Monday, November 2, 2009

The Day Time Began

A construction crew in 1885 at Green River in the Cascades

It has long been established that there are twenty-four hours in a day. I’ll bet you think that there is some big scientific reason for there to be a twenty-four hour day don’t you? Nope.. Ha, Ha! No reason whatsoever. In fact, the reason for a twenty-four hour day is nebulous. I used the word “nebulous” because some theories say that time is related to the stars and "nebulas", and that there are twelve signs of the zodiac. But, you say “wait a minute… Aren’t there twenty-four hours in a day?”
Yep, but there are twelve hours in a day, and twelve hours in a night. That totals twenty-four.

Some think that a Greek astronomer by the name of Hipparchus established the length of an hour. Before that, a day was measured from daylight until dark and divided it by twelve. Twelve evenly measured hours of daylight and twelve evenly measured hours of night. So when the daylight days got longer so did the hours, and of course the nighttime hours got shorter. But, there were still twelve hours of daylight and twelve hours of dark, for a twenty-four hour day. Hipparchus said that it was just too confusing, so he established twenty-four sixty minute hours in a day.

But why did they use the number twelve? It is reasoned that it might have come from the Sumerians, who used a twelve based number system. Also, if you hold up four fingers, each finger has three segments, and four times three equals twelve. We count on ten fingers, and the Sumerians counted the finger segments, for twelve. We both started by counting on our fingers, but we did it differently. The Sumerians could count the daylight hours on one hand and the night-time hours on the other, for a total of twenty-four hours. Those Sumerians were clever.

People that study time, and timekeepers like clocks and watches, are called “Horologists”. Who’d uh thought!

Early in the United States history, time was established by the town, or city that you lived in. Usually it was established by one central person, like the man that maintained the town clock. Clocks were usually great in size and kept in public places. Like the clock in the town square of the church steeple. The town time was established with a Sundial. So, high-noon was set on the town clock at Twelve-O’Clock. If you set your watch and traveled to a community to your west, the time would change by how far that you traveled. High-noon is at a different time in different communities. The further west that you go, the later that your watch will fall behind. If you set your watch in New York, and you traveled across the United States to San Francisco, your watch would be three hours late. Each town that you went through on your way would read a few minutes earlier than your watch. But, each village was happy with their time.

As you are probably already guessing, the railroads found the need to have accurate, well established time zones, because every town having it's own time was just too confusing. Mostly they wanted the trains to pass each other on side-rails at a well establish and accurate times, rather than have head on collisions. So the United States and Canada established Time Zones and accurate time keeping. On November 18th 1883, the United states and Canada established five time zones. Trains ran on time, and the railroads were the standard for accurate time keeping. Some communities stuck to their own time for a while, but soon they saw how practical it would be for everyone to be on the same time schedule. I remember as a child, when somebody wanted an accurate time, they asked; "What time is it, in Railroad time?" That meant that they wanted the right time, including the minutes.

On March 19th 1918, they established what they called the standard time act, they established a "Daylight Savings time." ... So much for simplicity. Now, in the place of arguing over which town had the correct time. They could argue whether or not each town would adopt the savings time. As you know, some did and some didn't, so the confusion and arguments about the correct time that were once settled for all time (pun) were back on again. As you might have guessed, I don't like the Daylight Savings Time" change. It only confuses things and doesn't really change a thing.

When an old Indian gentleman was asked what he thought about Daylight Savings Time he said: "The white man thinks he can cut off one end of a blanket and sew it to the other and thinks he has more blanket." As soon as I remember who said that I'll post it.


Tom Sebourn said...

I hate Daylight Savings Time. As a programmer that has to deal with live programming from around the country, it can be difficult. I had to record a show from Arizona during spring training. The first show was a week before we jumped ahead. The next three were after the time change. I was given local Arizona time for the audio feeds. Arizona time? What the hell time is it in Arizona? Are they the same as California? An hour behind? They don't do daylight savings time I am told.

I am told them to get me a live L.A. or New York time and went from there.
It is a pain in the ass.

Tom Sebourn said...

There is an extra am in that last paragraph.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Personally, I can't imagine why we wouldn't all be better off by not having the time changes. The most popular opinion for the time change is because our children would have to go to school in the dark if it weren't changed.

Give me a break! The educators should be able to figure it out. These people are in charge of our children's education and they are not smart enough to change the school schedule to accommodate daylight hours??? So, the rest of the world has to change their time, willy-nilly, to keep our kids safe? Who should we be protecting them from? The Dark? Monsters? Or idiots that can't change their schedules?

Ernie Branscomb said...

OOPS! I should say that my anger and frustration should be directed appropriately toward the idiots in education, and not the majority of educators, who are fine, wise, and caring people that educate our children to grow up and become fine upstanding, contributing, members of society.

I’m glad that I caught that, before anyone else!

Anonymous said...

It that what our educators do Ernie. Teach our kids to be fine upstanding contributing members of society? I thought that came from the parents but I could be wrong.
By the way, I hate daylight savings time also. I'm always up before daylight but DST still irratates me.