29 hours of 17 minutes apiece

aaronsun666

Senior Member
Mandarin
The Big Bang Theory Season 02, Episode 20

( The gang has a fixed agenda with every day of each week as to what they eat, what they do. Then one day comes this idea that changes what they would conventionally eat on Thursday, inducing that Sheldon doesn't feel his digestive system can adjust to that)

Howard: Come on, the whole idea behind Anything Can Happen Thursday is to get out of this rut we’ve been in lately.
Sheldon:Rut? I think you mean consistency.
And if we’re going to abandon that, then why even call it Thursday? Let’s call it Quonko Day and divide it into 29 hours of 17 minutes apiece, and celebrate it by sacrificing a goat to the mighty god Ra.

What's "29 hours of 17 minutes apiece"?
 
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  • Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Although I can assume what he's talking about, and probably give you a correct answer, how about you providing some context and background so we know what he's discussing?
     

    aaronsun666

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    Thank you for the reply, Teddy.

    How could you tell "each day should be divided into 29 hours, possibly of equal length; and each hour will last 17 minutes."?
    If I were Sheldon, I probably would say this way, divide it into 29 hours with 17 minutes apiece. Why use "of" instead of "with"? I don't get it.

    "Reductio ad absurdum" this saying appeared once in Season 01 of this TV series. I knew it.
     
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    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    They want to get out of a routine. The suggestion is that they eat differently on Thursday. Sheldon says that if they want to get out of a rut they might as well change everything - change the name of the day, change the number of hours in the day, change the number of minutes in an hour, and make a sacrifice to an ancient Egyptian god.

    29 hours of 17 minutes apiece = 29 hours, each one 17 minutes long. A normal day is 24 hours of 60 minutes apiece. It is normal to use 'of' in this way - an hour of 60 minutes, a battalion of 500 men, a pack of 52 cards, a city of 10,000 houses. None of those would normally use 'with'.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    "a day of 29 hours of 17 minutes apiece" = "a day of 29 hours of 17 minutes for each hour." -> Apiece = per piece = per unit -> each

    I am selling apples at £1 apiece = I am selling apples at £1 for each apple. -> Apiece = per piece = per unit -> each
     

    aaronsun666

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    Thank you very much, Andygc, your explanation as to Sheldon's logic and the preposition choice of 'of' made perfect sense!

    Thanks for clearing out my confusion, PaulQ. Big help!
     
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    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It's off topic but the phrase is "reductio ad absurdum." It is Latin and the ancient Romans didn't have a word "reduction."

    Incidentally there is mathematical humour in what Sheldon says. This is because 29 and 17 are both prime numbers and therefore would be an illogical choice.
     
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