Sunday, October 5, 2014

Daylight Saving Time



Today marks the beginning of the annual daylight savings period, the day when we move our clocks forward one hour, from 2.00am to 3.00am. As a result, where it used to get dark at 5.15pm, that will now be 6.15pm. As the days lengthen, the period of daylight will be further increased. Correspondingly, it will become light later in the morning.

Here are some facts and trivia about daylight saving . . .

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Daylight Saving Time will finish in New South Wales on 5 April 2015, when the clocks are adjusted at 3.00am to become 2.00am.


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Although seasons are reversed in the northern hemisphere and we here in Oz don’t refer to autumn as “fall”, the following is a convenient way to remember how to adjust the clocks:



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From 2am on Sunday, Australia will officially have five different time zones. Residents from New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, and the Australian Capital Territory will turn their clock forward one hour. However Qld, the Northern Territory and Western Australia are not followers of daylight saving. Residents of Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart and Canberra will now be half an hour ahead of Adelaide, one hour ahead of Brisbane, one and a half hours ahead of Darwin and three hours ahead of Perth. The differing time zones are due to the size of our land mass. Australia is usually divided up into three separate time zones, however with daylight saving this becomes five.


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Ancient civilizations are known to have engaged in a practice similar to modern DST where they would adjust their daily schedules in accordance to the Sun. For example, the Roman water clocks used different scales for different months of the year.


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Benjamin Franklin is often credited with being the inventor of DST. In his 1784 essay “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light” he proposed to economise the use of candles by rising earlier in the morning to make use of the morning sunlight. His was, however, light hearted comic suggestion.

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New Zealand entomologist George Vernon Hudson was the person who actually suggested changing the clocks for daylight saving. In 1895, Hudson presented a paper to the Wellington Philosophical Society that proposed a two-hour shift forward in October and a two-hour shift back in March. He followed up his proposal with an article in 1898, and although there was interest in the idea, it was never followed through.

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Germany was the first country to implement DST. Clocks there were first turned forward at 11:00 p.m. (23:00) on April 30, 1916. The rationale was to minimize the use of artificial lighting in order to save fuel for the war effort during World War I. The idea was quickly followed by Britain and many other countries, including the United States. Many countries reverted back to standard time post-World War I. It wasn’t until the next World War that DST made its return in many countries in order to save vital energy resources for the war.

Cartoon from Punch magazine during WW 1. It is entitled Wake up, England! and shows the sun bursting through a man's bedroom window during WW1. The sun says to householder "Now, why waste your daylight? Save it and give it to the country." Further comment reads: [If only for the sake of economy in artificial light during war-time, the daylight-saving scheme should have the support of all patriots.] 

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President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted year-round DST in the United States, called “War Time” during World War II from February 9, 1942 to September 30, 1945. The law was enforced 40 days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and during this time, the U.S. time zones were called “Eastern War Time”, “Central War Time”, and “Pacific War Time”. After the surrender of Japan in mid-August 1945, the time zones were relabeled “Peace Time”.



Britain applied “Double Summer Time” during World War II by moving the clocks two hours ahead of GMT during the summer and one hour ahead of GMT during the winter.

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All States and Territories used daylight saving Time during World Wars 1 and 2.

Daylight saving was first introduced thereafter to Tasmania in 1968 and to the Australian mainland in 1971. After a short trial period, the more temperate southern states of New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia continued to change their clocks each October and March; however, tropical Queensland and the hot desert states of Western Australia and the Northern Territory chose to keep standard time all year round.

Since that time, Queensland has come under continued pressure to 'join' daylight saving in order to be in sync with the rest of the eastern seaboard. This pressure, which is overwhelmingly driven by the south-east business sector and metropolitan media, still divides and disrupts the state.

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The following daylight saving mistake earned the 1999 Darwin Award:

This is the Darwin Award citation:

In most parts of the world, the switch away from Daylight Saving Time proceeds smoothly. But the time change raised havoc with Palestinian terrorists this year. 
Israel insisted on a premature switch from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time to accommodate a week of pre-sunrise prayers. Palestinians refused to live on "Zionist Time." Two weeks of scheduling havoc ensued. Nobody knew the "correct" time. 
At precisely 5:30pm on Sunday, two coordinated car bombs exploded in different cities, killing three terrorists who were transporting the bombs. It was initially believed that the devices had been detonated prematurely by klutzy amateurs. A closer look revealed the truth behind the explosions. 
The bombs had been prepared in a Palestine-controlled area, and set to detonate on Daylight Saving Time. But the confused drivers had already switched to Standard Time. When they picked up the bombs, they neglected to ask whose watch was used to set the timing mechanism. As a result, the cars were still en-route when the explosives detonated, delivering the terrorists to their untimely demises.

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Through 2006, Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. ended a few days before Halloween (October 31). Children’s pedestrian deaths are four times higher on Halloween than on any other night of the year. A new law to extend DST to the first Sunday in November took effect in 2007, with the purpose of providing trick-or-treaters more light and therefore more safety from traffic accidents. For decades, candy manufacturers lobbied for a Daylight Saving Time extension to Halloween, as many of the young trick-or-treaters gathering candy are not allowed out after dark, and thus an added hour of light means a big holiday treat for the candy industry. Anecdotally, the 2007 switch may not have had much effect, as it appeared that children simply waited until dark to go trick-or-treating.

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Widespread confusion was created during the 1950s and 1960s when each U.S. locality could start and end Daylight Saving Time as it desired. One year, 23 different pairs of DST start and end dates were used in Iowa alone. For exactly five weeks each year, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia were not on the same time as Washington D.C., Cleveland, or Baltimore--but Chicago was. And, on one Ohio to West Virginia bus route, passengers had to change their watches seven times in 35 miles! The situation led to millions of dollars in costs to several industries, especially those involving transportation and communications. Extra railroad timetables alone cost the today's equivalent of over $12 million per year.

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Amish communities in the United States and Canada are divided about whether or not to observe Daylight Saving Time. Although the Amish are generally known for leading simple lives without modern conveniences, practices vary from community to community. Likewise, some Amish communities observe DST, while others do not. In one county in Ohio, approximately 10 of the 90 Amish church districts opt out of DST (known as “fast time” or “English time,” preferring to observe what they term “slow time.”

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