Saturday, March 12, 2011

Hours Minuntes and Seconds of Time - Part 2

It is official.  In the United States on the 13th March 2011, the 02:00 will also be 03:00.  So if you have things that are set to local time that don't shift instantaneously from 02:00 to 03:00 you will have to do it yourself. In the past just making your time pieces spring forward an hour was enough.

I finally finished that humoungous NIST document on time.  Whew!  They even went through the concerns of whether or not time runs either forwards or backwards.  It seems that ever since the big bang and as the Universe has expanded entropy (randomness) has increased.  In fact it is the concern that if randomness could decrease that we could have been fooled and because of relativity that time could be going backwards.  Or it could even be that time could actually pulse backwards and forwards.  Then I confront this Darwin character who tells me that the Theory of Evolution does just that, that order comes out of chaos!  That makes me very suspicious that I should not accept Evolution.  Maybe the order was there from the beginning and still is.  I don't think Darwin gave the whole thing enough thought.  But then I doubt he knew all that much about Physics.

While doing other things and not even searching for something I run across this and at first thought it was just five things that would affect your health:

How they got five when I counted only four I don't know.  But it does show the problems that will be caused and that the time is upon us to yank the clock forward an hour, lose a precious hour of sleep, and have 02:00 instantaneously and mysteriously become 03:00.  Thanks goodness I do not have to worry about two programs at the same time since there will be no TV program from 02:00 to 03:00 since that hour doesn't even exist.  But the History Channel's on-line listing for MT will still be off and will be that forever.  I have no idea how they intend to resolve the Arizona versus the rest of MT zone issue, but my solution is simple - scrap DST!  Then the History Channel may finally get it correct but only if they finally calculate the local viewing time based on which of the two feeds given in UTC time that you get.  For the Universal Sports channel it is a little simpler. They have only one feed given in ET, so just subtract one hour in CT, two in MT, and three in PT. Okay, on to how we got hours, minutes, and seconds.

My avocation was to provide filters for people to protect them from
the abuses of the Internet:

I regularly pulled down and studied dozens of malware files per week.  If I keep them (zipped with encryption naturally) there is an entry like this as one of the description lines to identify what it is:

Date:   2010-10-22 14:06   (35411)

This date corresponds with a file named WrongPopCorn.pdf.  Boy do they have the name right.  It is a PDF file where the malicious Javascript is obfuscated by coding / encryption.  It is designated by AV companies as being either a Trojan.Pidief or Exploit.JS.Pdfka.cuk.  Now you know why I backed up and looked into the year calendar problem.  You can also see that business calendar that was proposed by the US Congress has a problem.  What do I do for the timing if I pull down the sample on the end of year day between December 30 and January 1st?


The other one is the leap day, but on that one we already have a problem with a birth on February 29th.  Instead of some people celebrating their 92nd birthday it is only their 23rd.  That is the up side.  The down side is that they have to wait 72 years for their 18th birth date so they have the right to vote. For me the answer is simple:

Date:   2010/2011 15:33

So there is a way out of it. Similarly, I can also handle the leap day with:

Date:   2012-(06-30)/(07-01) 02:23

I am not going to get into how to identify a file pulled down at 02:27 local time on 7 Nov 2010 and another one almost an hour later at 02:22 on the same year month, and day. Why not?  Because I use UTC time on my computers.  It is the ONLY way to fly for an IT person if they have a choice.  DST just causes way too many problems, especially if you have Linux and Microsoft Windows on the same machine.  Linux makes the internal clock time UTC and calculates your local time based on how you set your TZ variable.  Microsoft makes the internal clock in local time.  You will never get the two to ever agree.  Microsoft did it wrong just like the History channel has it wrong.  Specify it in UTC time as long as possible performing the conversion to local time at the last instant.

Several years back I watched a humorous episode of Northern Exposure where Maurice J. Minnifield purchased an ancient German clock for a huge amount of money.  Holling Vincoeur and Shelly Marie Tambo come by to see the marvelous clock only to point out that it is at least one hour out of time according to their inexpensive wrist watches that probably lose or gain no more than a few seconds at best or just a few minutes at worst every year unless the battery dies. Maurice has to put up with his clicking lemon but it does illustrate just how bad older chronographs were.

Then how did people handle this way back when?  They used the sun!  The sun came up, they got up or at least closed their shutters if they wanted to sleep more.  Most people didn't have clocks until the end of the late 19th or early 20th centuries.  Only the rich had them and for most people it was much later than the development of the first accurate mechanical clock by Huygens.


Actually.  most of Tennessee didn't have electrification until the mid 20th century with the Corp of Engineers TVA project which was instrumental in the making of the nuclear bomb during World War II.  The amount of energy expended in extracting the right isotope of Uranium for the bombs used more electric power than almost all other uses of electric power in the United States combined.  So if DST was meant to minimize the use of electrical power the solution is simple.  Stop making nuclear bombs!

Now here comes the first myth.  I keep reading idiots who say that Benjamin Franklin proposed DST.  He did no such thing!  He observed Parisians burning candles until late in the night, snd then closing their shutters in the morning to sleep longer.  So he humorously suggested the passing of a law that shutters should be taxed and candles rationed.  He also suggested that cannons be fired at first ight in the morning as a sort of communal alarm clock that would shift a few seconds or minutes plus seconds each day. But Franklin couldn't possbily have suggested DST because nobody had any accurate time pieces. There were no time zone standards and much of the other work that needed to be done to even consider time zones wasn't done until more than a century after his death. Franklin did some work on discovering what electricity was but it took almost 50 more years before the work of Faraday in understanding electricity and magnetism took place.  It took another 50 plus years before James Clerk Maxwell created his unifying theory of electricity and magnetism along with his famous equations. After that came the telegraph. Another 25 plus years and we have Nikola Tesla who gave us the AC current we use today.  DC is fine locally but it just can't be used any time the distance exceeds 5+ miles.

So what brought about the accurate time pieces we take for granted today?  A disaster involving the loss of many seamen by the Britsh Navy although the French also made earlier efforts:


John Harrison was the brilliant man who stepped up to the almost impossible task of creating a mechanical chronometer to measure the longitude:

Basically a mechanical chronometer or later a Cesium based chronometer are nothing more than extremely accurate time pieces.  But if you read that long NIST document you eventually understand that if you have a fixed rate of either velocity or starting velocity plus acceleration then distance traveled which is the known can be used to measure time elapsed. But it also correlates to the angular rotation of the earth where the distances aren't fixed because the distance traveled to move fifteen degrees at the equator is far more than it is near the poles.  But degrees of rotation can be used to calculate the time and given the latitude and knowledge of the mean radius of the earth distance traveled as well.

Dava Sobel wrote a book about the effort that was turned into a joint BBC and Arts and Entertainment series to dramatize the effort, comprising mainly the work that John Harrison did. Some have compared what Harrison did with an analogy of somebody coming up today and saying I have created a car that gets a thousand kilometers on a measley 4 liters of petrol.  The accuracy of his chronometers was just too good to believe.


This is all fine and well but how does that align with normal people do things?  Did Benjamin Franklin have a good watch?  I doubt it.  He probably had a clock which was not very reliable.  I doubt that they could count on them.  The lubricants they had were awful, frequently gumming up and sometimes even turning completely solid within less than one to two years. John Harrison got around that problem by using a wood named lignum vitae to reduce the friction and then invented what is called the grasshopper escapement which reduced the friction of the regulator movement almost to zero.  Harrison also found a way to fight the effects of heat and cold in a pendulum clock by creating the gridiorn pendulum which used alternating brass and iron rods to have the effects of cold and heat to cancel out due to the nature of the different properties of the two metals.

Eventually, what Harrison created spread widedly, was copied and eventually less expensive mechanical chronometers were created.  But people still used the lunar method on land to calculate the longitude even well into the 19th century.  What drove the change for the wider spread use of accurate chronometers was first the needs of seamen to find their longitude to prevent disasters.  It was further enhanced by a need for synchronizing railroads in the 19th century so that multiple locomotives could share the railroad lines and avoid collisions.  Even in the early 20th century the Trans-Siberian railway which was created consisted of just one ribbon of two rails where one train going the opposite direction of another had to go off on a siding to allow another train going the opposite direction to pass. It was critical to have accurate time with telegraph and then telephone to avoid collisions.  But finally it was the industrialization that hastened the adoption of time keepers and schedules and the abandoning of when the sun is x amount of degrees up from either east or west, please show up.  Time zones were finally created, primarily for railroads in the United States and Russia to give some standardization to time.  Time zones were not needed in England and most of western Europe which was just set as one hour later than it was in England. But time zones were needed in India and throughout the rest of the British empire, the United States, the rest of Europe, and Russia.

The needs of the navies and the railroads finally led to the creation of the GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) and standardized time zones in the late 19th Century:

DST was first implemented during World War I as an energy saving measure.  It was dropped almost immediately.  It should be obvious that World War II was what drove the US military to adopt Zulu time (GMT) as their standard time. It finally all led up with the invention of the Cesium atomic clock to create the replacement of GMT time with what we use today, UTC time which is now the standard:

Actually, the UTC acronym is a French designation which seems to be lost.  I think it was Universale Time Coordinaire.  Okay, what is going on here?  At the start we have seamen dying because of inaccurate chronometers (clocks / watches) who didn't know their correct longitude.  Before they had accurate chronometers seamen had to estimate their longitude solely by dead reckoning.  If they reckoned wrong, they frequently ended up dead.

At the end we have Maurice Minnifield finding out just how far people had progressed in creating more accurate chronometers in just a few hundred years. An inexpensive wrist watch costing less than $15 beat out his expensive multi-thousand dollar German clock that wasn't more than 250 years old.

But we also have this monster called Daylight Saving Time smashing forward an entire hour every spring and yanking it back another hour every fall.  It is worse than that.  In America there is one hour on one day in spring that no longer exists:  02:00 ... 03:00. In the fall we have one hour repeated twice: 02:00 ... 03:00. In the fall we have one hour repeated twice: 01:00 ... 02:00. Why do that? Here the brains behind this time business have worked for centuries to the point you can frequently find your longitude by just using the GPS capabilities stuffed into your cell phone (using UTC time, not local time).  But we also have these idiots in the Congress of the United States and various other legal bodies in other countries around the world that pass this insane nonsense called DST with no thought for the problems it causes just to satisfy the retailing lobby.  The biggest part of that lobbying effort that accrues the greatest benefits are the petro-chemical and sporting industies. At the very apex is the Golf industry.  We have this thrashing and destroying of the carefully crafted time by some people just so they can increase their profits up to a whopping extra 50% for the golf industry by using DST to achieve it.  Talk about the tail wagging the dog!  And to prove the point that it is bipartisan, Senators Hatch and Kennedy argued with each other non-stop all day only to join each other on the golf course at the end of the day.  I don't mind them loving golf. But I KNOW this thrashing of the time clock MUST come to an end! Tell Senator Hatch to play his extra round of golf at the time it is really at, 8:00 PM rather than 7:00 PM (for me 20:00 local time).  If they want to make it any longer just be honest and schedule congressional meetings an hour earlier from spring through fall.

Here are some extra links on time:

With metric time we have 24 hours per day versus 10 hours per day versus 30 which seems to be rather inconsistent.  Ten is definitely not enough.  Some of the time even 24 hours is not enough and we have some rather strange time zones at various places in the world.  Thirty may be even more appropriate measuring 12 degrees of longitude rather than 15 degrees with our current 24 hour days.

The main thing to remember is that compared to DST, there is a lot of very deep thinking going into measuring hours, minutes, and seconds extending all the way into the Theory of Relativity for the large (the cosmos) on down to Quantum Mechanics for the small (the atom and sub-atomic particles).  Compared to all of this deep thinking about time the thrashing around of Daylight Saving Time would be comical if it were not for the problems it causes.  But it is quite a contrast that highly skilled technical people have made great efforts to make time measurement better and better over hundreds of years.  But now we have Daylight Saving Time that is throwing a monkey wrench into the works.

Whew!  I am glad we got this out of the way.  Next we look at the safety issues and the effects of latitude.  What this is all leading up to is to say goodbye to DST and start with voluntarily doing things earlier that takes into account things like latitude and other things.

No comments:

Post a Comment