Archive for time

Changing Time

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2019 by telescoper

Among the many sensible decisions made yesterday by the European Parliament was to approve a directive that will abolish `Daylight Saving Time’. I’ve long felt that the annual ritual of putting the clocks forward in the Spring and back again in the Autumn was a waste of time effort, so I’ll be glad when this silly practice is terminated.
It would be better in my view to stick with a single Mean Time throughout the year. I’m only disappointed that this won’t happen until 2021 as EU countries have to enact the necessary legislation according to their constitutional processes.

The marvellous poster above is from 1916, when British Summer Time was introduced. I was surprised to learn recently that the practice of changing clocks backwards and forwards is only about a hundred years old. in the United Kingdom. To be honest I’m also surprised that the practice persists to this day, as I can’t see any real advantage in it. Any institution or organisation that really wants to change its working hours in summer can easily do so, but the world of work is far more flexible nowadays than it was a hundred years ago and I think few would feel the need.

Anyway, while I am on about Mean Time, here is a another poster from 1916.

Until October 1916, clocks in Ireland were set to Dublin Mean Time, as defined at Dunsink Observatory rather than at Greenwich. The adoption of GMT in Ireland was driven largely by the fact that the British authorities found that the time difference between Dublin and London had confused telegraphic communications during the Easter Rising earlier in 1916. Its imposition was therefore, at least in part, intended to bring Ireland under closer control and this did not go down well with Irish nationalists.

Ireland had not moved to Summer Time with Britain in May 1916 because of the Easter Rising. Dublin Mean Time was 25 minutes 21 seconds behind GMT but the change was introduced at the same time as BST ended in the UK, hence the alteration by one hour minus 25 minutes 21 seconds, ie 34 minutes and 39 seconds as in the poster.

Britain will probably not scrap British Summer Time immediately as it will be out of the European Union by then. British xenophobia will resist this change on the grounds that anything to do with the EU must be bad. What happens to Northern Ireland when Ireland scraps Daylight Saving Time is yet to be seen.

Moreover the desire expressed by more than one Brexiter to return to the 18th Century may be behind the postponement of the Brexit deadline from 29th March to 12th April may be the result of an attempt to repeal the new-fangled Gregorian calendar (introduced in continental Europe in 1582 but not adopted by Britain until 1750). It’s not quite right though: 29th March in the Gregorian calendar would be 11th April in the Gregorian calendar…

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On The Alteration Of Time

Posted in History with tags , , , , on October 28, 2018 by telescoper

So here we are again, having put our clocks back an hour. Summer Time is over, but at least I had extra time to do this morning’s crosswords. Or so it seems. It’s really only the clocks that changed, not the time. But then what is time, other than what clocks measure?

Anyway, before I get too philosophical let me mention that I found the marvellous poster above on Twitter. It’s from 1916, when British Summer Time was introduced. I was surprised that the practice of changing clocks backwards and forwards began so recently in the United Kingdom. To be honest I’m also surprised that the practice persists to this day, as I can’t see any real advantage in it.

It would be better in my view to stick with Greenwich Mean Time throughout the year. Any institution or organisation that wants to change its working hours in summer can easily do so, but the world of work is far more flexible nowadays than it was a hundred years ago and I think few would feel the need.

Anyway, while I am on about Mean Time, here is a another poster from 1916.

Until October 1916, clocks in Ireland were set to Dublin Mean Time, as defined at Dunsink Observatory rather than at Greenwich. The adoption of GMT in Ireland was driven largely by the fact that the British authorities found that the time difference between Dublin and London had confused telegraphic communications during the Easter Rising earlier in 1916. Its imposition was therefore, at least in part, intended to bring Ireland under closer control and this did not go down well with Irish nationalists.

Ireland had not moved to Summer Time with Britain in May 1916 because of the Easter Rising. Dublin Mean Time was 25 minutes 21 seconds behind GMT but the change was introduced at the same time as BST ended in the UK, hence the alteration by one hour minus 25 minutes 21 seconds, ie 34 minutes and 39 seconds as in the poster.

From Time to Time

Posted in Biographical, The Universe and Stuff with tags , , on June 5, 2011 by telescoper

It having been my birthday yesterday, and very nice it was too, thank you for asking, I’m filled this morning with thoughts about the passage of time. It’s strange how working in education imposes a cycle on your life: admissions, teaching, exams, graduation ceremonies, summer recess, and so on. The main thing that breaks this pattern of recurrence is when students finish their finals and leave for the big wide world. Since I moved to Cardiff in 2007, the 4th year students who have just finished their examinations are the first cohort that I’ve seen through their whole degree programme at Cardiff University, and it will be great to see them all get their degrees next month in St David’s Hall, but it will be yet another reminder of the passage of the years.

Not that I’m one to get depressed about such things. I’ve taken surprisingly well to middle age and gracefully (?) surrendered the things of youth some time ago. However, time is such a mysterious thing it’s hard not to think about its passing every now and then.

This time last year I was in Copenhagen for a small cosmology workshop. There’ll be a repeat performance next week too, so I’ll be off to Denmark for a few days. In fact I bought my ticket some time ago, but realised only on Friday that it was next week, and not the week after, so have had to rearrange a few things rather hastily. The advancing years have obviously addled my brain.

Anyway, all this talk about time and cycles gives me some sort of excuse to post the following video from the ESO Very Large Telescope in Chile. The photography is wonderful. Pity about the music, though. Spoils it a bit if you ask me…