Last week The Time Bandits stole an hour of our sleep. I slept for 7 hours and The Time Bandits told me I slept for 8 and it was time to get up. Somewhere an hour just disappeared. I’m really not sure where it went but they promise me they will return it next October. On the day before the Time Bandits struck a few of my co-workers returned from a trade show in Las Vegas. They arrived back in Tulsa at 10 pm Tulsa time. Due to the time zones, their watches said it was 8 pm. Then that evening, The Time Bandits struck and some how my friends lost three hours of sleep. Where did those three hours go?
The definition of time is “the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present and future regarded as a whole”. What? It sounds really important. “Progress of existence”, that seems REALLY important. I do like to exist. So this time thing sounds like a big deal but I have no idea what that definition really means. “The continued progress of events in the past”, If they are in the past and they are progressing that means they are in the future, but if they are in the future how were they in the past? I’m confused.
Scientist and smart people who understand all of this, of which I am not one, say that time is retaliative to gravity and speed. It all ties into that Einstein fellows, E=mc2. Time for the individual does not change, it’s relative (Guess that’s why it’s called the theory of relativity). A person on mountain top with lower gravity would appear to age faster than a man in the valley with greater gravity to an independent observer, yet to each person they would age at an equal pace (I think the independent observer is in Colorado and trying some of their new legalized products). To take it one step further, if an individual stayed on the International Space Station (REAL low gravity), when they returned to Earth, they would appear to aged faster than those of us who stayed. If you add in speed, a person traveling VERY fast in a rocket and then returning would appear to age slower than those left on Earth. The faster you go the slower you appear to age to those not traveling with you. So we have found the fountain of youth, go very fast or find a place with lots of gravity. I’m so confused. Let’s try to stay earth-bound and look at this time thing.
The world is sliced up into independently drawn “time zones” This makes sense. We know when the sun rises in New York it is still dark in LA. It wouldn’t make sense if it was 7:30 in both places. The people in LA would be going to work in the dark and wouldn’t sun wouldn’t set for them until 10 pm. The farther west you went the bigger the problem. Time zones corrects this problem. They make time retaliative to sunrise and sunset. I imagine it might be a little strange if you lived on one of the dividing lines. You could cross the street and it would be an hour difference in time. I would never be to a meeting on time if I lived there. The whole time zone thing starts in Greenwich England. They are at the zero longitude line. As you move west from there clocks are adjusted one hour at each time zone border. The borders are drawn so they don’t split individual towns but I still wouldn’t want to live on one of the lines.
Coordinated Universal Time is the standard the world uses for our clocks. This is the “time” that we all set our clocks to. It combines two elements. There are 200 VERY, VERY accurate atomic clocks that make up the International Atomic Time, the first element of Coordinated Universal Time. These clock keep near perfect time and are the standard for the world. Okay this part of the time thing makes sense. But wait, there is one more element of our “clock” time. The clock time is based on the rotation of the earth. This allows our clock time to relate to sunrise and sunset. That makes sense too. The problem is that the earths rotation is slowing. Every rotation it slows a little more. We are talking millionths of second but over years it adds up. If we just used the atomic clocks, at some point sunrise would be at noon. The smart people figured this out and added another element to their standard, Universal Time. It uses astronomy to keep track of the earths rotation and provides on-going hundredths of a second adjustments to the atomic time keepers. This allows noon to stay noon and sunrise to stay in the morning.
So that brings us to Daylight Savings Time. If things weren’t confusing enough. daylight savings time was first proposed by George Vernon Hudson in 1895. It was first implemented by Germany and Austria-Hungary on April 30, 1916. The primary goal was to save energy by reducing usage of lighting by prolonging the period of daylight in the evening. It also allowed for greater activities in the evening with the prolonged daylight. It is traditionally implemented in the spring and stopped in the fall. Most countries around the globe follow daylight savings time. There is no rule of when they start or when they stop so each country may have a different day that it goes in effect. In the United States, Arizona and Hawaii do not even participate. Now that could really get confusing.
So the Time Bandits swiped the hour from us last week (unless you were in Arizona, I should have slept there that night.) Kids are now waiting in the dark at the bus stop. Everyone is finding it harder to get to sleep on time at night. Waking up is just a little harder. SO WHY DO WE DO IT????? I know the energy conservation angle is the best answer but there are no studies to show that it really is reducing electric usage and even if it does with the added daylight we are all out there driving around more using more gasoline. I think it is one of those things that we just have always done it this way. For some it might be the perception that we are controlling time. We might think we are but I don’t seem to be aging any slower in the summer time. Time tells us when to get up, when to go to sleep, when we need to arrive and leave from work, when we eat and on an on. Time controls our life, or maybe not controls but guides our life. Without it life would be chaos. I just wished we would realize that we can’t control time and leave it alone.
It’s 7 am right now which would have been 6 am a week ago. I think I am going to get some more sleep.