The Relevance of Time
Most people have it at home or even wear it on their wrist, a watch that tells us the time. Everyone follows the times and structures their day more or less according to it. Without time, almost everyone in the modern world would probably be pretty stuck. You have appointments, commitments and deadlines. Without structure in our time, our life would probably sink into chaos. For example, nobody would know how long pasta had been cooking in water or could determine the processing time for an exam. For us it is the most normal that a day has 24 hours, an hour 60 minutes and a minute 60 seconds. But how did it come about and who decided it? In the following we will go into why an hour consists of 60 minutes and not something of 100 or 80 minutes.
The stories behind the 60 minutes
There are many theories about this and which of them is correct cannot be said with a hundred percent probability. One thing is certain, the invention of our calendar and the invention of the hour as we know it was several years ago. Probably the best-known theory on this goes back to the people of the Babylonians. It is said that the number 12 in the Babylonian number system had a special religious meaning. The number 60 represents a multiple of the number 12 and could therefore come from there. In the Babylonian period, people orientated themselves on the sequence of the phases of the moon. These consisted of 12 lunations. Lunations describe the complete time it takes for the moon to orbit our earth once.
A watchmaker also related that the Babylonian sexagesimal system is said to have consisted of a large wheel with exactly 60 teeth. Our seven days of the week are said to have developed in Babylonian times. So stood for the seven planets, Sun, Moon, Mercury, Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn. A day was then dedicated to each planet.
Other sources refer to the origin of the hour to the late Roman period, in which there are even written references to the division of the minute into 60 seconds.
Another explanation why the hour consists of 60 minutes can be found in the ancient Sumerians and their number system. They discovered counting with their fingers and thereby developed their own number and calculation system. Here they not only counted with their fingers, but also with the limbs of their fingers, which consist of three limbs. They used their thumbs to note the number of fingers they had already counted. So they had their right hand with five fingers and their left hand with four fingers, since the thumb served as a “intermediate store” and the three limbs of the fingers were available. This resulted in the number 60 due to the calculation 4x3x5. This number is still used today as the basis for our angle division, which suggests the next theory.
Some researchers say that the development of the 60-minute hour only took place with the development of the clock. As we all know, the clock is round, consisting of 360 degrees and our dial has been divided into 12 sections, for 12 hours. This showed that every 30 degrees there must be a digit on the dial. So the number 60 was perfect. 180 degrees, half of 360 degrees, correspond to 30 minutes, and 90 degrees correspond to 15 minutes.
Other groups of people and researchers say that the number 60 has something to do with our heartbeat. A healthy human heart beats about 86,400 times a day. This makes a calculation of 3600 times an hour and 60 times a minute. Accordingly, the number 60 is said to have come naturally and was used intuitively by people back then.
The gift of timing
So there are a few theories for which one would have to go far back in history to prove it. However, one thing is clear. The division of an hour into 60 minutes will always remain so in our modern age and is indispensable. It gives us structure and orientation. You can get a lot done in an hour and sometimes the 60 minutes go by quickly. But thanks to a uniform time division of one hour into 60 minutes, everyone has the same time.