Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Power of Time

Tomorrow morning at 2:00 a.m., suddenly, it will be 1:00 a.m. Just like that, in the time it takes public officials to snap their fingers, time will flip backwards an hour, or so it'll seem to those of us enduring the end of daylight savings time.

I'm not a big fan of daylight savings. I know they say it saves energy, but how? When it's dark, people turn on the lights. How can shifting the clock one hour save daylight? This is a mystery I'm likely to never really understand.

In the spring, the onset of DST means that morning suddenly comes too early. It's rude. Even more obnoxious is the unceremonious dump into darkness in the fall when they unplug DST for the winter.

OK, I'll admit loving the luxurious feeling of waking up so early, but it's freaky at the other side of the day when the dark arrives without warning, landing (with a heavy thud) much too early. Should it make a big difference that it's 5:30 instead of 6:30? Seems so arbitrary, but the change into and out from under DST always has its impact, at least on me.

I've always wondered if time would be easier to understand from outer space. Seems like watching the earth from a distance might help me really get that the thing I call "time" is very limited, measured as fractions of the spin of the earth, on its own axis as well as around the sun.

There must certainly be many ways to perceive time that I can't even imagine. Probably there are different kinds of time, maybe, who knows?

Those of us living in places with DST will be "given an extra hour" tonight. But - how can that be so?

Oh never mind, Reya. Change the clocks and get a good night's sleep. Okay, OK.


Hammer said...

I never get used to it being dark when I leave the office. I feel cheated all the way into spring.

Time measurement and a person's sense of its passing is largely to do with your time markers, I guess. Farmers think in seasons, students in semesters, soldiers in tours & deployments, cab drivers in minutes, lawyers and consultants in billable hours, stuff like that. It's no coincidence that the busier and more hectic your line of work, the faster time passes.

From a stationary position (relatively anyway) in outer space I guess you'd measure in what? Comets? Hard to say. Hey, it worked for Mark Twain. ("I came in with Halley's comet in 1835. It's coming again next year (1910), and I expect to go out with it. The Almighty has said no doubt, 'Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.'")

Reya Mellicker said...

I love that Mark Twain factoid!

Astrophysicists use atomic time, something I don't even pretend to understand, to measure it. I loved the annotated dates in Star Trek. Seemed more accurate.

I've written about calendars before, how no one can square up minutes and seconds with the solar year or the lunar year. I find that funny. The Maya were really smart. They had a weekly calendar (20 day weeks!), a ritual calendar, and an ongoing numbering of days since a specific time. They didn't even try to synch the three. I love the idea of three-dimensional time!

Reya Mellicker said...

According to wikipedia, atomic time is:

Since 1967, the International System of Units (SI) has defined the second as the duration of 9 192 631 770 cycles of the radiation which corresponds to the transition between two energy levels of the ground state of the cesium-133 atom.

... huh??

Barbara said...

All I know is I love falling back and gaining an hour and I hate springing forward and losing one. In between I resent that I need to do things like go into Blogger and change the time setting (which I refused to do in the Spring so now it will finally be correct again.)

I wonder if anyone has ever studied just what this change twice a year really buys us? Did you know that Hawaii and Arizona don't switch?

Pod said...

i don't understand either, though it is spring here now, and daylight saving last week means we have light for longer. but still the podbrain is confused!

lettuce said...

we changed our clocks last weekend. I hadn't realised, till I turned my computer on on Sunday mnorning. It had changed by itself of course....

I was quite glad of the extra hour. But will regret it in March when they change back.

i love the chalk clock.

lettuce said...

oh and loving the CD too, thanks so much.

Reya Mellicker said...

Lettuce, I have a much more interesting CD (playlist) I'm working on now. You might receive a second CD....we'll see how organized I am this week.

I love the chalk clock, too. Stumbled across it on my way home yesterday.

Barbara, my blogger setting adjusts itself automatically. How weird that you have to change your manually. bizarre.

bohemiangirl said...

I am an early bird so having the sun come up earlier in the morning is a joy but seeing it dip below the horizon so soon in the evening - blegh. Love that chalk photo!