Where Will the New Millennium Begin?

Math Chat

Millennium challenge

Assuming the third millennium arrives on January 1, 2001, where on Earth should the celebration begin?


Because of different time zones, the third millennium will arrive earlier in Europe than in North America, still earlier in Japan (that is why it is called "Land of the Rising Sun"), and so on until you hit the International Date Line. The South Pacific island of Tonga, situated in an eastward bulge of the date line, has claimed the millennium will begin there. Chatham Island, in an odd time zone, follows just 15 minutes behind.

A new claim to be first was recently established by the Kiribati Islands when President Teburoro Tito decreed a relocation of the date line eastward around their boundary. Previously, the islands were split by the date line, with a different date in each half.

Aubrey Dunne suggests that the town of Anadyr in the Russian Far East might be another, if somewhat colder option. Some other sources, including Sherry McBridge at the Chamber of Commerce in Nome, Alaska, report that the actual current time zone for Anadyr runs farther behind, so the millennium will appear later there. Also, since it will be the middle of winter in the northern hemisphere, Anadyr will lack the advantage of daylight saving time, which many southern hemisphere locations will employ, especially if it brings them the millennium first.

In any case, the first sizable city to see the new millennium will be Auckland, New Zealand, and the last to see the old millennium go will be Honolulu, Hawaii. It is hard to get definitive information, and I am hoping to hear more from readers.

Dave Gay proposes we celebrate a new year at the dawn of the new day, and suggests that the celebration should take place in New Zealand on the mountaintop that receives the first light of the third millennium. Actually, as Luke Somers suggests, the day dawns sooner farther south, and at New Zealand's Scott Base on Antarctica, the sun is already up at midnight.

Slightly different from the third millennium but still worth celebrating are the 2000s, which arrive on January 1, 2000, as the 1900s end on December 31, 1999. This change in date causes problems for computers: They interpret '00 as 1900, as described in a recent Monitor article (Feb. 21, Page 4).

New challenge (thanks to Norman Goodwin)

A photographer wants to line up the 11 members of the Goodwin family from shortest to tallest (left to right), starting with anyone, adding someone else on either side, and continuing by always adding someone next to those already assembled. How many different ways are there of doing this? (One way is to start with the shortest and work your way up. There are lots of ways that start in the middle.)

Send answers, comments, and new questions to:

Math Chat

Bronfman Science Center

Williams College

Williamstown, MA 01267

or by e-mail to:


to be eligible for "Flatland" and other book awards.

Math Chat is now available at http://www.csmonitor.com/emonitor/ our_place/science/science.html

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
QR Code to Where Will the New Millennium Begin?
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today