Time Travel Rookie Error: Aiming at Days That Never Existed

Rookie Time Travel Error

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In the year 1752, British and (soon-to-be) American citizens went to bed on the night of September 2nd...and all woke up on September 14th. How did they lose 11 days?

From Roman times, the Western world had worked with a calendar developed by Julius Caesar - the 'Julian Calendar'. But this calendar wasn't perfectly accurate, with its years actually being around 11 minutes out. Which isn't so bad over a few years, but after a millennium or two adds up to days.

By 1582 the mistake had multiplied out to 10 days, and the Catholic Church didn't like what it was doing to the timing of Easter. So Pope Gregory XIII instituted a new calendar - the one we use today (the Gregorian calendar) - but to do so the error needed to be corrected. Pope Gregory therefore decreed that that October 4th 1582 would become October 15th.

Protestants weren't such big fans of the Catholics, so they weren't about to listen to any papal decrees. It took them another 170 years to start instituting the change to the Gregorian calendar, with Britain and its colonies (including the soon to be United States) not changing over until 1752.

By that time, the error in the Julian calendar had built up to 11 days - so to fix the problem, in 1752 September 2nd was immediately followed by September 14th. Children with birth certificates showing each of those two dates were only born a day apart.

And if that isn't confusing enough: at that time the year began on March 25th, but with the calendar revision this was shifted to January 1 - so the year 1752 ran from March 25 to December 31, with September only being 19 days long as well.

This change in calendar results in some odd historical quirks, such as George Washington's birth certificate showing that he was born on February 11, 1731, while his birthday is now celebrated by us on February 22nd, 1732.

An important historical note to remember when setting the dates on your DeLorean!


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red pill junkie's picture
Member since:
12 April 2007
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3 hours 7 min

See video

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie

LastLoup's picture
Member since:
6 April 2010
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2 hours 23 min

They should make a movie about what happens when you pick a date that never exists. Do you go into another dimension or just a white void?

In theory, if there are an infinite number of universes and possibilities, and time travel is actually just traveling back to a place where one particular possibility didn't happen yet, you could conceivably be transported to a dimension that didn't have the calendar shift. I wonder what the world would be like then?

...I forgot how I got here but everyone seems to be heading off in that direction. I hope someone brought food. I have a feeling this is going to be a long journey................

emlong's picture
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18 September 2007
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15 hours 5 min

Do savant "calendar counters" adjust for these vagaries?

LastLoup's picture
Member since:
6 April 2010
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2 hours 23 min

...this is a good question :P

...I forgot how I got here but everyone seems to be heading off in that direction. I hope someone brought food. I have a feeling this is going to be a long journey................

allynh's picture
Member since:
29 November 2012
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6 weeks 6 days

I have three fun concepts that I play with:

- The Electric Universe with the Saturn Myth

- Growing Earth Theory

- New Chronology by Anatoly Fomenko [1]

So imagine how much fun I have looking at your time machine example with those concepts in mind.

Jump back two thousand years to see the Crucifixion, and you land in the wrong town and a thousand years early.

Jump back a couple of hundred million years to hunt dinosaurs and you will probably appear in empty space.

Skip back through time and Saturn appears in the sky, the Sun gone, then the Earth shrinks down to half the size of the Moon, and Trex is hopping around in 1/12th gravity like a kangaroo. HA!

[1] Fomenko points out that "Recorded History" only goes back a thousand years. Any written history has been manufactured, forged, made up for political reasons. (His first two books are available on "Google books". Read the first two books and you will see that he makes his case.)

History: Fiction or Science? Chronology 1


History: Fiction or Science?: Volume 2


RicoYung's picture
Member since:
1 June 2004
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19 weeks 2 days

I would think the best way to negate any possible problems arising you would have to time travel by how many Years, Days, Minutes, etc..like 1000 yrs 2 days 20 minutes.But not a specific date that may or may not exist from human derived calendars. It would also have to be based on celestial orbits, vectors, and speed since the Universe is always in motion...you could "theoretically" travel to distant planetary systems that way by literally standing still, just travel to the time that they occupy your fixed position in space.

"We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them." (Albert Einstein)