More than 200 years ago Benjamin Franklin coined the now famous dictum that equated passing minutes and hours with shillings and pounds. The new millennium--and the decades leading up to it--has given his words their real meaning. Time has become to the 21st century what fossil fuels and precious metals were to previous epochs. Constantly measured and priced, this vital raw material continues to spur the growth of economies built on a foundation of terabytes and gigabits per second.
An English economics professor even tried to capture the millennial zeitgeist by supplying Franklin's adage with a quantitative underpinning. According to a formula derived by Ian Walker of the University of Warwick, three minutes of brushing one's teeth works out to the equivalent of 45 cents, the compensation (after taxes and Social Security) that the average Briton gives up by doing something besides working. Half an hour of washing a car by hand translates into $4.50.
This article was originally published with the title Real Time.