Lá se foram 10 dias…

O calendário maia, dizem os apocalípticos, prevê o fim do mundo para o dia 21 de dezembro de 2012. Calendários, no entanto, são excelentes instrumentos para orientar sobre o compromisso da próxima quarta-feira, mas são um embuste para prever o futuro. As diversas civilizações – não só os maias, mas os egípcios, os chineses – criaram os próprios calendários, uns com base no Sol, outros com base na Lua, uns mais longos, outros mais curtos, mas todos sempre foram expressão da inclinação humana de atribuir ordem ao caos. Com o calendário, criamos a sensação de ordenar os dias, os meses e os anos num sistema cronológico racional e matematicamente preciso. Só que a natureza não é assim. Num delicioso livro lançado às vésperas do ano 2000, O Milênio em Questão, no qual se baseia este texto, o grande paleontólogo americano Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002) escreveu: “A natureza, aparentemente, pode fazer um esplêndido hexágono, mas não um ano com um belo número par de dias ou rotações lunares”. E, com o humor que lhe era peculiar, acrescentou: “A natureza se recusa teimosamente a trabalhar com relações numéricas simples justamente naquilo em que sua regularidade seria mais útil para nós”.

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Ou seja: os ciclos naturais dos dias, meses e anos não são redondos, pares perfeitos. São frações, números quebrados, e aí começa um problemão. Um ano – tempo que a Terra leva para dar uma volta completa em torno do Sol – não dura 365 dias. Dura 365 dias e algumas horas. Para facilitar a conta, arbitramos que um ano dura 365 dias e seis horas, ou um quarto de dia. Mas, como não podemos ter um quarto de dia, a cada quatro anos temos o ano bissexto, com 366 dias, o que recoloca nosso calendário em sintonia com o ano solar. Porém, a natureza, na sua magistral indiferença para com nossos números inteiros, na realidade não faz um ano de 365 dias e seis horas. São 365 dias e 5 horas, 48 minutos e 45,97 segundos! Isso quer dizer que o acréscimo do 366° dia cobre o descompasso ocorrido em cada quatro anos, mas imprecisamente. Como o tal descompasso não era de exatas 24 horas – era de 23 horas, 15 minutos e 3,88 segundos –, o ajuste feito pelo ano bissexto ainda nos deixa com um pequeno atraso em relação à natureza: um atraso de 44 minutos e 56,12 segundos a cada quatro anos. É pequeno, mas aumenta com o tempo. Em vinte anos, o atraso soma quase quatro horas. É tolerável. Em 100 anos, passa de dezoito horas. Começa a complicar. À medida que vai avançando, passa a embaralhar as estações do ano, a época certa para plantar, para colher, para pescar. Vira um, digamos, apocalipse.

Em 1582, o calendário da época, que vinha desde os tempos do Império Romano, já acumulava um atraso de dez dias em relação ao ano solar. Era demais, inadmissível. O papa Gregório XIII convocou então uma comissão de matemáticos para dar uma solução ao problema. Chegou-se a uma saída formidável. Com seu poder incontrastável sobre o destino da humanidade e do universo, o papa decretou o sumiço dos dez dias. Simples assim. Riscou fora. A humanidade foi dormir em 4 de outubro e acordou em 15 de outubro. O período de 5 a 14 de outubro de 1582 não existiu, jogando algumas dúvidas para as calendas gregas. O que aconteceu com quem fazia aniversário no período suprimido? E quem tinha conta para pagar num dia que sumiu? Pagou juros? Queixou-se ao papa? Resolvida a diferença de dez dias, a comissão achou outras soluções criativas. Para evitar que o descompasso dos anos bissextos voltasse a se alargar a longo prazo, estabeleceu que a cada século múltiplo de 100 – 1800, 1900, 2000, por exemplo – não haveria ano bissexto. Excelente. Mas a retirada do 366° dia seria provisoriamente excelente porque criaria um desequilíbrio lá adiante. Então, inventou-se outra compensação: de quatro em quatro séculos, o ano bissexto volta.

Parece confuso, mas é assim que funciona até hoje: de 100 em 100 anos, cai o ano bissexto; de 400 em 400, reinstala-se o ano bissexto. Com esses avanços e recuos, somas e diminuições, nosso calendário consegue dançar num movimento parecido com o balé irregular dos ciclos naturais. (Não é idêntico porque o calendário gregoriano ainda se distancia do ano solar em 25,96 segundos. É irrisório, leva mais ou menos 2 800 anos para chegar a um dia inteiro, mas perfeito é que não é.) Diante de tantos ajustes, a velha e boa folhinha de parede é um medidor preciso para o compromisso de quarta-feira, mas, com suas imprecisões em relação aos eventos astronômicos, não é exatamente boa para embasar previsões futuras.

Fonte: Veja

12 comentários

  • Muito bom o artigo, parabéns!

  • No balanço das horas tudo pode mudar!

  • Assisti 2012 esses dias e não é lá essas coisas =/

  • MUITO BOM O TEXTO……E A RESPEITO DO ANO DE 2012, COM CERTEZA O FINAL ESTARÁ PRESENTE …. MAS PRA QUEM MORRE COMO EM TODOS OS DIAS DO CICLO DA VIDA!!!! E ESSE FINAL SO DEUS É QUEM DECIDE E NÃO ESPECULAÇÕES E PROFECIAS DE MORTAIS COMUNS A TODOS.

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