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Memories of the 28th Century

Standard Time is the Problem

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Once again Daylight Saving Tine is with us, and some people still believe that it does save daylight, or something like that, but most people have found that Daylight Saving Time (DST) is an inconvenience that was foisted upon the world using fallacious reasoning and outright lies. But it may have seemed like a good idea at one time.

To understand the breadth of the problem, we have to look at how it developed. Originally, time was local. Every city and town had its town clock upon which people could see the official time. That was before people moved around at considerable speed. When railroads were devised in the early 1800's things changed. Someone could start the day in one place and end up hundreds of miles away, and even worse people hundreds of miles away expected to known when the train would arrive. The railroads invented their own time, and they ran the rails according to that, but they expected people to know what that was. Eventually, railroad time was adopted by the U.S. as the Standard Time.

One of the oddities of Standard Time is the shape time zones; they are wider than they should be. The Earth rotates at a rate of fifteen degrees every hour, but the Eastern and Central zones are considerably wider. Freeport, Maine 44 degrees; letís round that to 45, and the West coast is about 125 degrees West. That mean that it is about 80 degrees across, and that translates to five and two thirds hours. Eastern and Central zones are almost to hours wide each, while the Mountain and Pacific zones are only about an hour wide. The extra width makes the seasonal changes more notable. It would have been inconvenient for the railroads to have five or six time zones, and the system was designed for their convenience. One of the problems of the times is that they make the distortion of clock time versus Sun time greater.

A lot has changed since the time zones were established in the later 1800's, and one of those changes is that most people carry a cell phone that is in regular contact to an antenna in a tower. The computers that control the cell phone networks are in constant contact with time servers that are tied into the U. S. Navy Observatory, so the phones update the time when necessary, or if someone crosses from one time zone to another. The time setting for each of those towers could be different, and the servers could keep the time accurate and make adjustments for travel. That means that we do not need the time zones anymore; they are obsolete. We can go back to local Sun Time, and every city and town can have its own time, and the clocks could easily match the Sun time, so there would be no reason for so-called daylight saving time, because the distortion would be gone.

Daylight Saving Time was thought of of by Ben Franklin, but he had the wisdom to not even try to put it into use. During World War One it was used, because it was thought that using the Sun for light would save money, and a similar rationale was used for trying it again during World War Two. No one bothered doing a detailed analysis of the matter until much later, and it was discovered that the change in clock time saved almost on electricity, because gains during one part of the day were lost at the other end of the day, and there were major health problems associated with people living by an unnatural cycle. Not only was sleep disturbed, but there were spikes in automobile accidents and heart attacks immediately after the clocks were adjusted, see links below. It seems to be uncertain whether the seasonal change saves energy (see links), and there is some contrary information about the health effects.

It appears that the evidence about Daylight Saving was not considered when it was first instituted, so maybe it should be now, and it is clear that changing the clocks seasonally is unnecessary, and the whole matter of Standard Time Zones is of no use anymore, so it might be a lot better for everyone if we simply scrapped standard time and everything associated with it. Anyone with a GPS device already has a universal clock, and that includes all cell phone towers. Some people do argue for the seasonal change, but they are basing that on the existence of standard time; when we eliminate standard time, their arguments for seasonal change disappear.

Then there's the problem with a twenty-four hour day, but let's just take one step at a time.


  1. AuntShecky's Avatar
    I would prefer to have so-called "standard" time all year rather than Daylight Saving Time (Good for you for avoiding the common, inexplicable error of including an "s" on "Saving." Full disclosure: Years ago, my short story on the topic included that error. It might still be on the NitLet!)

    In any event, morning darkness is typical around the Winer Solstice but it's not fun in the Spring. And how weird is it to have daylight when it's 7 p.m. -- nd snowing!
  2. AuntShecky's Avatar
    I'm sorry this repeated.