How Long Is a Moment?

In modern English, the term "moment" refers to an unspecific short amount of time. The term is thought to date to the 14th century and was used to refer to a period of 90 seconds. An hour in medieval times therefore consisted of 40 moments. The Hebrew calendar has a shorter definition of a moment, referred to as rega, which is roughly equivalent to 5/144 of a second. In 1990, scientist and poet Miroslav Holub proposed the idea that a moment is about the average length of time it takes a person to read a line of verse.

More about time measurements:

  • The term "jiffy" is often used as nonspecific short time period, but it also also is a technical computing term that refers to the amount of time it takes a computer system to signal to a processor — about 0.01 seconds.

  • The phrase “in a twinkle of the eye” comes from the Latin word atomus and is considered to be about 160 milliseconds, or one 376th of a minute.

  • The ancient Egyptians, in about 1500 B.C., are thought to be the first people to measure time, by dividing the period from sunrise to sunset into 12 parts.

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