Sunday, November 13, 2005

Spring forward, Fall back

Sun rises in the east and sun sets in west.

You should be thinking what big deal in that, everybody knows that. But one thing we usually don’t take into consideration is the time sun spends in each geography. Sun in certain period of year falls in love with that place so much so that he sets at 8 in the night and in another period he hates it so much that he sets early at 5 in evening.What this means in the uneven number of day light hours during different periods of years.

So how to balance this uneven day light?
Advance the time by one hour during summer months and once summer is over bring back the time by one hour. This concept is known as Spring forward, Fall back. This idea was first floated by Benjamin Franklin and it first got used in US during world war time.As of this year, DST begins for US at 2 am on first Sunday of April and time reverts to standard time at 2am on last Sunday of October.But in 2007, DST is going to extend for few more weeks.

US follows three different zones – Pacific Standard Time (PST), Central Standard Time (PST) and Eastern Standard Time (PST).What it means is when it is 8 am in west coast of US, it will be 11 am in Central US and 12 am in East Coast.Along with these three different time zones, which are already confusing, add Daylight Saving Time to make it a perfect chaos!

Same thing happened last week here after time was adjusted back one hour on last Sunday of October.I actually got up on a lazy Sunday morning at 11:30, but due to daylight saving it was 10:30.All gadgets which had daylight savings logic had automatically changed, but few were still showing 11:30 leaving me confused! So after confirming the time few times, I came to conclusion about the correct time!

But more confusion was yet to come in office.

After Daylight Saving Time got over, the time was adjusted back. But what everybody forgot was the fact that there are few areas in US like Arizona and Hawaii which don’t follow DST. So our system calculations based on date & time started behaving strangely in the first few days as the time zone setting was not taken into account for Arizona and other non-DST zones. It took some time to get into the bottom of problem.

But why they do they go for day light savings?
One of the major reasons being quoted is energy conservation. It is said that amount of electricity consumed depend on when sun sets and when people go to bed. As people have same bedtime through out the year, by artificially moving sunset one hour late, the amount of energy consumed is reduced. To prove this, there are statistics which shows that DST reduces the country’s electric usage by one percent.

DST also is said to increase opportunities for outdoor activities.Most people plan outdoor activities during the increased hours of daylight.Other benefits include lesser traffic accidents and lesser crimes!

By the way, this day light savings is not followed in every country. Countries close to north pole or south pole , the daylight period is longer in summer.In countries near equator or in the tropics,the day and night are nearly the same length.So DST is usually not useful in the tropics and in equator.

There is one interesting incident I read about this DST.
In September 1999, the Palestinian West Bank was on daylight saving time while Israel had just switched back to standard time. West Bank Palestinians prepared time bombs and smuggled them inside Israel to their men, who misunderstood the time on the bombs. As the bombs were being planted, they exploded—one hour too early—killing three terrorists instead of the intended victims—two busloads of people!!

Opponents of DST claim that there are not enough benefits of DST.Disturbed sleeping patterns, less productivity due to sleep-disrputed workers, accidents, confusion for people traveling are the several reasons to criticize DST.

I heard India also once tried DST when it was in war with Pakistan.

I’ll leave with you to think on this..
Supposing some lady gives birth to twins on the night when DST is reverted back.Say one child is born at 1:50 am.At 2 am the clock is turned back one hour.Now another child is born which actually is born at 2am but due to DST it is born at 1am, making it the older of two child even though it is the younger. Doesn’t it have legal effects in cases of properties or rights?

What do you say?

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