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I was checking the List of races in Farscape wikipedia article and they refers time as "cycle". continuing my research, I found this vague mention :

Leviathans can live about 300 cycles (slightly longer than 300 Earth years) ...

I searched further and and found the farscape wikia, but it's also quite vague:

A cycle is a measure of time. One cycle is approximately equal to a single Earth year. In lieu of "months", cycles are usually broken down into "half cycle", "quarter cycle", etc. when shorter durations are being discussed.

So, how long is a cycle on earth's standard time?

  • It's never explicitly stated on the show, so any answer will be vague speculation. It is accepted though that a cycle is the galactic equivalent of an Earth year, how equivalent though is unknown. – user4963 Mar 27 '12 at 23:20
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    1 microt = 1.3333 seconds, Crichton corrects himself in an early episode saying 4 minutes = 180 microts. If anyone finds conversions, we can figure it out =D – Izkata Mar 29 '12 at 1:40
  • @user13095 If the answer cannot be more precise, then an acceptable answer could state that. Therefor, the "300 cycles (slightly longer than 300 Earth years)" mention in wikipedia leave me puzzled. – DavRob60 Apr 2 '12 at 13:17
  • Important info, after some googling, earth is ~60 cycles away from Peacekeeper territory if they travel as max speed. – AncientSwordRage Apr 2 '12 at 13:59
  • @Pureferret That's correct, but we don't know where in the Milky Way they are. You can see Orion in the background in a couple of episodes, but that still doesn't tell us much. – user4963 Apr 3 '12 at 23:36
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Farscape was intentionally ambiguous with the precise lengths of its fictional time entries, for much the same reason why Star Trek is ambiguous with what exactly a "stardate" means. However, there are two likely possibilities.


One Cycle could be 366 Solar Days.

The Farscape Solar Day is approximately equal to one earth day, or about 24 arns / ~64,800 microts.

Given that the lesser units are very close to human units (for reasons both meta and story), it isn't a stretch to assume that the cycle was similarly linked to the human time scale. The simplest measure would be to round the uneven number of days in a solar year up (since it's "slightly longer" and not "slightly shorter", we know they didn't round down.) The only question is how far they rounded.

A value of 366 solar days per cycle results in our sample levithan lifespan being 109,800 solar cycles, which is only 225 more than the 109,575 in 300 years.


One Cycle could be 360 Solar Days... with longer Arns.

While an Arn is "about" an hour, a Solar Day is "about" a day, and a Microt is about 4/3 of a second, we don't know how close the variance is for the other items. And, in truth, we don't even know for certain that a Microt is 30% longer than a second; Crichton could have easily adjusted his estimate, rather than do a strict conversion.

It's easy to postulate that the numbers are slightly off in either direction, with a preference for easy divisibility not dictated by adherence to either Terra's solar and lunar cycles or human history. 24 is a good number of segments to divide a day into, as you can evenly split it into 2, 3, or 4 equal periods, and stagger such with effective overlap if you need to. Not so 366 segments of a year, which can only be evenly divided by 2, 3, or 6.

A 360 "day" cycle gets you divisibility by 7 of the 9 single-digit counting numbers after 1, and 12 of the whole numbers between 2 and 20. (There are reasons beyond historical inertial why we use 360 segments to divide circles, after all.) And if a "year" is 360 solar days, and a solar day 24 arns, we are left with a need for a longer arn if we aren't going to lose about 2% of the duration per year.

If you take the 360 - segment idea and carry it downwards, with segments of 60, you can mimic earth-time with a value shift of about 1.014583 for each inferior unit. Increasing a second to a 'microt' that's 1.5% longer, with the same increase for "hours" of about 3,652 seconds (Up from 3600), you wind up with a "year" of about the same length with far easier divisibility.

The precise value-shift would depend on how accurately you define a year -- is it "365.25" earth-days, or "290,097,396,344,952,000 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom." (i.e., rounded up form the SI Second.)

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If 1 microt = 1.33333 seconds, then 1 Earth year = 23,652,000 microts (approx 23.6 million), as opposed to 31,536,000 seconds (those 0.33333s really add up).

Since time and day intervals will vary on every planet, we can only use Earth's, so 1 cycle will be 1.33333 Earth years or 1 year and 4 months (approx).

Without more info (critically which planetary orbit a cycle is based on, assuming it's not an average or arbitrary value), this is as close as I can get.

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    This answer really ignores the stated math. If a cycle were 4/3rds of an earth year, then "300 cycles" would be 400 years, which in no definition could be only "slightly more" than 300 years. – DougM Nov 8 '14 at 6:23
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Its true as SteB said that Season One, Episode 12 gives a more exact answer, saying that 180 microts equals exactly four minutes.

If 180 Microts = 4 minutes. Then there are 45 microts in a minute. If one day = 24 hours and one hour = 60 minutes so one day = 1440 minutes

45 microts x 1440 minutes gives you 64,800 microts in a day.

365 days in a year, so one earth year = 23652000 microts.

Now, if we can get a microt to arn conversion and a arn to cycle conversion perhaps?

Perhaps as I watch I will find another conversion.

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One Cycle Equals 380.4 Earth Days (24 hour span)

I am basing this on the episode 'Til the Blood Runs Clear' (Season 1, episode 11). Crichton is speaking with Furlow, when she states that the flares will return in 'four point eight cycles'. Crichton responds with '5 years'. 5 years is 1,826.25 days. 1,826.25 divided by 4.8 equals 380.46875. Now going by these calculation of Crichtons, a cycle would be the equivalent of 380.47 earth days of 24 hours. I would assume then a Cycle is roughly a year, and 15 and 2/5ths days.

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    Using my calculations, as to the life of a leviathan, 300 cycles would equal roughly 312.6 earth years. – Walter Nelson May 6 '18 at 4:25
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Answer: roughly about 365 days a year unless specified in the show but I don’t think the writers meant the term to be that technical but basically a general term as explained further below.

Reasoning: If you ask one of the shows writers, Ricky Manning, he will tell you that a Froonium Drive is required to calculate that.(Pun intended as his nickname is Ricky “Froonium” Manning.”Froonium” Is the term he uses when writing Syfy jargon to explain something he can explain yet. I believe Chiana is the first to use this word. Season and episode needed) Yes, I know I did not exactly answer your question but it was an authentic “farscape response” which is the charm of the show and it’s writing and creators. Actually, The show is meant to have a not so Rigid attention to every engineering and theoretical detail in my opinion like on Star Trek except for when it comes to worm holes that is and more leaning towards Star Wars and the Cantina scene with all the different random creatures mingling. In Doctor Who speak, I would say “Farscape is a little less timey-whimey than Star Trek and more fish fingers and custard So don’t worry your wide painted faces over it...“

If this was an improv bit and I had to answer the question on the spot, I would say: A cycle is the Length of time of the local star system it takes for a revolution around whatever gravitational pull is keeping it in orbit/shape. I’m assuming that it is similar to an earth cycle as peacemakers are supposedly descendants of humans. However this is where we need the scientist input here, does it even matter how long a cycle is on the planet when you’re traveling in space? When you’re traveling in space technically there is no time so whatever it’s like in space above our planet I’m assuming would be the same In our fictional space in farscape. Therefore, if an astronaut in space where to look at our planet and refer to it cycle, it would refer to a revolution around the sun. Now if an “Arn” is an hour and a microt is a second, then A cycle is 365 by base terms for a peacekeeper brought from earth to the uncharted or charted territories by the ancients living in different solar systems with similar cycles. If I was a show writer, I would answer that each time pilot registers on a star chart where they are, one of his millions of calculations is the ratio of the local star system compared to a 365 bas if I was a show writer, I would answer that each time pilot registers on a star chart where they are, one of his millions of calculations is the ratio of the local star system compared to a 365 base cycle and adjust it ships navigation accordingly for example “bio luminescence off after 10 hours” Anyway, as a huge fan of the show, a sci-fi fan, a filmmaker, and a amateur screenwriter, I hope “about 365“ answers your question because I don’t think they broke it down that technically.

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    This answer seems to be largely based on your own headcanon about what it should be, rather than what those who made the show intended. There's a good answer struggling to get out if you edit this with a heavy axe. – Valorum Jan 28 '18 at 23:29
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It's never specified to the precision you're looking for unfortunately, however it can be narrowed down by a planetary physicist. A cycle is about the same as a year because its an average cycle of seasons which is determined by the planet making a full revolution around the planets star. Since most life supporting planets fall into the habitable or 'golden locks' zone this gives us a min/max time frame...the only problem with this is that the the habitable region is entirely dependant on the size of the star. If you can find the old farscape magazines that scifi produced you should be able to find an article where the writers talked about this...unfortunately all of mine were dropped in a recycling bin when i wasn't there to protect them...

  • This answer is disjointed, confusing, and I can't tell if it addresses the question to any degree of detail. I suggest cleaning up the question to be clearer. – The Fallen Oct 10 '12 at 16:28
  • @SSumner - He means assuming an Earth-like star (and planet), any (without life support) habitable planet must be no closer than X miles and no further away than X miles (an region around the star known as the "Goldilocks zone"). Not really helpful because of all the qualifiers in my simplified explanation (never mind a detailed answer). – SteB Dec 31 '12 at 16:07

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