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This question already has an answer here:

What would calendars and our concept of time be like if there were no astronomical cues? If we lived in perpetual daylight and perpetual summer. The Sun, Moon, and stars are all fixed in the sky. There's no tides, no seasons, no night. No physical cycles.

What would it look like at various stages of technological evolution? Hunter-gatherer, agricultural, industrial, information. What would each need to keep track of without tides, seasons, and night, and how would they keep track?

This is an exercise in removing the astronomical cycles from time-keeping and seeing what's left. Don't worry about the rest, physics implications, how humans evolved, etc... Think of it like a video game, or an RPG setting where it always seems to be the same time of day and the same season; where the world is flat and surrounded by an impassible ocean.

What other cycles are available? Humans and animals still need sleep, but on what cycle? Without seasons, will animals still migrate on a regular cycle in search of food? Crops have a fairly fixed time between being sown and being harvested, will that need time-keeping, or will "the corn looks ready to harvest" be enough?

How do people coordinate in space and time? How do people know when to meet to work or build or socialize or gather an army? When railroads are invented, how do they make their schedules?

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marked as duplicate by Separatrix, Frostfyre, Cort Ammon, ShadoCat, dot_Sp0T Aug 20 '18 at 21:13

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  • $\begingroup$ Do you also imply "do not worry if permanent daylight makes life impossible"? $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Aug 20 '18 at 19:08
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    $\begingroup$ There is really no need for Hunter Gatherer and Agricultural societies to even have a calendar in this situation in our history we invented theese things to track the seasons. without that why would you bother? $\endgroup$ – Ummdustry Aug 20 '18 at 19:15
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with @Separatrix that this looks like a duplicate. Also, worth considering: you mention several stages of our technological evolution. If you dramatically change the universe like this, you may find that we take an entirely different path. The brain is a very adaptable mechanism, especially over a few hundred million years. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Aug 20 '18 at 19:15
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    $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs Yes, animals still need to sleep roughly the same amount as now, but the schedule is up to you. $\endgroup$ – Schwern Aug 20 '18 at 19:28
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    $\begingroup$ I can answer one part: without seasons, there is no need to plan crops nor for animals to migrate. The conditions are the same all year long, so the foodstuffs will be the same all year long. This sort of thing does indeed happen in the equatorial regions, where the seasons are relatively benign. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Aug 20 '18 at 19:38
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At the risk of appearing flip, I don't think you WOULD have a Calendar in the scenario you described. The whole concept of a calendars grew from the requirement to predict in advance when seasons were going to change for agricultural and pastoral purposes. Without seasons, there's no external structure on which to build one and, more importantly, no reason I can think of for anybody to want one. Not a universally applied one, at any rate.

What you might have is certain professions having calendars for specific purposes, but they'd all be different, to fit very specialized needs, and there wouldn't be any incentive for anybody outside those professions to adopt them.

An example that comes to mind offhand might be fishermen. Although you don't have seasons, you WOULD have ocean currents driven by the Coriolis force and by temperature variations between tropical and arctic latitudes. Although without seasons there's no reason for birds to migrate, you would still have migratory whales and fish that breed and give birth in warm waters, and feed in colder waters which tend to have more abundance of food. These creatures could have migratory patterns driven by their own life cycles, and fishermen would need to know in advance when to go looking for them.

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Graduated candles, water clocks, and eventually mechanical clocks. What time periods they choose are arbitrary. Their equivalents of seconds, minutes, hours and days will be divided up differently than ours. They will likely divide their time based on their sleep cycles, so their "day" would be about as long as ours. But their "hours" "minutes" and "seconds" are arbitrary. They will have a class of people whose job it is to make sure the clocks run smoothly. Who light new graduated candles, refill water clocks, and wind up mechanical clocks. This is good enough for scheduling purposes, it doesn't really matter much if a few minutes get added or lost here and there. There's no solar time to contradict social time, so it'll be difficult to really notice.

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  • $\begingroup$ "their "day" would be about as long as ours". Why? Our biorhythm is tuned around the 24 hours day we experience on Earth. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Aug 21 '18 at 3:05
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, but the question refers to humans, not aliens that evolved on this world. He didn't specifically say this but I think its safe to assume that these humans are biologically identical to real humans, considering this question is more about how time-keeping works than what effects having the described cosmology would have. $\endgroup$ – Ryan_L Aug 21 '18 at 3:53
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I'd posit that people in such a world would have no need for calendars at all (not even fishermen) because they most likely have no broad sense of time passing.

Since all lifeforms in this world have evolved within this world since its Beginning, there are no light & dark photosynthetis, no nocturnal animals and no predictable patterns in Nature. All animals and peoples in this world are dirunal by nature. They sleep when they're tired; they wake up when they're rested. Plants do everything during light photosynthesis.

Re fishermen: I don't think they could devise a calendar because they have no sense of time to compare the migrations of fishes in the sea to. No reference points, you see. For us, all we have to do is keep track of the number of sunrises and within a couple three years you can devise a fairly accurate calendar that accounts for lunar cycles, seasons, years, weather trends, migrations and the like. They have no days to count and no external cycles to compare events with. They might notice that there are fishing expeditions that bring back a good catch of that fish, and other expeditions that don't bring back such a nice catch. But they wouldn't be able to express the stretches of time that form the intervals.

This means that other rhythmic events (heartbeat being probably the most reliable) will also not be expressible in terms of time.

I suspect that not only will they have no calendars, but also that their music would be non-rhythmic, perhaps sort of like the music of a wind chime or aeolian harp; and that their languages will have no tenses (past, future, etc., because all experience is NOW, an ever-present and timeless time; there will certainly be no temporal idioms.

If they had a calendar, you know, with like pithy wise sayings for every day, it would look like this:

Unchanging World Calendar

Yep. Every page identical with the word "NOW" written on it; every day the same pithy wise saying: "Be Happy NOW".

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They would be keeping track of the timing of something that is critical to their way of life or even their survival. Some possible divisions would be related to their major crop lifecycles or the migration patterns of their major prey animals. Edit-- The gestation period of the people would also make a handy cycle.

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  • $\begingroup$ That's the real question he's asking though, is what things would remain that are critical and need to be tracked without seasons and lunar cycles. $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Aug 20 '18 at 20:45
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, keeping track of things like growing cycles or predicting the return of your food. Once those things are part of your concept of time in the hunter/gatherer or agriculture part of your civilization, the inertia would carry that into later parts of technological advancement. $\endgroup$ – Futoque Aug 20 '18 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ without seasons, you don't have growing cycles, and you don't have seasonal migrations either. That's the real thought exercise here, is without any of that, what's left. $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Aug 20 '18 at 20:53
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    $\begingroup$ My 'corn' takes x time to grow. My 'beans' take y time to grow. My 'squash' takes z time to grow. If I want to time them to harvest together or stagger them, I need a time keeping system to predict when they are ready so I don't overload my harvesters. The 'deer' take x time to eat all of the 'grass' in my area. They move in a large circle around the village and move along when they have eaten all of the grass. That period is, say, 8x. It is not a seasonal migration, it is how fast the 'grass' grows. $\endgroup$ – Futoque Aug 20 '18 at 20:58

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