The radical plan to destroy time zones

[The] map at the top of this post gives you an idea of what the world looks like now, and what it would like if we instead stuck to single system of Universal Time. The logic of Universal Time is strikingly simple: If it’s 7 in the morning in Washington D.C., it’s 7 everywhere else in the world too. There are no time zones. Wherever you are, the time is the same.

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.)

But in many other ways, […] the new system would make communication, travel and trade across international borders far, far easier.

I’m all for it. As someone in the UK who works a lot with people in the US and Europe, time zones can confuse.

And it’s not just internationally that time zones have surprising effects. I remember listening to an episode of Freakonomics Radio which looked at sleep. It turns out that people in the United States who left at the western edge of a time zone get more sleep, and that:

permanently increasing sleep by an hour per week for everybody in a city, increases the wages in that location by about 4.5%.

One could imagine that the effect would be similar across country borders, where two countries do not share the same time zone.

(Via Washington Post.)

18 thoughts on “The radical plan to destroy time zones

  1. First let’s let’s start with the € as the reserve currency all over the world; ‘severed from the nation state’ (Duistenberg/Aachen). Time zones are easily interpreted bij our computers/watches etc. isn’t it? Living in the UK and change 🙂

    • Even with watches and computers, I can’t tell you how many times I or others have gotten things wrong. Because each person speaks in their local time zone, and you need to check carefully to make sure you’re on the same page. And then there’s daylight saving time, which starts and ends at different times in different countries…

  2. First let’s let’s start with the € as the reserve currency all over the world; ‘severed from the nation state’ (Duistenberg/Aachen). Time zones are easily interpreted bij our computers/watches etc. isn’t it? Living in the UK and change 🙂

    • Even with watches and computers, I can’t tell you how many times I or others have gotten things wrong. Because each person speaks in their local time zone, and you need to check carefully to make sure you’re on the same page. And then there’s daylight saving time, which starts and ends at different times in different countries…

  3. For accuracy: those who live on the eastern edge of time zones tend to get more sleep and get paid more. “…the western city gets roughly an hour more of sunlight – which means that people there tend to go to bed later. But they have to wake up the same time as people in the eastern city – so, on average, they get less sleep.”

  4. For accuracy: those who live on the eastern edge of time zones tend to get more sleep and get paid more. “…the western city gets roughly an hour more of sunlight – which means that people there tend to go to bed later. But they have to wake up the same time as people in the eastern city – so, on average, they get less sleep.”

  5. I fail to see any advantage to this plan. You still need to know when the normal work / eat / sleep hours are in someone’s locale to know when to communicate on what subjects. You can have a world clock at your fingertips on your smartphone / tablet / computer, and a good contacts app will manage the time zones for you, for each contact.

    I used to read a lot of Isaac Asimov’s writing, both SF as well as his books collecting his science column for “The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction” (aka “F&SF”). Asimov often obsessed over calendar reform and extolled the virtues of a calendar where each date was always on the same day of the week; most proposals had a few days – e.g., New Year’s Day or Leap Day – that weren’t a day of the week. I never saw the point; who really cares if February 15th is on Monday this year and Wednesday next year? And do you really want your birthday to be on, say, Monday forevermore?

    This time zone proposal strikes me as being as pointless as Asimov’s calendar obsession. The only people it benefits IMHO are the ones that write the SW to manage it.

  6. I fail to see any advantage to this plan. You still need to know when the normal work / eat / sleep hours are in someone’s locale to know when to communicate on what subjects. You can have a world clock at your fingertips on your smartphone / tablet / computer, and a good contacts app will manage the time zones for you, for each contact.

    I used to read a lot of Isaac Asimov’s writing, both SF as well as his books collecting his science column for “The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction” (aka “F&SF”). Asimov often obsessed over calendar reform and extolled the virtues of a calendar where each date was always on the same day of the week; most proposals had a few days – e.g., New Year’s Day or Leap Day – that weren’t a day of the week. I never saw the point; who really cares if February 15th is on Monday this year and Wednesday next year? And do you really want your birthday to be on, say, Monday forevermore?

    This time zone proposal strikes me as being as pointless as Asimov’s calendar obsession. The only people it benefits IMHO are the ones that write the SW to manage it.

  7. How utterly stupid. I mean, sure, this system is an interesting brainteaser and makes sense in the realms of sci-fi, but in everyday use it’s beyond cumbersome: You get rid of a small problem that *some* people suffer from, but you introduce a big problem that *everybody* will suffer from. What do i mean? Well, not only is it weird to remember your own, local time (“i have to get up at 3pm now”), but once you travel you have to remember a new set of rules for the entire duration of your stay (“here i’ll have to get up at 11am”). Similarly, it won’t remove the time difference between 2 offices in different locations around the world, since you’ll now have to know the opening hours of all the offices involved.

    • TOTALLY TRUE!!!! 12 noon is based on the sun being overhead directly and that makes sense. The calendar thing well that could use some help – Feb with 28 days? Jul and Aug each with 31 days – why? How about Mar 30 Apr 31 May 30 Jun 31 Jul 30 Aug 31 Sep 30 Oct 31 Nov 30 Dec 31 Jan 30 Feb 30 – That way Sep would be the 7th month, Oct the 8th Nov the 9th and Dec the 10th. Feb would have 31 on the leap year. My thoughts

  8. How utterly stupid. I mean, sure, this system is an interesting brainteaser and makes sense in the realms of sci-fi, but in everyday use it’s beyond cumbersome: You get rid of a small problem that *some* people suffer from, but you introduce a big problem that *everybody* will suffer from. What do i mean? Well, not only is it weird to remember your own, local time (“i have to get up at 3pm now”), but once you travel you have to remember a new set of rules for the entire duration of your stay (“here i’ll have to get up at 11am”). Similarly, it won’t remove the time difference between 2 offices in different locations around the world, since you’ll now have to know the opening hours of all the offices involved.

    • TOTALLY TRUE!!!! 12 noon is based on the sun being overhead directly and that makes sense. The calendar thing well that could use some help – Feb with 28 days? Jul and Aug each with 31 days – why? How about Mar 30 Apr 31 May 30 Jun 31 Jul 30 Aug 31 Sep 30 Oct 31 Nov 30 Dec 31 Jan 30 Feb 30 – That way Sep would be the 7th month, Oct the 8th Nov the 9th and Dec the 10th. Feb would have 31 on the leap year. My thoughts

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