Dealing with Earth Time

It’s seems to me that children and animals have it right when it comes to dealing with Earth time. They pretty much ignore it. But for the rest of us we’re pretty useless with dealing with our own manual manipulation of time.

Earth is out of sync with itself. Seasons are defined with respect to the (maximum / minimum / midpoint) tilt of Earth’s rotational axis towards or away from the sun, but in reality they tend to run a day or two either side of this. (Or maybe more?)

Earth time split

We already know about the addition of leap seconds and days at various times to keep time in sync, and we manually adjust our clocks around the Earth, roughly into time zones so that we ourselves can be in sync with the Earth’s rotation. (Perhaps we could argue that there’s not enough time for all of us so we need to divide it into 24 time zones to spread things out, just as the Dutch spread it’s population out over the summer holiday and define it in 3 sections of overlapping 3 week periods).

And then there’s the further manual adjustment of time, sometimes controversial, often discussed, but necessarily adhered to – the advancement or retreat of our clocks by an hour to maximise sunlight hours (assuming that we live in a country with a local climate allowing sunlight…).

This year I noticed it for the first time – the Earth’s hemispheres are not in sync with each other. Whilst Europe does away with ‘summer time’ tonight (24th October), the southern hemisphere has already entered into it’s summer 3 weeks ago.

What? Is the differential hemispheric rotation going to cause a shear across the Equator and split our world apart?

Oh wait. Southern summer starts on “World animal day”. Animals are more in tune with nature than we are. They wake up when the sun goes up and sleep when it goes down (apart from the inverse solar (nocturnal) creatures.

It happens every year, twice a year. The clocks change by an hour and people wake up and go to sleep at the wrong time. Some are too tired, others too energetic. (This is sounding like my kids…).

More seriously, you get those cretins who think they still don’t need their car headlights on in winter and plough into pedestrians they didn’t see, or into wildlife who have become confused with the advance or retreat of rush hour by an hour.

It’s seems to me that children and animals have got it right when it comes to dealing with time. They pretty much ignore it. But for the rest of us we’re pretty useless with dealing with our own manual manipulation of time. Actually, we’re even pretty useless when it comes to dealing with time when we leave it well alone. We run out of it, we lose it, we chase it, we don’t spend it wisely.

So how on Earth can we think of time travel when we can hardly deal with daylight saving time?

Paul

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Author: Paul Wandason

I love astronomy and science fiction, but I love my family more. So I love time travel too!

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