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Binary Clock! Ting Tong!:) February 1, 2007

Posted by Ragesh G R in Physics and Maths, Unleashed.
Tags: , , , ,

No!, this is NOT a simple clock that has the numbers written on it in binary. This is different! When I was in my hometown, hearing the usual clock that strikes x times when the time is x hours, I got really annoyed. The reason is that at say 12 o clock The clock struck 12 times! That was both annoying to hear and hard to count.

This left me thinking. You see, the usual clock strikes in Unary system (just like a Turing machine!). It has only one symbol(sound), so it strikes “x” times to represent “x”. Just like we would mark 4 vertical lines on the board to represent say 4 points in a quiz.

So, if we use a binary system for the clock, the number of strikes could be limited to just 4 (2^4 = 16 >12). Here is how it will work. There will be two sounds, one to represent 0, and another, to represent 1. So with only 4 strikes, it can represent all the numbers in a 12 hour clock (and only 5 strikes even in a 24 hour clock). For instance, let’s assign the sound “Ting” to 0, and “Tong” to 1. So at 5 0’clock, the clock will strike “Ting Tong Ting Tong” (0101), and at 12 o’clock, it will strike “Tong Tong Ting Ting” (1100).

In a 12 hour period, the usual unary clock strikes 78 times (1+2+..+12) . But our Binary clock strikes only 48 times (12*4). Hence from 5 o’clock onwards, the binary clock strikes less than the usual unary clock.

The advantage of the Binary clock over other bases like, say 3, 4 etc is that, since only 2 sounds (not more) are used, its easy to remember them, and calculating the time is also easier. For example, if we use a decimal system, we need to remember 10 different sounds. If we use Base-3 for example, not only one needs to remember 3 sounds, the calculation of time, too are not straight forward ( ex: 201 (Base-3) = 2*9+1 = 19). So I think, Binary is compact and elegant.

But, many people (I mean people who do not know about Base systems), may find it difficult to compute the time. I just think its a novel idea! :).. I ll try implementing it soon.