Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Degrees and minutes

  1. Mar 26, 2008 #1


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    A little birdy who is apparently too shy to post asks the following:

    I have a doubt: considering the 360º for earth, and if it takes 24h to a complete rotation, why 1º corresponds to 60 min? It should be 4 min...
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 26, 2008 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    I agree. It is a tradition as sensless and outdated as the mile and the pint.

    I believe that the source of it is something along these lines: The word "minute" means small, and I guess a tradition is that 1/60 is a small fraction of something. A second is actually short for the "second minute" or the "second small fraction" so 1/60 of a minute. So 1/60 of anything is a "minute" fraction and 1/3600 of anything is a "second minute" fraction.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2008
  4. Mar 29, 2008 #3
    So a degree is ten "second minutes" of a circle.
  5. Mar 30, 2008 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    mks is such a beautiful system except the base-60 and base-24 time.

    I had a fellow physics major who always asked why we are trying to unify science but we haven't bothered to unify the units yet.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook