Almost 1,496 years ago, a monk named Dionysius Exiguus divided the universal time to designate years based on a year Jesus was born — the “A.D.” and “B.C.” system. Now, a similar Great Reset of our timeline is being attempted with COVID-19 as a marker – the BC & AC system (ie. Before Coronavirus and After Coronavirus).
इस लेख को हिंदी में पढ़ें – कोरोनावायरस से पहले और कोरोनावायरस के बाद हमारी समय-रेखा का ग्रेट रीसेट
The Time Keepers
Origin of AD
One of the main motivations for the European study of mathematics in the early Middle Ages, was the problem of when to celebrate Easter.
The First Council of Nicaea, in A.D. 325, had decided that Easter would fall on the Sunday following the full moon that follows the spring equinox. Computus (Latin for computation) was the procedure for calculating this date, and the computations were set forth in documents known as Easter tables.
It was on one such table that, in A.D. 525, a monk named Dionysius Exiguus of Scythia Minor introduced the A.D. system, counting the years since the birth of Christ.
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However, Dionysius never said how he determined the date of Jesus’ birth, which is still disputed. In addition, the system only counted time after AD. What about the history of the years before that time?
Origin of BC
The problem was solved two centuries later with the addition of the B.C. component when the Venerable Bede of Northumbria published his “Ecclesiastical History of the English People” in 731.
Up until this point, Dionysius’ system had been widely used. Bede’s work not only brought the A.D. system to the attention of other scholars, but also expanded the system to include years before A.D. 1. Prior years were numbered to count backward to indicate the number of years an event had occurred “before Christ” or “B.C.”
However, there still was a problem with this system – the problem of Zero.
The Problem of Year Zero
According to Charles Seife in his book “Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea”: “To Bede, also ignorant of the number zero, the year that came before 1 A.D. [sic] was 1 B.C. There was no year zero. After all, to Bede, zero didn’t exist.”
However, zero did exist; our modern conception of zero was first published by the Indian scholar Brahmagupta. The idea would not spread to medieval Christian Europe, however, until the 11th to 13th centuries.
The story of Mathematics in Ancient India and how it reached Europe laid the foundations of modern mathematics enlightening the entire world in what is known as the ‘world event’.
Imposition of BC/AD system
Meanwhile, the B.C./A.D. system gained in popularity in the ninth century after Roman Emperor Charlemagne adopted the system for dating acts of government throughout Europe.
In 1582, the Gregorian calendar was instituted by papal bull Inter gravissimas by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar is named.
This later would become an international standard in 1988 when the International Organization for Standardization released ISO 8601, which describes an internationally accepted way to represent dates and times.
The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) of the Government of India officially recommends use of this system adopted as BIS IS 7900:2001.
The New BC & AC system
Like monk Dionysius some 1,496 years ago, a re-tinkering of our timeline is being attempted. The idea is propagated by Klaus Schwab in his book COVID-19: The Great Reset:
“At the time of writing, the pandemic continues to worsen globally. Many of us are pondering when things will return to normal. The short response is: never. Nothing will ever return to the “broken” sense of normalcy that prevailed prior to the crisis because the coronavirus pandemic marks a fundamental inflection point in our global trajectory.”
“Some analysts call it a major bifurcation, others refer to a deep crisis of “biblical” proportions, but the essence remains the same: the world as we knew it in the early months of 2020 is no more, dissolved in the context of the pandemic.”
“Radical changes of such consequence are coming that some pundits have referred to a “before coronavirus” (BC) and “after coronavirus” (AC) era. We will continue to be surprised by both the rapidity and unexpected nature of these changes – as they conflate with each other, they will provoke second-, third-, fourth- and more-order consequences, cascading effects and unforeseen outcomes.”
Already the idea is being propagated with articles like ‘Our New Historical Divide: B.C. and A.C. — the World Before Corona and the World After’ published by the New York Times and ‘Life BC and AC’ published by the Financial Times.
Everything from economics, sports, politics, food, entertainment, education etc is being viewed through the prism of coronavirus. And this is just the beginning.
In the words of Klaus Schwab, we “will shape a “new normal” radically different from the one we will be progressively leaving behind. Many of our beliefs and assumptions about what the world could or should look like will be shattered in the process.”