Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Millennial Memories

The Genealogy Carnival for the 6th of Tevet is to remember what we were doing at the turn of the Millennium.

I’m confused. The millennium changed 768 years ago. I wasn’t alive. I have been unable to trace any of my ancestors back that far. The best I can do with one line is to take it back to 5229. I don’t expect to live to the year 6000. To do so would require some major advancement in science.

OK, so I’m not really confused. I actually had to find a calendar converter online to figure out the Hebrew date for December 15th this year, and to convert 1469. I did recently post a Xmas card my grandparents exchanged, after all.

I don’t recall what I was doing exactly on December 31, 1999 or December 31, 2000. Which one was the Millennium depends upon whether you are more interested in the calendar-odometer, and the ‘turning over’ of the numbers, or whether you’re counting from the ‘Year 1.’ Both years I know I was partying with friends, but we didn’t do anything particular to celebrate the Millennium.

Every day is the beginning of a new decade, a new century, and a new millennium. Arguably, every second is. There are just some decades, centuries and millenniums very few people care about. The millennium that lasted from January 23, 789 at 12:34:56 to January 23, 1789, at 12:34:55 is one of them. But it was exactly 1000 years long (if you stick to the same calendar - see next paragraph.)

Another question I never heard discussed (though I may not have been discussing it with the right people at the time) is whether the 'New Millennium' began on Jan 1, or Jan 14. That "Second Millennium" was 13 days short of 1000 years if you observed it on January 1. Thank Pope Gregory for that.

I am curious what my ancestors were doing on Dec 31, 1899. A little Google research turned up that in 1900, Samuel Clemens was in London, so it is conceivable that my Newmark ancestors crossed paths with him during the time he was there.

There are some people, however, who were in a metaphysical state of existence/non-existence on December 31, 1899. Erwin Schroedinger was only 12 years old, and in Vienna, at the time. Apparently on December 30, 1899, the captain of a passenger ship called the Warrimoo noticed that they were extremely close to the international date line, and the equator, with enough time to play the ultimate practical joke on all the passengers. So at midnight, December 30, the date line was crossed at the equator, jumping instantly to Jan 1. No December 31! And since they were at the equator, there was a moment in time they were half in one hemisphere, and half in the other, half in winter, half in summer, half in the 19th century, half in the 20th century. I have no idea if this was repeated 8 years ago. (source) I also can’t find a passenger list for the Warrimoo, so I don’t know who was on the ship.

1 comment:

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