Re: Hong Kong handover honored by leap second?

Seth Golub (
Tue, 1 Jul 1997 15:33:49 -0700

Dan Kohn <> writes:

> Did you know, for instance, that railroads forced the invention of
> Time Zones? There simply was no need before people could be moved
> around quickly.

There was never a need for them. There was a need to coordinate
events in a non-local context, but time zones were only one solution,
and not necessarily the best one.

As long as people are more interested in how events relate to hours of
local daylight, then time zones are useful. For measuring particular
moments in time, they are a pox upon our systems.

If I want to impress a friend in New York with how early I woke up, I
want a common frame of reference. I'd like to be able to just say, "I
woke up at 9:00am!" and impress my friend. Of course, they have to
be at work at 8:00am every morning, so maybe our reference frame isn't
as common as we pretend it is.

If the people putting on the ceremonies in Hong Kong publicize when
everything is happening, and I want to watch it happen, I have to
figure out how to convert from their time to mine. I don't care if
the sun will be up there, whether people are going to be tired, and
whether it's during normal business hours for them. I want to know
when I should turn on the TV, and how it will affect MY day.

While I don't expect us to ever switch to a decent measurement of
time*, I do wonder how much longer we'll use time zones.