August 3, 2011

Why is a circle 360 degrees rather than 100?

It’s thought that the ancient peoples of Mesopotamia (Sumerians, Akkadians, and Babylonians) invented the 360-degree circle to describe their observations of the five visible planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) along with the sun and moon. They noticed that the sun’s annual trek across the sky took 360 days.

Image from:,
modified by the author
Their calendar was divided into 12 months of 30 days each. This base-60 system was utilized further to divide the hour into 60 minutes and the minute into 60 seconds. Base-10 societies, like the U.S., have adapted to this 4,400 year-old creation.

If we place issues that we examine at the center of the circle we have the opportunity to examine the issue from many different perspectives--increasing our ability to fully understand what we are seeing or experiencing. Greater understanding empowers us to improve our lives and the world that we live in.

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