Broadcasters correct in announcing new decade

That’s because counting starts at zero, not one.

Broadcasters correct in announcing new decade

Re: “Learn what decade it is, please”, (Citizen, Jan. 15)

The news broadcasters were indeed correct in believing we have entered a new decade. That’s because counting starts at zero, not one. A few examples will illustrate this: 1) You are not one when you are born: you are zero. 2) Your tape measure does not start at 1 inch or 1 cm: it starts at zero. 3) The New Year does not begin at 1 a.m.: it begins at midnight — effectively zero.

We start with zero until a certain amount of distance or time has elapsed, at which point we change to one. In a similar way, with a new century, we start with 00. (hence all the celebrations around the world at midnight, 2000). After 10 years, we arrived at 2010, the start of the new decade. The key here is not to look at the last digit, but the next to last digit — what was referred to in the old days as the “tens” column. When that digit changes, 10 years have elapsed and the decade changes. The last digit then goes back to zero, which is where we all begin.

R.C. Bayley

Cobble Hill

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