Well, we’ve all gone through that ridiculous semi-annual practice of resetting our clocks once again, a practice which leaves nearly everyone scratching his or her head as to why we continue this madness.
Let’s forget about “daylight savings time” for just a bit and concentrate on some realities of time-keeping.
All the world recognizes Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) as the basis for global time-keeping. Okay, maybe there are a few recalcitrant rogue states or territories that don’t, but they are a minuscule minority.
The zero degree longitude line runs through Greenwich, England (the French argued that it should run through Paris, but everyone knows how truculent the French can be) and the Greenwich time zone lies seven–and–a–half degrees on either side of that line, with each time zone lying an additional fifteen degrees to the east and west.
Each time zone should encompass one hour as there are twenty-four time zones and the earth rotates once every twenty-four hours. Twenty-four times fifteen equals three-sixty. Simple, right?
Well, it would be if everybody recognized the continuity of the longitude lines, but it is not to be. Localities and states and countries choose which time zone they wish to reside in so the time zone lines zig and zag in all sorts of crazy configurations. China recognizes only one time period for the entire country, though it spans five or six time zones.
And one would think that the International Date Line, which lies in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, could easily be defined by a single straight line running north to south without interruption. Not so. Some island nations have opted to reside on one or the other side of the line, and so it is jogged to meet their demands.
So, for Kentucky. Most of our state is currently in the Eastern Time Zone (EST) and is typically five hours earlier than GMT. And while most Kentuckians have come to accept this as normal, it doesn’t comply with a strict compliance to the longitudinal lines which should serve to establish time zones. Here’s why.
Since the GMT time zone lies seven-and-a-half degrees east and west of the zero meridian, that means that – moving west – the next time zone should add 15 degrees and extend from 7.5 degrees west to 22.5 degrees west, the next from 22.5 to 37.5, and so on. The EST zone should lie between 67.5 degrees west and 82.5 degrees west.
But all of Kentucky, save about twenty-six miles at the very eastern end, lies between 82.5 and 89 degrees west, totally within the Central Time Zone which extends from 82.5 degrees west to 97.5 degrees west and is minus six hours of GMT.
Confusing? Of course.
So the question becomes: In the midst of this confusion, why aren’t we in the Central Time Zone already, and why are we compounding the problem by changing our clocks twice every year?
Say, here’s a solution! Let’s declare that all analog clocks be made with faces that have two sets of numbers, offset by one hour and, further, that all digital clocks cannot be made that are not automatically able to adjust to DST as computers and smartphones do.
Or we could be totally logical and just do away with DST and make the longitude lines the true demarcation of time zones or stipulate all our time as Zulu Time, referring to GMT and using the 24 hour designation so that 8:00 a.m. (0800 in military time) in the Central Zone would be expressed as 1400 Zulu and get rid of those pesky a.m.’s and p.m.’s.
Is your head exploding yet?
Recommended reading: Revolution in Tme by David Landes and Longitude by Dava Sobel.