Amazing time unit ‘flick’ invented by Facebook
Facebook programmers released the new unit, known as a flick, on their open source page. It’s solving a shockingly fundamental problem in how computer code deals with video, specifically their frame rates.
What is a flick?
A flick is one-seven hundred and five million six hundred thousandth of a second — 1/705,600,000 if you prefer the digits, or 1.417233560090703e-9 if you prefer decimals.
Why is that useful?
As a hint, here’s a list of numbers into which 1/705,600,000 divides evenly: 1/8, 1/16, 1/22.05, 1/24, 1/25, 1/30, 1/32, 1/44.1, 1/48, 1/50, 1/60, 1/90, 1/100, 1/120. Notice a pattern?
Even if you don’t work in media production, some of those numbers probably look familiar. That’s because they’re all framerates or frequencies used in encoding or showing things like films and music. 24 frames per second, 120 hertz TVs, 44.1 KHz sample rate audio.
Many of these fractions resolve into inconvenient decimal series, necessitating shorthand or estimations. For instance, the 1/24th of a second around which the entire film industry is based on is equal to 0.0416666666666666… on and on forever (even attempting to use nanoseconds to represent these durations ends up creating fractions of nanoseconds). So it may be abbreviated for convenience to 0.04167. Easier to remember, but not numerically exact, and who knows when that “extra” value might break something.
On the other hand, using flicks almost all these important fractional frequencies turn into nice exact round numbers, no bars or estimation needed: 1/24th of a second, for instance, is 29,400,000 flicks. 1/120th is 5,880,000 flicks. 1/44,100th is 16,000 flicks.