O lente, lente, currite noctis equi!

So time in SL is funny in various ways. First, there’s SLT, Second Life Time or Standard Linden Time or something, which is the same as United States Pacific Time (and presumably gains and loses an hour due to daylight savings at the same times as whatever jurisdiction Linden Lab’s headquarters is in does). SLT is very useful for co-ordinating things, because people in SL are from at least as many different time zones as exist on Earth, and while having a single time-scale in common doesn’t make it any easier to get to those events that happen at 2am local time, at least you know they’re at 2am, and don’t try to attend at some other time entirely because you used the wrong GMT offset to convert from Irish to Japanese times.

As well as SLT, we also have sun time. On the mainland, and on any private estates where the estate owner hasn’t overridden the sun, and as long as you yourself haven’t overridden the sun position in your viewer, you’ll see (if you’re outside, or in a place where the ceiling is missing or transparent, or if you’ve cammed out of doors) the sun (or the moon) going around from East to West, just like in the atomic world.

But the SL default sun has a number of features that are very unlike the atomic world. In the atomic world, the sun rises roughly every 24 hours. In SL (assuming, etc), there’s a sunrise every four hours. So the sun-day is just four hours long; there are six sunrises and six sunsets every SLT-day. (Did Linden Lab do this so there’d be more scenic and romantic times? Or just on a whim? Or by accident? Who knows!)  When it’s midnight SLT it’s also midnight according to the sun, but byond that things get strange.

The four hour sun-day isn’t split into two hours of daylight and two hours of night; in fact the daytime is three hours long, and the night is one hour long. So midnight is half an hour after sunset, whereas noon is 90 minutes after sunrise. (The moon is also locked directly opposite the sun; so the moon is always at its zenith at midnight, it sets at dawn, and rises again at sunset.)

To illustrate all this, I made a clock (see illustration at right or somewhere).  It occurs to me, having just uploaded the picture, that being a completely static picture of a circle with three hands and a little mark at the top, it doesn’t actually tell you anything at all except “look! a clock!, but there you are.

What the clock actually does, in SL, is map the SL sun-day into a 24-hour clock day.  At sun-midnight (when the moon is high), all three hands point up.  The hour hand goes around twice per sun-day (that is, twice every four hours, once every two hours), just like an atomic-world twelve-hour clock goes around twice per atomic-world day.

The minute-hand goes around twelve times during each daylight period, and twelve times during each nighttime period (and the secondhand does the same only sixty times faster), just like (roughly) in the atomic world.  Since the SL sun-day daylight period is one-third the length of the nighttime period, the hands move three times as fast at night.

Which is to say, I made a clock that moves four times as fast as an atomic-world clock when the SL sun is up, and twelve times as fast as an atomic-world clock when the SL sun is down.  So that you can see that, when you’re out partying under the SL stars, one precious minute is passing away every five seconds.  Which is just what it feels like sometimes!  :)

10 Responses

  1. Wow!!! I am totally amazed by your analysis and creation! (I always wondered about the times of day in SL and how it worked but never realized how very complex it is, and how very precious yes.) Wow!!! Oh, and I really *like* your banner a great deal…it reminds me of an Andy Warhol treatment. Very creative and artistic! :)

  2. Thanks very! :)

    (Oh, and anyone to whom I’ve given a sweep-secondhand clock, I’m suspecting that there’s some bug that makes the secondhand not always change speed when it should. Let me know if yours is misbehaving!)

  3. So I’m sitting here, staring up at a full moon in the SL sky and I wonder – does the moon go through phases here as well?

  4. Good question! I don’t recall ever seeing it other than full, so I’d give about 5-to-1 odds that it’s always full. But no more than that. :)

    I’ve also heard rumors that the Lindens are working on a richer and/or different and/or more realistic weather-and-sky system in general, so everything could change at any time. (There’s also been alot of demand to let the estate owner set up a default set of Windlight settings, which would make them about a million times more useful, so I hope that happens! In fact I hope that happens before phases of the moon…)

  5. See also SVC-1385 on the SL JIRA https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/SVC-1385 which proposes setting SLT to UTC (i.e. GMT, near enough) and leaving it there year-round. This being the time displayed by the viewer, used for events, etc.)

  6. So, that 3:1 ratio completely threw me in my early days in SL. Sensing that the night was only 1 hr, and assuming the day was equivalent, I incorrectly assumed that there was a 2 hr day. Early in my writings, the number 12 (being 24 / 2) started to figure promiently. “Everything happens at 12X speed in SL.” Relationships speed through their cycle more quickly. The pain you feel is 100% as intense as RL, but is over 12X faster. To offset that, the ability to love more people, and more deeply, seems to be increased by factor of 12. But maybe that is just me. Yay for Poly! Kiss kiss.

  7. The factor of 12 does apply, but only when the sim sun is down. :) When the sun’s up it’s only 4:1. Through the Wonders of Arithmetic this turns out to average 6:1 (i.e. six Sim sunsets per RL day).

    But subjectively, yeah; SL time feels very very fast. Very!

  8. […] and spam it out to my friends. Maybe a nice little card, and a special Solstice version of the sun-time clock, or […]

  9. […] Comments Solstice in Extropia… on O lente, lente, currite noctis…daleinnis on A Bloomin’ Mole!~ on A Bloomin’ Mole!Dale Innis on I am […]

  10. […] photos on this post show my new orrery and a clock that keeps SL time. I simply adore them. What patience and precision to translate RL into something so wonderful in […]

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