Title text: The month names are the same, except that the fourth month only has the name 'April' in even-numbered years, and is otherwise unnamed.
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This comic is a reference to the paradox in complexity theory that if you attempt to simplify a system of problems by creating a new system of evaluation for the problems you have instead made the problem more complex than it was originally.
Randall advertises his idea for an "Universal Calendar for a Universal Planet". He combines calendar definitions with time zone definitions. The abbreviation EST is a joke on the American Eastern Standard Time.
- "24 hours 4 minutes" makes the days longer attempting to compensate the fact there are now only 360 in a year. Four days are still missing in this calculation.
- Running the clock 4 hours backwards after every full moon, giving 8 additional hours at each full moon, twelve times in a year. This fills the gap from before. This also makes the time between full moons close to 30 "days" (in real life it's 29.5 days).
- The Epoch at EST matches the Julian calendar which was superseded by the actual Gregorian calendar. The Julian calendar is currently 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar.
- The different zone for the United Kingdom is because 1 yard is equal to 0.9144 meters. A pun on using imperial units instead of the metric system. At the United States the metric system is the official one, but the imperial units are still widely used.
- The one obvious reference is to Narnian time, a fictitious world of Narnia in CS Lewis's The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. In Narnia, time passes much more quickly than in the real world. You could be in Narnia for several days and only a few minutes would have passed in the real world.
- The year 1958 is relevant because January 1, 1958 is the epoch (time zero) in International Atomic Time (TAI), which is part of the basis for Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). (The main difference is that TAI doesn’t add leap seconds).
- The Gregorian calendar does not include the year "0", after "1" BC the next year is "1" AD. Randalls invention fixes this according to correct Mathematics.
- The title text may be a reference to the ancient (Pre-Babylonian Exile) Jewish Calendar, which did not name the months, rather assigning them numbers from 1 to 12. The names used in modernity are the names of the Babylonian months, derived from various Babylonian deities.
- XKCD[sic] Presents
- EARTH STANDARD TIME
- A Universal Calendar for a Universal Planet
- EST is...
- Simple * Clearly Defined * Unambiguous
- Free of Historical Baggage * Compatible with Old Units
- Precisely Synced with the Solar Cycle * Free of Leap Years
- Intermittently Amenable to Date Math
- Second: 1 S.I. Second
- Minute: 60 seconds
- Hour: 60 minutes
- Day: 1444 minutes (24 hours 4 minutes)
- Month: 30 Days
- Year: 12 months
- For 4 hours after every full moon, run clocks backward.
- The non-prime-numbered minutes of the first full non-reversed hour after a solstice or equinox happen twice.
- 00:00:00 EST, January 1, 1970 = 00:00:00 GMT, January 1, 1970 (Julian calendar)
- [Time Zones]
- The two EST time zones are
- EST and EST (United Kingdom). These are the same except that the UK second is 0.9144 standard seconds.
- Daylight saving: Countries may enter DST, but no time may pass there.
- Narnian Time: Synchronized.
- Year Zero: EST does have a year 0. (However, there is no 1958.)