Sunday, March 8, 2009

Let's not think about the Passing Time

Here is some information on Daylight Savings. In the old days, before everyone used clocks, people adjusted to the light and dark routinely. Did you know that back in the Roman Empire, the water clocks adjusted time according to the time of the year? And that, during a visit to France, Ben Franklin said: "Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise," because he was tired of Parisians sleeping into the late mornings. In 1905 William Willett proposed DST so that Londoners wouldn't sleep away the day. But, DST does not change people's habits, or does it? Comments?

From Wikipedia:
The practice is controversial. Adding daylight to afternoons benefits retailing, sports, and other activities that exploit sunlight after working hours, but causes problems for farming, entertainment and other occupations tied to the sun. Traffic fatalities are reduced when there is extra afternoon daylight; its effect on health and crime is less clear. Although an early goal of DST was to reduce evening usage of incandescent lighting, formerly a primary use of electricity, modern heating and cooling usage patterns greatly differ, and research about how DST currently affects energy use is limited and often contradictory.

DST's occasional clock shifts present other challenges. They complicate timekeeping and can disrupt meetings, travel, billing, recordkeeping, medical devices, and heavy equipment. Many computer-based systems can adjust their clocks automatically, but this can be limited and error-prone, particularly when DST rules change.

Although not punctual in the modern sense, ancient civilizations adjusted daily schedules to the sun more flexibly than modern DST does, often dividing daylight into twelve equal hours regardless of day length, so that each daylight hour was longer during summer. For example, Roman water clocks had different scales for different months of the year: at Rome's latitude the third hour from sunrise, hora tertia, started by modern standards at 09:02 solar time and lasted 44 minutes at the winter solstice, but at the summer solstice it started at 06:58 and lasted 75 minutes. After ancient times, equal-length civil hours eventually supplanted unequal, so civil time no longer varies by season. Unequal hours are still used in a few traditional settings, such as some Mount Athos monasteries.

Benjamin Franklin suggested firing cannons at sunrise to waken Parisians.
During his time as an American envoy to France, Benjamin Franklin, author of the proverb, "Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise", anonymously published a letter suggesting that Parisians economize on candles by rising earlier to use morning sunlight. This 1784 satire proposed taxing shutters, rationing candles, and waking the public by ringing church bells and firing cannons at sunrise. Franklin did not propose DST; like ancient Rome, 18th-century Europe did not keep accurate schedules. However, this soon changed as rail and communication networks came to require a standardization of time unknown in Franklin's day.

The prominent English builder and outdoorsman William Willett conceived DST in 1905 during a pre-breakfast ride, when he observed with dismay how many Londoners slept through a large part of a summer day. An avid golfer, he also disliked cutting short his round at dusk. His solution was to advance the clock during the summer months, a proposal he published two years later. He lobbied unsuccessfully for the proposal until his death in 1915; see Politics for more details.

Germany, its World War I allies, and their occupied zones were the first European nations to use Willett's invention, starting April 30, 1916. Britain, most of its allies, and many European neutrals soon followed suit. Russia and a few other countries waited until the next year; and the United States adopted it in 1918. Since then, the world has seen many enactments, adjustments, and repeals.

Here is a map of the world showing DST users in blue. The orange shows places that no longer use DST and the red shows places that have never used DST.

Let's not think about the Passing Time - song: My Death, artist: David Bowie covering a Jacques Brel song, album: Ziggy Stardust, the Motion Picture


lytha said...

in our region, the churchbells ring every morning at 7. this does not announce a church service, this is just to get us up.: )

what really complicates things for software developers - there is a week difference between when europe and america change their clocks.


Dan and Betty Cooksey said...

Cool post. Ever since we got our horses I understand how farmers feel about DST. Animals have their routine based on the daylight and their tummies. They could care less what time it is. I would be just as happy to see it done away with.



Tammy said...

I love that they started DST earlier & ended it later (was it just last year?) I don't do well in winter & the short days & lack of sunshine when not working is depressing. I'm sure its purpose did evolve thru the years. Love the extra long evenings summertime gives us!

Fantastyk Voyager said...

Lytha, that's right! Will your time be changing next week then?

Yeah, real time is irrelevant to animals; it's just another stressor for people!

cdncowgirl said...

See that orange rectangle up in North America?? That's me! Saskatchewan... where we leave our clocks the heck alone! lol
Sorry DST never made much sense to me, guess its because I'm from a province that historically is largely agricultural. :)

The Wades said...

It really is an odd practice. I think it's confusing AZ doesn't do it. Let's really confuse ourselves. And,crazy that Europe does it a week later.

I'm just a little miffed at Ben F. for insisting we rise so early. How obnoxious is that?! One of my friends always says, "There are not two six o'clocks in my day!" Can you tell I'm a night owl? It's such torture to get out of bed.

This was a very interesting, informative post.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

I gave up using an alarm clock a few years ago. I can tell myself to wake up at a certain time and I usually do. I like to get up early and stay up late. The only problem with that is I am usually sleep deprived.

Pony Girl said...

Interesting....I love having the extra daylight! But I hate losing the hour of sleep. Everyone at work is cranky this week....

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

DST makes no earthly sense to me. And I'm like Michelle...let me sleep in. I'd just die if I live in Germany....bells ringing at 7am?!

What do people do who work late night or graveyard shifts? Stay up until the bells are finished ringing? gah!