A new decade

Is it really 20 years since we greeted a new millennium, wondering if all the computers in the world would crash?

Back then a few numerical purists argued that given there was no year zero, the 21st century wouldn’t really start until 2001.

Some of those purists might be arguing that we’re a year short of the new decade now but if we stop being teens and enter our 20s on our 20th birthday, then surely the 2020s started this morning.

Whether or not you agree, may the new year, and decade be kind to you and yours.

One Response to A new decade

  1. Roj Blake says:

    A decade is a period of 10 years, therefore 2005 – 2014 is a decade.

    However, as far as the Millenium here is an excellent explanation as to why you are wrong.

    The 21st Century Started in 2001

    In 1999, the world was preparing for the New Year’s party of a lifetime. The year number in the Gregorian calendar was about to tick over to 2000, supposedly ushering in not only the 21st century but also the 3rd millennium CE.

    However, the party was held one year too early—it should have been on January 1, 2001.

    CE, BCE, AD, BC,: What’s the difference?
    Year Zero

    It all boils down to the question: was there a year 0? Let’s first assume that year BCE 0 existed. This would mean that:

    1 full year would have passed at the end of year 0 since the beginning of the year count;
    2 years would have passed at the end of year 1;
    and so on…

    This means that 2000 years, two full millennia, would have passed at the end of year 1999. In other words, the 3rd millennium would have started on New Year’s Day 2000.

    The only problem with this theory is that year 0 did not exist, as historians, calendar experts, timeanddate.com, and other killjoys kept pointing out in the lead-up to the big party in year 2000.

    So, how do we know there was no year zero?
    Anno Domini

    Anno domini, the year numbering system (calendar era) we use today, was devised by a 6th-century monk named Dionysius Exiguus, who lived in an area now part of Romania and Bulgaria. Dionysius used Roman numerals to number the years “since the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ”, as he put it in his writings—and there is no Roman numeral for the number zero.

    It is worth pointing out that Dionysius did use the Latin number words nulla and nihil, both meaning “nothing,” in his calculations of the date of Easter. However, he used these words to imply the absence of a number, rather than the number zero itself. In fact, it is believed that the concept of the number zero, as it is used today, did not exist in Europe until the 13th century.
    Year 1 BCE Was Followed by Year CE 1

    This means that year AD 1 directly followed year 1 BC, without the year count ever reaching zero. In other words, the first year of the anno domini era was year 1, not year 0. As a consequence,

    1 full year had passed at the end of year 1;
    2 years had passed at the end of year 2;
    and so on…

    So, at the end of year 1999, as people were celebrating the new millennium, only 1999 full years had passed since the beginning of the calendar era—which is one year short of two full millennia.



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