time, but the differences are small enough that very few people notice. Life goes on.

- 3 weeks ago
Answer.

It takes the earth 365.25 days to orbit our sun. They dont count the .25 days but once every 4 years. Which is why every 4 years is leap year and Feb. Has 29. Days stead of 28. Also for astronomical reasons. Have to make the days match the stars. Or a ship would have never crossed an ocean.

- daniel gLv 73 weeks ago
But it has, I mean it has you all confused. The more you mess with time, the worse it gets.

Now me,,awful simple,,I look at the clock, and bingo,,I know what time it is.

I had to work in an environment like with GPS and coordinated universal time, less than 1/4 second at any given moment. That time standard corrected down to a nanosecond. 2 times a year, the calendar adjusted to the exact moment earths orbit crosses zero degrees and the zero hour on the celestial coordinate system.

Again at exactly zero degrees and 12:00'00.

The ascending and descending nodes of the ecliptic respectively.

Not hard really, those points happen to be the Autumnal and vernal equinox.

Now to really screw things up, you need to divide a day into 2-12 hour parts,AM and PM. easy enough, but split that 27 ways depending on which time zone you live in.

Don't forget international date line,,that is like what day is it.

Forget everything I just said, today, we all have cell phone. Time on your phone adjusted to a few nanoseconds of time and date standard. Comes from GPS at the nearby cell tower. Bad enough every 4 years, there is a February 29.

At least the naval observatory and NBS corrects for time, midnight of each day, so you never notice.

I am retired now,,not into time. I know when the bus comes and the local coffee shop opens, that is good enough.

It is just later than it has ever been before.

- nineteenthlyLv 73 weeks ago
That's the sidereal day, not the solar day which is exactly twenty-four hours. It's different because the orbit of this planet leads to the stars appearing to shift slightly from day to day, making about a four minute difference in the times of rising and setting at the equator. The solar day is connected to the seasons, not the sidereal day.

Well,,yes, and no.

- SamandrielLv 63 weeks ago
You are using sidereal days (how long it takes the earth to make a rotation about its axis). We normally measure time in solar days (how long it takes the earth to make a rotation with respect to the sun).

To understand why there is a difference, imagine that the earth did not spin at all. Over the course of a year, the earth would make a complete orbit around the sun, and effectively experience 1 day.

Let's split straws over a fraction of a second. Why not find something important like VOTING MAYBE?