This Is Not A Drill: Facebook Has Invented a New Unit of Time
Okay, in all seriousness, this is actually a really cool thing that has the potential to make video and audio production way easier for programmers.
We've launched Flicks, a unit of time, slightly larger than a nanosecond that exactly subdivides media frame rates and sampling frequencies. https://t.co/w9SDBznXRE— Facebook Open Source (@fbOpenSource) January 22, 2018
According to the GitHub page on flicks, a flick is "the smallest time unit which is LARGER than a nanosecond". If you want to get technical, one flick equals 1/705,600,000 of a second. This figure can be equally divided into the numbers of framerates or sampling frequencies used in video and audio production, such as 25Hz and 44.1kHz.
Basically, flicks can be used to measure individual frame duration for video framerates in whole numbers without resorting to the use of estimated decimals. They were designed because the most exact timing possible in the C++ programming language is nanoseconds, which doesn't divide evenly into the majority of frame rates.
CNET provides an example of how flicks can be applied in the practical sense:
In a game that displays at 60 frames per second, software gets a time budget of 16.6667 milliseconds (rounded to the nearest microsecond) to figure out how to paint thousands of pixels worth of moving aliens, race tracks, tanks or trolls onto the screen. It's not just games: web browsers, word processors and other software need to pay attention to these slices of time to make sure scrolling and animations stay smooth.
But it's a pain talking about 16.667 milliseconds, and even with slivers of time a billionth of a second long, programs can suffer from rounding errors. The flick is a 1/705,600,000th of a second, which Facebook concluded is a nice [sic] foundation for many different measurements.
Major props to the team headed by Christopher Horvath who is responsible for this fantastic idea. We can almost hear the programmers in the world letting out a sigh of gratitude.