Are you tired of that same old calendar, with 12 months of unequal length, and dates that always fall on different days? Do you forget lunch dates, closing days for real estate deals, or deadlines for IRA rollovers? When plotting graphs in your fruit fly experiment, do you ever get confused? Do you wonder why that same vile mood hits on the fifth of one month and the fifteenth of the next?
If these problems are yours, you are probably ready for the next step in time accounting, the Tranquility calendar, designed for a perfection-seeking society, especially the men and women of science. Inspired by the Apollo 11 manned mission to the moon and developed for Omni, the Tranquility calendar will ease the complexity of scientific calculation, help astronomers fathom the movements of heavenly spheres, and facilitate high-stakes business. It will also aid everyday users who simply require a precise, easy-to-follow record of the events of their lives.
To understand the advantages of the Tranquility calendar, one must first examine its predecessors - the 407-year-old Gregorian calendar and the Julian calendar (named for Julius Caesar), upon which the Gregorian calendar is based. The Julian calendar used a measurement of 365.25 days for one year. The actual length of a tropical year - the time it takes for the earth to make one orbit around the sun - is 365.242199 days. This seemingly insignificant discrepancy amounted to and extra 11 minutes and 14 seconds per year, or nearly eight days every thousand years. By the early 1500's, therefore, the accuracy of the Julian calendar had drifted ten full days. This meant that the vernal equinox had moved from March 21 to March 31. It became apparent that something had to be done.
So in 1582 Pope Gregory XIII amended the Julian calendar in two ways. First, he removed 10 days from that year's October. Thus October 4 was followed by October 15, which caused the next vernal equinox to fall on March 21. To keep it there in perpetuity, Gregory also came up with a way to account for the yearly runover of 11 minutes and 14 seconds: He omitted leap day in all centennial years not divisible by 400. Thus 1700, 1800, and 1900 were not leap years, but the year 2000 will be.
Herein lies one of the flaws of the Gregorian system. When making calculations involving dates that precede October 15, A.D. 1582, one must compensate for the ten lost days and the extra leap days. The Tranquility calendar remedies this by stretching endlessly into the future and the past without having to make a sudden jump from one timekeeping system to the next.
Another problem with the Gregorian calendar is that it retained the Julian calendar's months - 12 of them, many with varied lengths. The Tranquility calendar uses a format of 13 months, each with 28 days (four seven-day weeks), for a total of 364 days. One extra day is added on at the end of the year to make 365. For leap years, a second extra day is added.
Imagine how easy all this will make life for computer programmers, experimental biologists, and nuclear physicists, all of whom rely on precise schedules to conduct their intricate work. Also imagine how the Tranquility calendar will affect the lions of industry. If the first of every month is a Friday and the eleventh a Monday, week in and week out for the entire year, then billings, paychecks, and meetings will be far easier to execute, distribute, or plan. As for women, most have a 28-day mentrual cycle. A calendar with 28-day months would therefore make it easier to keep track of their monthly cycle, as well as other biological rhythms resulting from it. Men studying the Tranquility calendar may find they have some sort of monthly rhythms as well.
Thanks to our unique base point, moreover, our calendar will aid astronomers and students of ancient history who mark eras by celestial events. Indeed, a prime component of any calendar is its starting point - the arbitrarily selected moment from which to measure time in either direction. Many calendar systems, including the Gregorian, Judaic, Islamic, and Buddist calendars, are based on distant, vaguely recorded religious events. The Tranquility calendar, on the other hand, is based on a recent, well-documented event, the landing by two American astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, on the moon. Upon touchdown came those almost mystical words, "Houston ... Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." Omni's Tranquility calendar starts at the very instant the word Tranquility was uttered. As one of the most astronomically analyzed moments in scientific history, our base point can be used to chart the exact position of the earth in relationship to the moon and other celestial bodies.
Now for the details of the calendar itself. The day on which the moment of Tranquility occurred is called Moon Landing Day. It is the central day of the Tranquility calendar and it stands alone. Not part of any month or year, it has 20 hours, 18 minutes, and 1.2 seconds Before Tranquility (B.T.), and 3 hours, 41 minutes, and 58.8 seconds After Tranquility (A.T). The Gregorian equivalent of Moon Landing Day is July 20, A.D. 1969.
Because the Tranquility calendar is a calendar for science, the 13 months are named after scientists. For the record, here are the 13 outstanding individuals who've lent their names to our calendar: Archimedes (circa 287 to 212 B.C.), Greek mathematician and inventor; Tycho Brahe (1546 to 1601), Danish astronomer; Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 to 1543), Polish astronomer; Charles Darwin (1809 to 1882), English naturalist; Albert Einstein (1879 to 1955), American (German-born) theoretical physicist; Michael Faraday (1791 to 1867), English chemist and physicist; Galileo Galilei (1564 to 1642), Italian astronomer and physicist; Hippocrates (circa 460 to circa 377 B.C.), Greek physician; Imhotep (circa 2980 to 2950 B.C.), Egyptian physician and sage; Cark Jung (1876 to 1961), Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist; Johannes Kepler (1571 to 1630), German astronomer; Antoine Lavoisier (1743 to 1794), French chemist; Gregor Mendel (1822 to 1884), Austrian botanist. To facilitate record keeping, the months proceed in alphabetical order. The first day of each year is the first day of Archimedes (July 21 on the Gregorian calendar). The last day of each Tranquility year is called Armstrong Day. Named for the first human to step on the moon, Armstrong Day celebrates the anniversary of Moon Landing Day. Thus July 20, 1970, is the Gregorian equivalent of Armstrong Day, 1 A.T., and July 20, 1989, is Armstrong Day, 20 A.T.
Finally, the Tranquility calendar equivalent of leap day is called Aldrin Day. Named for Armstrong's fellow moon walker, Aldrin Day occurs every four years, with some exceptions. The exceptions are the leap days in every 400 years that are dropped to keep the calendar astronomically precise. Aldrin Day falls between the twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth of Hippocrates (February 29). The attributes of the Tranquility calendar are particularly impressive to Angela Brown, director of Planetfest '89, the Planetary Society's five-day celebration of Voyager 2's flyby of Neptune (Brahe 6 to 10, Pasadena Convention Center, Pasadena, California). "Naming the months after persons who impacted the world instead of after Roman gods is inspirational and pertinent, especially to young people," Brown says.
How can you use this new and innovative system? We do not suggest you use it in place of the everyday, Gregorian calendar. The Gregorian calendar, after all, is your social calendar: It records holidays and holy days, April Fools' Day and the Fourth of July. We do, however, urge you to use the Tranquility calendar whenever you can. You may find that it provides you with an almost organic sense of order and timing as you make your plans, feel your inner rhythms, and go about the business of your day.