Who's who;A closer look;Discovery Series

13th August 1999 at 01:00
In the sixth century, it was decided that Christendom should start to number the years not from the founding of Rome, but from the birth of Christ; so the scholar DIONYSIUS EXIGUUS was asked to work out when that was. He made two errors: he missed out the first 12 months of Christ's life (Year 0), and set the start of Year 1 at least four years too late. In Russia, until 1700, the Orthodox Church counted from the supposed creation of the world (around 4000 BC).

The great Italian astronomer and mathematician, GALILEO GALILEI, discovered the principle of the pendulum around 1580 while watching a hanging lamp in the Cathedral at Pisa: the lamp, he noticed, always took the same amount of time to return to the bottom of the arc, regardless of the length of the swing. But it was not until the 1650s that the Dutch scientist Christiaan Hygens applied the principle to timekeeping and built the first pendulum clock.

In 1911, the American engineer FREDERICK WINSLOW TAYLOR published his book Principles of Scientific Management, which advocated breaking down industrial production into the simplest basic tasks based on "time-and-motion" studies. Taylorism was often seen as dehumanising, turning workers into clockwork automata, subject to the implacable laws of capitalist production.

The 17th-century mathematician Isaac Newton produced a theory of gravity that explained how all the parts of the universe hung together, moving as though guided by some celestial clockwork. Time and space were the absolutes within which it operated. This model remained the accepted one until ALBERT EINSTEIN's theories of relativity showed that time is not absolute, and may be more accurately conceived as a fourth dimension, attached to the three dimensions of space.

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