Monday, March 19, 2012

Standardization of Time Essay

Standardization of Time Essay

Time has always been of utmost importance to peoples. Centuries ago they used to measure the time based on the position of the sun. For example, it was noon when the sun was highest in the sky, and the lower was the sun, the later in the evening it was. In the Middle Ages people came up with the sundials and only some centuries later the mechanical clocks appeared (Prerau, 2005). Of course, when cities and people individually were setting their clocks and watches by measuring the position of the sun, the results varied slightly, though at times destructively sharply. At that point people realized that in order for the modern world of innovation to function properly and harmonically standardized time had to be set for all the cities of a taken country.

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The three main innovations that had worked together and lead to the standardization of time were: the astronomical researches/observations, spreading of the telegraph and the significance of the railroads. The accuracy of today's watches and clocks comes from observations that were made by scientists about the nature and features of time, in dependency to the sun. The scientists realized that it is possible to set standardized time because time can be easily and clearly predicted as it depends on the primarily on the sun.

The problem of the standardized time reached its apogee in the age of the rise of railroads. In England those working for the railroad were concerned about the variation of local times, and they forced a standardized time on the country. Dr. William Hyde Wollaston was the first one to come up with this idea. Though, later his follower Abraham Follett Osler popularized it and actually brought it into action. In November 1840, the Great Western Railway adopted London time and put end to the struggling with time differences. Within the next seven years other railroads in England followed the example of the Great Western Railroad. At the same time, even in 1847 there were railroads that still refused to accept the standardized time (Zerubavel, 1982).

The development of telegraph allowed the railroads to directly send the hour and minute from the central office to every headquarter on the line. This innovation was firstly used by the North Western Railways to give exactitude to train timetables all over England. Emerging of the telegraph was also one of the reasons for the overall time standardization that occurred in 1847 (Prerau, 2005). The idea had such success because then it became possible to measure time accurately and avoid confusion with schedules, delays, and incidents. The process of time standardization was very rapid. Already by 1855, the vast majority of public clocks in Britain were set according to GMT (Zerubavel, 1982).

It has been more than a century since the standardization of time was introduced in England, then in America and Canada and then all over the world. It was rather easy to disseminate the unification of time upon people because it was clear fro them that such an innovation will only benefit them and make their lives easier. Naturally, the time zone boundaries have altered greatly since their original introduction. Moreover, little changes still occur (Daylight Saving Time). It can be noticed that time zone boundaries tend to shift westward. This is efficient for the countries on the eastern edge of a time zone that can then move the sunset an hour later. Thus, under the law, it is possible to change the time zone, though the principal standard for this change is the "convenience of commerce" (Daylight Saving Time).
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