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History & Culture

What is daylight saving time? History, purpose, and origin

The idea of ​​daylight saving time (DST) is first included in the article of the American scientist and diplomat Benjamin Franklin: “Early to bed, and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” Though, he made this proposal in a humor and thus, was not taken seriously. Then, in 1895, New Zealand insect hunter George Vernon Hudson, and in 1907-9, British contractor golfer William Willett, and in 1916, politician Robert Pearce was not taken seriously as well. However, in 1916, Germany and Austria started the summer time (daylight saving time) practice and the application spread all over Europe.

Benjamin Franklin as a humorist

FRANKLIN, Benjamin. Economie, in Journal de Paris, Numéro 117. Paris.
Benjamin Franklin’s article in Journal de Paris.

Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the USA, lived in Paris in 1784. He wrote a humorous article titled “An Economical Project” for the Journal de Paris magazine. One evening, after discussing how to economize on lamp oil with his friends, he went to bed and think about it until 4 am, but he woke up at 6 am because of the noise. Sun rays were coming in because the maid forgot to close the shutters. He was amazed that the Sun rose at this early. He could not make the Parisians whom he described this incident believe that the mornings were sunlit. A philosopher friend had assured him it was impossible, and said darkness might have come out of the shutters. He then started to make calculations. If all Parisians wake up with the Sun in the summer, they would use Sunlight instead of candlelight, thereby saving 30,000 tons of candles per year. He suggested that the candles should be rationed, the government should collect taxes on shutters, the church bells should start ringing as soon as the sun rises in the morning, and even firing a cannon if necessary.

How did daylight saving time start?

United Cigar Stores retail chain supports the US summer time law of 1918.
The United Cigar Stores retail chain supports US daylight saving time law of 1918.

Canadian provinces Manitoba, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia followed this new practice. With the standard time law of 1918, the US adopted daylight saving time. The purpose of this practice is to allow people to benefit more from the summer evenings before going to bed by shifting one hour of the morning ahead or in other words by sliding the clock one hour ahead of the Sun. Technically, the clocks in the US change from 1:59 am to 3:00 am in spring and from 1:59 am to 1:00 am in autumn. In Europe, this change takes place not at 2:00 am but 1:00 am.

Daylight saving time generally starts at the beginning of March and ends at the end of October. But the idea was very controversial from the beginning. Some places have previously refused to implement this practice which has often led to chaos: During a 35 mile (56 km) bus journey from Moundsville, West Virginia to Steubenville, Ohio, drivers have to set their clocks exactly 7 times. In 1965, twin cities Minneapolis and St. Paul chose different dates to start the daylight saving time. For this reason, those who had a job in these two cities on both sides of the Mississippi river experienced complete chaos. Daylight saving time is now mandatory in all states except Arizona and Hawaii.

Sometimes twin babies also fall prey to daylight saving time. In November 2007, a woman named Laura in North Carolina gave birth to a boy at 1:32 am and his twin sister born 34 minutes later. But the daylight saving time was started between the two births, and the girl’s birth time was recorded as 1:06 am. If, say, 50 years later, the court has to make a decision based on who was born first, this may be a difficult decision when the memories are faded and the witnesses passed away.

Is daylight saving time useful?

Daylight saving time / summer time
During World War II, summer time application increased human efficiency by providing more light time in the summer evenings. In Britain, this efficiency has been increased even more with the “double daylight saving”.

The debate about whether daylight saving time is really beneficial still continues. The advocates of this practice say they love long summer evenings, because one hour is taken from the morning (when people are sleeping), and one hour is added to the evening (when people are standing). As a result, this practice reduces the time that the lights need to be on, thereby saving energy. In 1986, the first day of the daylight saving shifted from the last Sunday of April to the first Sunday in the United States. According to the transportation ministry, this change is estimated to save the US, 300,000 barrels of oil every year. In New Zealand, the power consumption decreases by 3.5 percent when the daylight saving starts.

When Indiana switched to daylight saving time, there was a significant increase in power consumption for the first 3 years. This may have been due to the higher use of air conditioning on long and hot summer evenings. However, perhaps the most important result of the application is the small but significant (1 percent) reduction in traffic accidents. Though pedestrians have an increased risk of accidents right after the practice ends.

Daylight saving time opposites say that they hate getting up earlier, and if the application is launched too early in the year, the children have to enter school in the dark and this is dangerous. Moreover, there are now integrated clocks on most electronic appliances in homes; Therefore, when the application starts, we need to change not only our wall clock in the hall, our alarm clock and wristwatch next to the bed, but also the clock on the oven, microwave, radio, television, central heating.

Those who oppose daylight saving time say that they hate getting up earlier, if the practice starts too early in the year, the children have to go to school in the dark and this is dangerous. Moreover, since most of the electronics in the houses now have integrated clocks, when the application starts, people need to change not only the wall clock in their living room, but the alarm clock and the wrist watch beside their bed, and also the clock on the oven, microwave, radio, television, and central heating.

Daylight saving time or the summer time is now applied to the whole of North America, parts of South America, all over Europe and Russia, and parts of the Middle East. Although once used in most of South America, Australia, and the Far East, it was later abandoned. In Central Africa, however, it has never been used, as there is always 12-hour daylight all year round in the equator region, and the daylight savings do not provide any benefit.

We have come a long way from the Stone Age people determining the winter solstice time, to the invention of the standard calendar, and the universal time that deviates less than a second per year. We owe these achievements to our intelligence, creativity, and the tools that we have developed to measure such a concept as “time” that is always marching away.