Biological clock discovered

Thursday 30 January 2003

A husband and wife team at Purdue University has found the protein that measures time for the biological clock. This is fascinating and exciting on many levels, but here's the part that floored me: The fundamental unit is 24 minutes, or 1/60th of a day.

When you consider the metric system, everything is based on multiples of 10, except for time: the second is used, 60 seconds to a minute, 60 minutes to an hour, 24 hours in a day. If you look into why 60, you get back to the Babylonians who cared more about 60 than they did 10 and 100. The reason given why they liked 60 was that there were roughly 360 days in a year, so they divided the circle into 360 degrees (another thing we still do), and the 60 followed naturally from that.

Now along comes this biochemistry research that shows that somehow 60 is hard-wired into our bodies. I know that doesn't explain 60 seconds in a minute, but at the very least, it's an amazing coincidence. Maybe the Babylonians were tuned into something we're only just now re-discovering.

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