Sunday, October 29, 2006

A time zone to remember

I woke up an hour early today. Except i didn't. My phone woke me up, after changing it's time zone from BST to GMT. My watch was still on BST. My brain wasn't on anything.

You're probably thinking that you like time zones most of the time, except when they change. I don't see their point. Now we live in a 24 hour world. We go to Tesco at 3am, some people start work at 11pm.

What do there times actually mean? Well, there's "elevenses" and "after eights". Is there anything else based on the name we give to time? You could argue midnight and midday are based on specific times, but what if meant what they actually meant? The middle of the day and the middle of the night.

China seem to have a good idea. They have 1 timezone for the whole country, even though China covers about 4 time zones laterally. This means sunset is a few hours different across the country. We have this in the UK to a much smaller extent. The Sun rises about 25 minutes earlier in the East than in the West of the UK. It makes sense to standardize time in the UK, even though it means midday is at different times. We don't have sub-hour time zones in the UK (because we communicate with the whole country, not just our own town) as that would be silly.

Now we live in such an international world, isn't it a bit silly to have sub-day time zones?

What if every country used UTC (basically GMT, but more international)? Events would not have to have a timezone stamped after their description. People would no longer have to ask what time people meant. Meetings would be much easier to schedule. People would still get up when it was light, and go to bed soon after it was dark. In the UK it would get light around 8am, whereas in the USA it would be light around 2pm. There, people may go to work 3pm-11pm. In Japan people may sleep from 6am until 2pm.

Any switch from different time systems will be chaotic, but in the long run I think it would work well.

Any comments?

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