Time zones

Time is relative. And I do not mean the time in general, but our local time. We do not think much about our own time and that not everywhere on earth is the same time of day. Some people, pilots and flight attendants in special, deal with this relativity every day due to their job. Have you ever thought why we have different time zones? We live in a globalised world and have become neighbours in all everyday things. We can take part in lives of people thousands of kilometres away, but we still have a complicated system of times. In this short essay we will have a look on the time zones, why they exist and why they are not abandoned. In the second part I will discuss a little thorough about the effect of these time zones to our daily life and the concept of "summer time" (Daylight saving time). Does it really save energy by saving daylight?

When you cut the earth you get a circle, which is in reality not perfect, but still round. Since the earth rotates about itself, the sun rises not always at the same time, since the amplitude gets less the more north or south you go from the equator. At the equator the sun rises every day exactly at six o'clock. However, since this rotation, there is a difference in sun rising of about 24 hours. If you now have a circle, it makes 360° around. The time zones evolved by dividing those 360° into 24 zones. In this system, the sun rises exactly one hour later, if you go west 15° longitude. When it is 6 a.m. in Middle Europe, it is 12 p.m. (noon) in East China (or Vietnam during normal time), and 12 a.m. (midnight) at the US east coast. In our everyday life this system functions quite well and we do not really care about it. It is only sometimes annoying when we get a phone call deep in the night or travel to other regions and get a jet-lag there.

The time zones were established in 1885. Since then some people have argued that there is no need for time zones and that a "global time" should be installed instead. So, why is this system not abandoned? The answer is quite easy and there are two points we have to consider. The first one is habit. People are used to wake up in the morning and go to bed in the evening and sleep at night. You could say, who cares if you wake up at 6 a.m. or at 11 p.m.? Cultures have developed specific rules, which are deep in our cultural understanding. People think it is wrong to wake up at "11 p.m.", because this time is always related to late night. 6 a.m. on the other hand is associated with "morning". We cannot attribute a later time of the day with "morning" easily. We have to stay at the rules. People could change, that is clear and here we have to go to the second point. Who actually has to change? Where is the region in which local time and real time is the same, meaning where the sun rises exactly at 6 a.m. in the morning? If the whole globe has 6 a. m. there is only one region in which the sun rises at that time - in all other regions of the world it will be either day or night. And this second point is quite political, because people must agree on the region. It will be apparent that people will try to make their own home region, their country the region in which real time and local time match exactly. Out of this development could raise a serious argument, in which peoples blamed others to be discriminating, if not being racist. It could even lead to serious diplomatic tensions and conflicts. Who wants to be the county where the sun rises at, let me say, 9 p.m.? You see, the discussion of a global time is evidently more complex as the first glance might be.

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