Facebook Creates New Unit of Time - And No, it's Not a Gimmick

John Lister's picture

Facebook has invented a new unit of time called "the flick." Perhaps surprisingly it actually serves a purpose rather than being a mere gimmick.

A "flick" is a word that's a shortened version of a "frame tick". It refers to the length of time of 1 second divided by 705,600,000; in decimal format it would look like this: 1.417233560090703e-9. All mathematics aside, the "flick" could help make online videos smoother as well as improve virtual reality and similar technologies.

The flick is now the next longest unit of time after the nanosecond, which isn't just a turn of phrase but rather is one second divided by a billion.

Mathematics Is The Key

The key to the flick is that it evenly divides into many different numbers representing specific fractions of a second that are commonly used in video and audio. Some examples include high definition video recorded at 24 frames per second, CD and digital audio files recorded at 44.1 KHz (44,100 'chunks' of data per one second of audio), and 120 hertz - the number of frames of video shown per second on a television or monitor.

Those numbers are technically abbreviated because they have decimals that run infinitely. The flick, however, can be used to evenly divide 24 frames per second, or 44.1 KHz, and even 120 Hz - which means you get video that is smooth as well as audio that never goes out of sync. This is especially useful when converting audio and video file formats. (Source: techcrunch.com)

"Internet Time" Previously Bombed

A researcher told the BBC the flick system could be particularly useful in virtual reality and gaming, particularly where it's important for the experience to be immersive. Removing even tiny glitches makes it much less likely that the user's brain will spot something amiss and thus break the illusion. (Source: bbc.co.uk)

Several sources have noted the system might be more successful than a previous attempt to create a new unit of time. Back in 1998, Swatch tried to create "Internet Time", a unit of 86.4 seconds. This was done so that a day divided into 1,000 units. Supposedly this would eliminate the need for time zones, though it came across more as a marketing gimmick for watches.

What's Your Opinion?

Are you impressed by Facebook creating what appears to be a simple solution to a problem? Is this a worthwhile use of Facebook's (pardon the pun) time? Is making video more immersive an important goal or just a gimmick?

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