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Units of time

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Transformers, being extraterrestrials, are often overheard stating measurements in units that are unfamiliar to humans. Further, Transformers in different universes often use different units for measurement, and sometimes even use the same unit name but define it differently. Following is a list of units of time that Cybertronians have been observed using.

Specific unit definitions

Name Duration Description
Astrosecond≈.273 secondsDefined by the Generation One cartoon episode Transport to Oblivion. In the initial script (available in the SHOUT! Season 1 DVD), astroseconds were not used. Instead, Shockwave defines the time until the next space bridge launch window as occurring in 183 minutes. When the scene was broadcast, the line was changed to "3000 astroseconds", the first usage of the time unit. Dividing 3,000 astroseconds by 183 minutes (or 10,980 seconds), the end result is 1 astrosecond per ≈.273224 Earth seconds.
Astrosecond.498 secondsDefined by Dreamwave's More Than Meets The Eye #8 as 1/1000th of a breem. Astroseconds as referenced in the Generation One cartoon seem to be much shorter, but were never defined. In particular, in "Divide and Conquer" Shockwave states that the space bridge will materialize within 72 billion astroseconds, an interval exceeding a millennium if Dreamwave's definition is applied. Even ignoring this extreme case, astroseconds in general cartoon use appeared to be much less than one second each.
Breem8.3 minutesOriginally defined in the Marvel Comics, also used in Dreamwave's comics.
Century???In the Transformers Animated premiere, "Transform and Roll Out!", several references are made to the Great Wars ending "centuries ago", all prior to first contact between Transformers and Earth. This is probably a case of dialogue being written for human observers rather than indicating the existence of a "Cybertronian century", but it is included here for completeness. Similarly, the history video at the very beginning of the episode refers to "millions of years", an Earth unit. It is unclear how this time should be interpreted. Starscream also refers to the search for the All Spark as lasting "centuries", which is at odds with Megatron's own statement that it has been "four million solar cycles" (see below).
Cycle (Animated)≈1 minuteIn "Rise of the Constructicons", Bumblebee asks Prime if he can take a coolant break. Prime responds that he just had a break "two cycles ago". From this it sounds as if a cycle is relatively short -- less than a day, certainly -- but its actual duration is unclear. In "Black Friday", Prowl challenges Bumblebee to stay quiet for "ten cycles", and he talks 30 to 40 seconds later. Prowl then informs Bumblebee that he managed to stay quiet for "barely half a cycle", implying that it is close to a minute.
Cycle (G1 UK comics)2 hoursIn the United Kingdom Generation One comic story, "Target 2006", Ultra Magnus timed his mission on Earth in Cycles that were exactly equal to 2 hours.
Cycle (Beast Wars)≈1 minuteBeast Wars cartoon story editors Bob Forward and Larry DiTillio stated that the "cycles" used in their series were very roughly equivalent to a minute. Maybe more, maybe less, but something of that order of magnitude.
Cycle (IDW comics)1 hour 15 minutes (1.25 hours)Defined for use in the IDW universe by Simon Furman in a forum post.[1]
Decacycle (Animated)1 decadeIn "Fistful of Energon", Ultra Magnus calls to report that Starscream has escaped. He says that it happened "a decacycle ago", and that he would have called sooner but their tachyon transmitter was missing. In "Where Is Thy Sting", Sentinel Prime states that they had not heard from Optimus Prime's team in nearly a decacycle. Also, in The Rise of Safeguard, Perceptor tells Ultra Magnus that the reformatting, upgrading and other changes that needed to be made to the twins Jetfire and Jetstorm would take nearly a decacycle. If the cycle is any where similar to the metric system then it is likely that the decacycle consists of 10 cycles, 10 minutes. (The spelling, without a hyphen, comes from closed captions and differs from the Beast Wars spelling.)
Deca-cycle (Beast Wars)≈1 yearAs with the Beast Wars cycle, this unit is on the order of a year, as defined by the series's story editors.
Deca-cycle (IDW comics)≈3 weeksDefined for use in the IDW universe by Simon Furman in a forum post.
Groon~1 hourRoughly equivalent to an hour. In "The Magnificent Six!", Megadeath let his broken Autobot prisoners go with a neutronic blast imminent in two groons. Retelling this event to Silverbolt in 1990, Jazz described the time as two hours.
JoorHour / ???Used idiomatically like "hour", but of unknown duration. In "The Magnificent Six!", Steamhammer had an inspection parade scheduled at 0700 joors, not long after Cybertron's lunar dawn.
Klik1.2 minutesDefined for use in the IDW universe by Simon Furman in a forum post.
Megacycle (Animated)≈1 day or ≈1 hourIn "Lost and Found" Ratchet estimated that it would take 10 mega-cycles to repair the Autobots' ship even with the help of the Key. The Autobots seemed to consider this to be a moderately long time, but not so long for it to be unrealistic that they might repair the ship before the Decepticons come at them in force. Later, in "Rise of the Constructicons", Bulkhead defends the Constructicons' behavior, asserting that "they've been online two, three megacycles tops." Thus, the megacycle may be daylike in duration, but this is quite uncertain. (The spelling, without a hyphen, comes from closed captioning and differs from the Beast Wars spelling.)
Mega-cycle (Beast Wars)≈1 hourAs with the Beast Wars cycle, this unit is on the order of an hour, as defined by the series' story editors. Used incongruously in "The Agenda (Part 1)" to refer to a much longer span of time. (One of the Tripredacus Council says, "His ship and the Axalon both vanished last megacycle. The Maximal probes never found them.") Ben Yee cites a statement from DiTillio that another unit—the deca-cycle—is roughly year-like in length.[2] This may be the unit that was intended for that line of dialogue.
Mega-cycle (IDW comics)93 hoursDefined for use in the IDW universe by Simon Furman in a forum post.
Meta-cycle13 monthsDefined for use in the IDW universe by Simon Furman in a forum post.
Milli-cycle???A unit of undetermined duration. It was often mentioned since Episode 6 in Beast Wars cartoon.
Nanoclick (Animated)≈1 second / 1 minute In "Home Is Where the Spark Is", Optimus Prime enters Prowl's quarters asking, "Prowl, got a nanoclick?" Also, in "Fistful of Energon" Lockdown tells Prowl to "Wait a nanoclick." Idiomatically, then, this nanoclick is similar to either the English unit "second" or "minute", although its actual length is unknown. (The spelling of this unit comes from closed captions and differs from the Beast Wars spelling.) In Nanosec Ratchet said the Destronium was going to blow up in 30 nanoclicks so it is most likely to be seconds.
Nano-klik (Beast Wars)≈1 secondAs with the Beast Wars cycle, this unit is on the order of a second, as defined by the series' story editors. Used similarly in IDW comics.
Orbital Cycle≈1 dayIn A Bridge Too Close, Part I, Starscream, after hearing all his clones, mutters to himself: "This is going to be a LONG orbital cycle", in reference to the phrase: "This is going to be a LONG day."
Orn13 days[citation needed]A unit of undetermined duration. It is apparently defined as "one Cybertronian lunar day". (By the time an Orn was used and defined, Cybertron had been retconned to have two moons. Which moon was being used in reference to the time unit?)
Quartex???A unit of undetermined duration. In the very first Transformers cartoon episode, "More Than Meets the Eye, Part 1", Wheeljack complains that the shoddy energy conductors he and Bumblebee picked up don't have enough juice in them to last a quartex, so make of that what you will.
Solar cycle (Animated)≈1 yearIn "Transform and Roll Out!, Part 1", Megatron says he has spent "the last four million solar cycles searching the galaxy" for the All Spark. The parallel to Generation One's famous "four million years" implies that this unit is meant to be year-like. In "Part 3" Starscream refers to the 50-years of searching between the battle where "he defeated Megatron" and the present as 50 solar cycles, cementing this definition. In "Part 2", Optimus Prime and Ratchet have an exchange in which they use "solar cycle" in a way that is a better idiomatic match for "day" than "year", but, "year" can still work in that case. ("Stellar cycle" has also been used, but appears to be the same unit; see below.)
Solar cycle (Beast Machines)≈1 dayIn the Beast Machines episode "The Weak Component", Rattrap uses the term "half a solar cycle" to describe the amount of time the Maximal would leave Megatron alone in order to regain his strength: one night, from dusk-to-dawn.
Stellar cycle (Animated)≈1 yearIn the Animated episode "Along Came a Spider", Blackarachnia says that her accident occurred "a thousand stellar cycles" ago. Further, in "Megatron Rising - Part II" Megatron refers to both "fifty stellar cycles" and "four million stellar cycles", synching up with previous references to solar cycles. Thus, stellar cycle is apparently synonymous with solar cycle in this continuity. It is possible that while solar cycles refer to a unit of time based on a planet's rotation around the sun, a stellar cycle is a roughly equivalent universal standard used by the Transformers, who inhabit multiple planets with doubtless varying solar years.
Stellar cycle (Beast Wars)≈400 daysOrbital period (a Cybertronian "year") for Cybertron as stated by Larry DiTillio in information sent to Ben Yee. DiTillio also volunteers that Cybertron's rotational period (a "day") is ≈20 hours.
Stellar cycle (IDW comics)≈7.5 monthsDefined for use in the IDW universe by Simon Furman in a forum post.
Trimara???Used in Transformers: Beast Wars: The Ascending #2. Likely "3" of something, but who knows what.
Vorn83 yearsOriginally defined in the Marvel Comics, also used in Dreamwave's comics.
Lightyear(a very long time)Used exclusively in the Unicron Trilogy, a lightyear is an epochal unit of time.[1][2][3][4]

References

  1. Actually, in real life, a "lightyear" is a unit of distance; specifically, the distance light travels in a year, which is approximately 5.87849981 × 10^{12} miles.
  2. A unique digital entity came into being lightyears ago, and created the Transformers. First Encounter
  3. Omega Supreme fought Unicron Lightyears before Optimus Prime's autobots even existed. Omega Supreme
  4. Judging by the fact that a lightyear is a unit of distance not time and the poor dub quality of Armada and Energon this is probably just an error in the dub.

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