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What Zone Are We In?

Most of the countries in the world today, but not all, use standardized time zones developed in 1878 by a Canadian named Sir Sanford Fleming. He reasoned, there are 360 degrees of longitude. Longitude is defined as the angular distance between a point on any meridian and the prime meridian. Each hour the earth rotates 15 degrees which means in 24 hours, one day, the earth rotates a complete 360 degree circle. The International Prime Meridian Conference, consisting of 22 nations, met in Washington D.C., U.S.A. in 1884 to adopt an international standardized time zone. The longitude of Greenwich, England was chosen as the prime meridian and would have the distinct privilege of zero longitude. This was a logical selection since sailors for centuries had used Greenwich as the standard by which to measure an hour. Due to the curvature of the earth, the distance between the 24 time zones is greatest at the equator and is zero at the poles. Time zones gave consistency to noon being the middle of the day when the sun is highest in each zone. The terms noon and midnight would have the same meaning wherever the time zone was located.

Before the days of mass transit, the world moved at a slower pace. Time was set by the sun. When it reached its peak each day, clocks were set to Noon. Most towns had a “town clock” which was used by individuals to set their personal watches or clocks. Daily travel between towns required resetting of watches to conform to the time in each town. Railroad stops were based on the time at each location. This made train schedules confusing.

With the increased use of railroads to move people and products over long distances, it became essential to have a set time schedule for all locations and used by all train operators.  Arrival and departure times needed to be uniform for the safety of the railroads and the delivery of the train’s cargo (people, animals, produce, material). Britain was the first country (1847) to adopt a standard time for railway operators. It was followed by New Zealand (1868) and the United States (1883). This was before Greenwich Meridian Time was adopted.  By 1929 most countries were using a type of time zone. Nepal (1986) was the last to convert.

Even though it has been 135 years since the International Prime Meridian Conference, some countries today use variations of Sir Fleming’s time zone proposal. Here are a few examples. China has one time zone, but according to Fleming it should have five. In the Middle East and South Asia several countries use half-hour time zones. The North and South poles use Coordinated Universal Time.

The United States Congress made the four time zones (Pacific, Mountain, Central, and Eastern) in the continental U.S. mandatory in 1918 with the Standard Time Act. Today the United States with the addition of the states of Hawaii and Alaska and including U.S. territories cover nine time zones.

Because of the internet and real-time events, there might be a need for time zone changes in the future. Then again, some things can stay the same no matter what else is changing in the world. Only time will tell.

https://www.thoughtco.com/what-are-time-zones-1435358
http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1933079,00.html
https://wonderopolis.org/wonder/why-do-we-have-different-time-zones
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/geobee/study-corner/activity-10/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clock_tower

What Zone Are We In?  By Denise V

Most of the countries in the world today, but not all, use standardized time zones developed in 1878 by a Canadian named Sir Sanford Fleming. He reasoned, there are 360 degrees of longitude. Longitude is defined as the angular distance between a point on any meridian and the prime meridian. Each hour the earth rotates 15 degrees which means in 24 hours, one day, the earth rotates a complete 360 degree circle. The International Prime Meridian Conference, consisting of 22 nations, met in Washington D.C., U.S.A. in 1884 to adopt an international standardized time zone. The longitude of Greenwich, England was chosen as the prime meridian and would have the distinct privilege of zero longitude. This was a logical selection since sailors for centuries had used Greenwich as the standard by which to measure an hour. Due to the curvature of the earth, the distance between the 24 time zones is greatest at the equator and is zero at the poles. Time zones gave consistency to noon being the middle of the day when the sun is highest in each zone. The terms noon and midnight would have the same meaning wherever the time zone was located.

Before the days of mass transit, the world moved at a slower pace. Time was set by the sun. When it reached its peak each day, clocks were set to Noon. Most towns had a “town clock” which was used by individuals to set their personal watches or clocks. Daily travel between towns required resetting of watches to conform to the time in each town. Railroad stops were based on the time at each location. This made train schedules confusing.

With the increased use of railroads to move people and products over long distances, it became essential to have a set time schedule for all locations and used by all train operators.  Arrival and departure times needed to be uniform for the safety of the railroads and the delivery of the train’s cargo (people, animals, produce, material). Britain was the first country (1847) to adopt a standard time for railway operators. It was followed by New Zealand (1868) and the United States (1883). This was before Greenwich Meridian Time was adopted.  By 1929 most countries were using a type of time zone. Nepal (1986) was the last to convert.

Even though it has been 135 years since the International Prime Meridian Conference, some countries today use variations of Sir Fleming’s time zone proposal. Here are a few examples. China has one time zone, but according to Fleming it should have five. In the Middle East and South Asia several countries use half-hour time zones. The North and South poles use Coordinated Universal Time.

The United States Congress made the four time zones (Pacific, Mountain, Central, and Eastern) in the continental U.S. mandatory in 1918 with the Standard Time Act. Today the United States with the addition of the states of Hawaii and Alaska and including U.S. territories cover nine time zones.

Because of the internet and real-time events, there might be a need for time zone changes in the future. Then again, some things can stay the same no matter what else is changing in the world. Only time will tell.

https://www.thoughtco.com/what-are-time-zones-1435358
http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1933079,00.html
https://wonderopolis.org/wonder/why-do-we-have-different-time-zones
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/geobee/study-corner/activity-10/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clock_tower