A physicist at Johns Hopkins University, Dick Henry has proposed replacing the Gregorian calendar with a new one.
The current calendar, which runs for 365 days, was instituted by Pope Gregory in 1582 to bring the length of the year in line with the seasons. But because the Earth actually orbits the Sun every 365.24 days, a 366-day “leap year” must be added every four years to account for the extra fraction of a day. In this Gregorian system, a given date (such as New Year’s Day) falls on different days of the week in different years because 365 is not evenly divisible by seven.
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So Henry designed a calendar that uses 364 days, which breaks down evenly into 52 weeks. In his so called ‘Calendar-and-Time’ (C&T) plan, each month contains 30 or 31 days. He decided on each month’s length by forbidding the new calendar to differ from the old one by more than five days and by setting Christmas Day, 25 December, to always fall on a Sunday.
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His constraints meant eight months would have different lengths than they do now. March, June, September, and December would each contain 31 days, while the other months would each get 30. To keep the calendar in synchronisation with the seasons, Henry inserted an extra week – which is not part of any month – every five or six years. He named the addition ‘Newton Week’ in honour of his favourite physicist, Isaac Newton.
‘If I had my way, everyone would get Newton Week off as a paid vacation and could spend the time doing physics, or other activities of their choice,’ he says.
Despite this incentive, Henry says he has encountered resistance to his plan – mainly because people would be ‘stuck’ with a birthday that always falls on a Wednesday, for example. Henry, who is among that group, is not moved by the argument. ‘You have my permission to celebrate your birthday the preceding or following Saturday,’ he says.”