Facebook is taking a different approach to solving a problem faced by video editors, visual effects artists, and programmers: they're inventing a new unit of time. Hopefully, this will help solve a peculiar issue.
The fundamental problem is this: visual effects artists, programmers, and the like often need to work with very small time scales, so small that they often work in nanoseconds. The problem is that nanoseconds don't divide nicely into standard frame rates or audio sampling rates, which in turn leads to some tricky issues when coding and working on such projects, with frame rates drifting slightly out of sync with timing clocks. To solve this, Facebook introduced the "flick," or 1/705,600,000 of a second. The math savvy will notice that this is simply the reciprocal of the least common multiple of all of the common frame rates and sampling rates, but the beauty is that this means every frame rate and sampling rate included in this calculation is now represented by an exact integer when given in flicks. This makes the flick the smallest unit of time larger than a nanosecond with that property. The benefit is that it eliminates rounding errors that propagate over time and keeps everything exactly aligned, which would theoretically eliminate a lot of headaches for its users.
Lead image by Pixabay user Felix_Hu, used under Creative Commons.