Stuff You Should Know: One Global Time Zone and Permanent Calendar

In place of the usual Friday FunLink and since it’s been exactly a month since I’ve offered a Stuff You Should Know post, I’m shifting gears today.

A short while ago I saw an interesting article today in the Washington Post entitled “The Radical Plan to Destroy Time Zones.” It fits into the category of the SYSK feature because Johns Hopkins professors Hanke and Henry are seeking to implement this unification of global time as well as a permanent calendar (see above for a screen shot of it) on January 1, 2018.

The WaPo interview doesn’t quite flesh out the day to day changes that a single time would require except to observe:

While it may ultimately simplify our lives, the concept would require some big changes to the way we think about time. As the clocks would still be based around the Coordinated Universal Time (the successor to Greenwich Mean Time that runs through Southeast London) most people in the world would have to change the way they consider their schedules. In Washington, for example, that means we’d have to get used to rising around noon and eating dinner at 1 in the morning. (Okay, perhaps that’s not that big a change for some people.)

One of the first shifts would be to go completely to 24 hour time as “am” and “pm” would just be confusing. With this in place, the mind-shift would take time (pun intended) but it wouldn’t be impossible. To translate the example above, our rising time would be about 1200 (6am) with dinner time 13 hours later at 100 (7pm) and bed time 3 hours after this at 400 (10pm). Most digital watches can already be set to show 24 hour time and adding a second set of numbers to analog clocks is commonly done as well. Clocks would still run at the same rate with the only shift at 0000 UTC on 1 Jan 2018 in which every clock in the world would jump simultaneously to 0000. Back end tech work would have to be done on computer clocks, but we already showed something similar could be achieved a decade and a half ago with the Y2K fix.

As the proponents in the article note:

I (Henry) recall when my elderly mother in Canada said to me, oh, it was hot today, 30 degrees! If she could change [from measuring temperature in Fahrenheit to measuring it in Celsius], everyone can change!

Yeah, we tried that Imperial to Metric switch back in the 1970’s and early 1980’s and how did that work out for the U.S.? Yet, ambitious people with websites keep trying…

The proposal for a new calendar, dubbed the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar has it’s own Wikipedia page, running example of the new time/date, and articles in Live Science and Wired dating back to the end of 2011. And since the proponents acknowledge that there isn’t any world governing body to implement these changes, this massive (but sensible) shift would have to come through a global on-line/social media campaign. So, here I am doing my part.

Two advantages that I see – no more Friday the 13th ever again and my birthday (Jan 20th) would always fall on a Friday (yes, bummer to all of those whose birthdays would forever fall on a Monday!).

And a disadvantage for some – Halloween would have to be moved to a different date as 31 October would cease to exist. This is not as hard as one might think as we already regularly do it here in Central Ohio – to the bewilderment and ridicule of even people like Stephen Colbert:



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