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125 Years of Longitude 0 0' 00" At Greenwich

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the does-anybody-really-know-what-place-it-is dept.

Transportation 429

An anonymous reader writes "This week marks the 125th anniversary of the International Meridian Conference, which determined that the prime meridian (i.e., longitude 0 0' 00") would travel through Greenwich, UK. One of the reasons that Greenwich was agreed upon 'was that 72% of the world's shipping already depended on sea charts that used Greenwich as the Prime Meridian.' Sandford Fleming's proposal of a single 24-hour clock for the entire world, located at the center of the Earth and not linked to any surface meridian, was rejected / not voted on, as it was felt to be outside the purview of the conference."

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429 comments

Happy birthday to 180th meridian too ! (4, Informative)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#29820733)

And don't forget the 180th meridian that came with it. When you cross the 180th meridian, you have to set your watch back/forward 23 hours !

Quite a few people are unaware of it ;-))

http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1919PA.....27..416F [harvard.edu]

Re:Happy birthday to 180th meridian too ! (3, Insightful)

FunPika (1551249) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821067)

People still use watches!? Everyone I know just whips out their cell phone when they need to find out what time it is these days.

Re:Happy birthday to 180th meridian too ! (5, Funny)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821255)

I recently flew from LA to Fiji. On the way forward, you land two days after departure, on the way back, you land at the same time you departed...

It's pretty disturbing.

Re:Happy birthday to 180th meridian too ! (3, Interesting)

riflemann (190895) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821623)

Flying Sydney, Australia to California is similar. There have been numerous times when I departed Sydney after lunch on Saturday, spend 14 hours in a plane, then land at San Francisco in time for breakfast on _the same day_.

Amusing chat over IM with a friend one such day:

Them: How's your Saturday?
Me: Good, had lunch in Sydney then breakfast in San Francisco after that.
Them: wtf???

Re:Happy birthday to 180th meridian too ! (2, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821265)

Watches seem to be becoming popular again, even if only as a fashion accessory, especially for men. Next time you're watching TV, keep an eye out for large, flashy watches; they're very common.

Re:Happy birthday to 180th meridian too ! (2, Interesting)

niktemadur (793971) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821079)

Reminds me of that limerick:

A young rocket scientist named Wright
once traveled much faster than light
He set out one day, in a relative way
and arrived on the previous night

Instead of going through the hassle of upgrading an Orion Project [wikipedia.org] spaceship, all one has to do is fly conventionally from Honolulu to Tokyo.
Now they tell me!

Re:Happy birthday to 180th meridian too ! (1)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821225)

Hehe... got you ! ;-)

I said most people were not used to this...

It is actually the other way around, you have to fly from Tokyo to Honolulu to land on the previous day ;-)

Your comment was nevertheless very interesting ;-)

Cheers,

Re:Happy birthday to 180th meridian too ! (3, Informative)

TBoon (1381891) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821145)

Actually, you'd have to set it 24 hours when crossing the 180th. The (theoretical) timezone-limits for +12 and -12 are only 7.5 degrees each, compared to 15 degrees for the all others. Of course in real life, it only crosses land i Russia and Fiji, and they bend the dateline around themselves to avoid this, so this should only happen at sea.

Re:Happy birthday to 180th meridian too ! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29821175)

No, timezones are one hour apart and the international date line is the edge between two timezones, so while you cross the date line, you also cross into another timezone: 1d+-1h. This also means that the international date line is not even theoretically the 180th meridian, just like the 0 meridian is the center, not the edge of a time zone.

Re:Happy birthday to 180th meridian too ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29821187)

Forced proofreading doesn't work. Make that +-(1d-1h).

Re:Happy birthday to 180th meridian too ! (1)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821315)

Yep, you are right, of course no two adjacent timezone have the same time ! Even if it"s not the same day on each side !

By the way, you can cross the 180th meridian (officially dateline with exceptions mentioned by another poster) without changing date :

Coming from Tokyo, you cross the line at 23:30 on say, October 21th, once the line crossed, you are now at 0:30, October 21th ;-))

Re:Happy birthday to 180th meridian too ! (1)

Clairvoyant (137586) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821397)

There actually is the +/-12h zone that is both +12 and -12, depending on where in within that zone you are. For example, time between Christmasislands and Hawaii are 24 hours from eachother.

See wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Date_Line

PS: timelines are not always 1h apart. There are 40 timezones in total.

Re:Happy birthday to 180th meridian too ! (2, Interesting)

3247 (161794) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821433)

No, timezones are one hour apart and the international date line is the edge between two timezones,...

Dead wrong.

Just look at, no read Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]: Most of the IDL is actually in international waters at the 180th meridian and separates the +12:00 time zone from the -12:00 time zone. The difference is 24:00, which is the usual time span of one calendar day.

However, inhabitated land masses and islands tend to have deviations in their time zones, yielding differences between 21 hours (between Russia and Alaska) and 25 hours (between Tonga and International Waters around it).

Re:Happy birthday to 180th meridian too ! (1)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821599)

You are technically correct !

But in truth, the +12/-12 timezone is the same timezone with the dateline in the middle.

This image makes things a lot clearer:

http://www.worldtimezone.com/ [worldtimezone.com]

Since GMT is 0 if we had +12 timezones and -12 timezones we would end up with 25 timezones ;-))

So +12 and -12 take the same space as as one unique regular timezone would take.

125 MORE years until the US gets time... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29820755)

I wonder how much longer it will take for the US to catch up?

For example, we continue to teach date formatted in a completely nonsense format (MM/DD/YYYY) instead of either high to low (YYYY/MM/DD) or low to high (DD/MM/YYYY) like the rest of the world. Plus using AM/PM instead of 24 hour ("Military Time") again like the rest of the civilised world.

Don't even get me started on our lack of metric....

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (4, Funny)

Boronx (228853) | more than 4 years ago | (#29820779)

We're currently 5-10 hours behind, not too far, but we don't seem to be gaining.

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (2, Interesting)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#29820897)

It seems at least Slashdot is not behind, I think that I have noticed before that mod points are attributed/expired at 0 hour UTC, 4 or 5 hours before midnight EDT/EST ! ;-))

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (3, Funny)

Goffee71 (628501) | more than 4 years ago | (#29820997)

Continental drift will help you out eventually.

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29821487)

Actually the US currently drifts away from Greenwhich.
But on the long term you'll go around the whole plante and arrive at London Central at 9:12 on 23.03. 382038273920.

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (2, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#29820785)

Don't even get me started on our lack of metric....

But you have a beautiful metric, in bodyparts!

It's perfect for D&D. "I advance five feet" is much more immersive than "I advance two meters".

Pity that you didn't make a corresponding time system replacing seconds, hours and days by heartbeats, digestions and bodyrottings.

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (4, Insightful)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#29820815)

Most likely you only think "feet" are better than "meters" in D&D because you're used to imperial units and they feel more "natural" to you. As someone who grew up in a country where inches and feet are units only used when dealing with things imported directly from the US I always have to stop and think for a second when trying to remember how long "five feet" is, or how heavy something that is "150 pounds" really is, and don't get me started on the British use of "stones" for weight...

/Mikael

It's because meters and feet are the same (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29820901)

They're BOTH standard lengths.

A stride or a handspan is equally appreciable by anyone with legs or hands, but only if they are nonstandard.

The metric system's touted benefit of normal conversion is incorrect, by the way. You can have the same benefit with imperial by measuring in kilofeet. How many feet in a kilofeet? 1000. A megafeet? 1000000. How simple! Much better than that metric thing!

See how silly that argument is?

As to the "liters are so easy to work out", that too is bunk. Your water is 1.0064 kg per litre at STP. At 110C it's a thousandth of that. And how many people care about plain old water? They work with milk, beer, oil, treacle and so on. So you still need to remember weird conversions with metric.

And the only thing left is the "how many inches in a chain?" query.

It's only ever asked in maths class.

NOBODY CARES how many inches in a chain.

NOBODY measures the distance to London in miles, yards, feet and inches. Miles does just fine. How many miles in 1000 miles? So easy to convert!

But back on topic, why put the clock at the centre of the earth?

1) Who's going to put it there
2) Who is going to be able to check it
3) WHY???

The third one is real. Why? Is it because 99% of the rest of the world didn't get the meridian (for good reasons at the time: do you change 76%+A LOT of all maps or do you change the 24% that don't use Greenwich? No brainer).

What does it give us?

Nothing.

What does it solve?

Leap seconds.

The ONLY problem with that is that you need your time aware product to be updatable for leap seconds and that adds a few cents to your $100 GPS locator.

But missing out on leap seconds means the stars change location faster and we have to update all the astronomy books and astronomy software and astronomy hardware.

The costs are about equal.

It's the gadget manufacturers trying to offload a cost onto someone else.

Just recognise it for what it is.

Re:It's because meters and feet are the same (3, Insightful)

bkr1_2k (237627) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821147)

Clearly you're not a woodworker. Small measurements are where the metric system shines... large measurements people just estimate anyway.

Re:It's because meters and feet are the same (2, Interesting)

borizz (1023175) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821471)

Quickly, convert from 1234 kiloinch to miles! The beauty of the metric system is that there is one unit for distance, which is a meter. All others are just prefixes. A kilometer is just a kilo meters, so 1000 meters. All you have to do is move the decimal point. With the imperial system, going from the small distance unit (inch) to the large one (miles) requires a lot of conversion. And then you have a third, medium unit called the feet, just to make it a little more unwieldy.

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (5, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821029)

I always have to stop and think for a second when trying to remember how long "five feet" is,

What's to remember? Five feet is the reach of your longsword.

And I don't care where you live, you should always carry a longsword.

And 30 feet of rope.

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (1)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821171)

You could go for even more immersion and say things like "I advance one longsword's length", and "always carry 6 longsword's lengths of rope".

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (3, Informative)

voidphoenix (710468) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821353)

While a longsword's [wikipedia.org] reach is about 5', that includes the arm that wields it. Longswords are about 4' in overall length, with around 3' of blade. That rope would be 7-1/2 longswords, or 10 longsword-blades. :)

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (1)

3247 (161794) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821523)

Or you could just use "steps" (where one RPG "step" = 1 metre).

Well, they're huge steps... but the real-word "foot" isn't quite the average shoe size, either.

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (2, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821407)

It's perfect for D&D. "I advance five feet" is much more immersive than "I advance two meters".

Is that dwarf feet, orc feet or hobbit feet?

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (4, Insightful)

putaro (235078) | more than 4 years ago | (#29820789)

While MM/DD/YYYY seems illogical, it maps exactly to the way you say it - April 1st, 2010 = 04/01/2010

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#29820827)

"nth of month, year" isn't exactly uncommon either.

Also, the written form Americans use causes a lot of confusion when dealing with non-Americans who use yyyy-mm-dd, dd/mm/yyyy or yyyy/mm/dd.

And as always, I think grandpa Simpson's classic comment really sums up the attitude behind why so many Americans are reluctant to switching; “My car gets forty rods to the hogshead, and that's the way I likes it!”

/Mikael

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29820913)

Saying "April 1st" feels more natural to English-speaking people than "1st of April" for the same reason that saying "blue car" feels more natural than "car of blue". It's because we put adjectives before nouns, while in e.g. French it's the opposite, and explains why they prefer to say "1er Avril".

Of course it's not an exact analogy, for sure, and it doesn't explain why Germans also use DD/MM/YYYY (although their simply being on the Continent may explain it) but I think this is largely the reason for it.

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29820987)

Saying "April 1st" feels more natural to English-speaking people

Not to *this* English speaker. Some English speakers come from places other than the US.

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29821119)

Bullshit. The only reason it feels more natural is that it is the only way you've ever learnt it.

The rest of the English speaking world uses "1st of April". "April 1st" is an Americanism that is no more correct than "1st of April".

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29821133)

Saying "April 1st" feels more natural to English-speaking people than "1st of April" for the same reason that saying "blue car" feels more natural than "car of blue". It's because we put adjectives before nouns, while in e.g. French it's the opposite, and explains why they prefer to say "1er Avril".

Are you trying to claim that Americans say "April 1st" because April is an adjective? April is a noun. The reason that non-American English speakers say "1st of April" is because it's the "1st [day] of April". When you put it like that, "April 1st" sounds weird.

It boils down to the fact that what your used to is what sounds natural to you. There are many examples of very odd constructions in English that seem natural only because they are familiar.

This is yet another "it's not what I'm used to hearing, therefore it's wrong/inferior" argument. (Fahrenheit versus Celcius springs to mind)

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29821267)

Are you trying to claim that Americans say "April 1st" because April is an adjective? April is a noun. The reason that non-American English speakers say "1st of April" is because it's the "1st [day] of April". When you put it like that, "April 1st" sounds weird.

It boils down to the fact that what your used to is what sounds natural to you. There are many examples of very odd constructions in English that seem natural only because they are familiar.

This is yet another "it's not what I'm used to hearing, therefore it's wrong/inferior" argument. (Fahrenheit versus Celcius springs to mind)

It amuses me how you say it's all down to regional differences after making a value judgment (""April 1st" sounds weird."). As someone born and raised in England now living permanently in the US these sorts of arguments just seem silly. One is not more correct than the other and if you understand what the person is saying why waste your time attempting to prove how right you are. It's a pointless exercise as the fact is if you are arguing on whether "April 1st" or "the 1st of April" is correct you are both simultaneously wrong and right as it's not a matter of grammatic, syntactic or societal rightness it is a cultural thing. Quit being such babies and accept that there are differences and they should be celebrated not squabbled over. These sorts of arguments are simply examples of the milder and still culturally acceptable forms of xenophobia. I saw it when I was in the UK and I see it now, though to a lesser extent about the UK.

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29821309)

Your vagina sounds sandy.

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (1)

koiransuklaa (1502579) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821313)

Sorry but that is not just an inexact analogy, that's a total failure as an analogy: "car of blue" is not at all like "1st of April". The first one is clearly wrong, the second is clearly correct.

Greenwich... mmmm (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821275)

And as always, I think grandpa Simpson's classic comment really sums up the attitude behind why so many Americans are reluctant to switching; “My car gets forty rods to the hogshead, and that's the way I likes it!”

/Mikael

Homer himself would say: Greenwich... mmmm.. pizza!

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821385)

I believe the way they put it when we write our notes for logs is: Use a system for dates. It doesn't matter if it's not the standard in north america. But use a system that works for you. Sometimes retraining someone to a new one simply screws them up.

Mine is yyyy/mo/dd, my friends is yyyy/dd/mo, one of the inspectors(OPP) that I was taught by uses dd/mo/yyyy. All three are valid.

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (4, Insightful)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 4 years ago | (#29820837)

While MM/DD/YYYY seems illogical, it maps exactly to the way you say it - April 1st, 2010 = 04/01/2010

uhm alot of people think in languages other than US English

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29820879)

uhm alot of people think in languages other than US English
No wonder yo make so many mistakes and think so wrongly

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (3, Interesting)

razvan784 (1389375) | more than 4 years ago | (#29820895)

ISO 8601 [wikipedia.org] doesn't favor the US or the other notation.

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (5, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821061)

It was a good decision. There's no YYYY-DD-MM notation so it's not going to get confused with that. It also means a simple alphanumeric sort will sort the date correctly, a decent number of people in the world (Mostly in China and Japan) are already familiar with the notation, and it maintains logical consistency if you put 24 hour time after it (YYYY-MM-DD-hh:mm:ss)

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (1)

Clairvoyant (137586) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821481)

Unless you add the whole ISO8601 Week or day-number thing to it! You'll end up with YYYY-DDD or YYYY-Www which is a pain to sort.

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29820937)

People in other English speaking countries say it correctly too (e.g. "[the] first of April two thousand and ten"). Americans say it wrong because they write it wrong.

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29821575)

People in other English speaking countries say it correctly too (e.g. "[the] first of April two thousand and ten").

Shouldn't that be "[the] first of April ten and thousands two"?

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29820971)

Certainly. And yet English is the de facto language of business the world over. Why is it unfair to expect the same of a system of dating?

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29821017)

its not so when is america moving over to the english way of dd/mm/yyyy?

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (0, Troll)

CrashandDie (1114135) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821035)

It's not because English is a vernacular language for most people that it is the de facto lingua franca for the rest of the world. Let's not forget that for a very long time, French was the language of diplomacy for a few centuries, and the official language in the European Union, until the UK and Ireland joined in and bullied their way through.

Please don't confuse lingua franca and a vernacular language. The latter is used to accomodate one of the parties as it's their mother tongue. The former is used as a form of respect, a way of saying "neither of our mother tongues is appropriate for this discussion, so using a neutral language will ease our conversation".

In other words: The rest of the world speaks English because: a/ it's an easy language, b/ most of English speakers are too lazy, or can't be bothered to learn another language.

Really, native English speakers shouldn't be chauvenistic about the fact the rest of the world is speaking their language, they should be ashamed by their inability to accomodate other cultures, and humbled by the fact other people go through the length of learning theirs.

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (1)

bkr1_2k (237627) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821193)

English is considered by linguists to be one of the hardest languages to learn, because it doesn't really follow any of its own rules. I'll agree we should be ashamed as native English speakers that more of us can't speak other languages.

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (1)

quickgold192 (1014925) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821361)

I always was told this too, until I tried making that argument to some of my international friends. They scoffed and said that English was actually very easy to learn compared to languages like French and German. (They were Spanish, fyi) One caveat: English pronunciation is actually very difficult to learn. (Why are book and blood pronounced so differently?)

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (1)

borizz (1023175) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821533)

Being Dutch, I agree with them. My English is a lot better than my German, even though I live about 10 miles from the German border. It helps that a lot of TV shows are in English and English is the language of the internet. On the other hand, I've also heard that Dutch is a very hard language...

On pronunciation, there's a great poem on the internet that starts with this:
Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (1)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821619)

As you mention, the main issues in English are spelling and pronunciation which are extremely irregular, and phrasal verbs which often have little logic to them. Take 'get over' (as in stop being upset about something) vs 'get across' (as in make a point) for example.

On the other hand our verb conjugation is very easy when compared to Romantic languages due to it's heavy use of modifiers instead of having to learn 40 odd words per verb.

Also we have don't have the (IMHO ridiculous) gender system for all nouns whether they are things that actually have a gender or not, which simplifies use of adjectives among other advantages.

The spelling and pronunciation issues are pretty bad though.

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821677)

It's even worse when you look at the pronounciation differences between North American English (that's right Canada) and the English spoken in the rest of the former Commonwealth countries. Nothing like a completely different set of vowels to confuse people.

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (2, Insightful)

glwtta (532858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821643)

English is considered by linguists to be one of the hardest languages to learn, because it doesn't really follow any of its own rules.

I'd really like to know where you are getting that from; I've heard that sentiment before, but only from native English speakers.

As someone who had to learn English (and attempted a few others), I can tell you that it's far and away one of the easiest languages you can learn (assuming your native language is somewhere in the Indo-European family).

English can't really follow its rules because it doesn't have any:
  • there isn't a noun case system to speak of (pronouns can have up to three cases - almost two dozen forms to memorize!)
  • there's minimal word agreement
  • word order is mainly only used for emphasis
  • there are basically only two tenses, with most tense/aspect forms created with auxiliary verbs
  • you need to learn three non-finite forms for verbs, the vast majority of which are regular, and the ones that aren't are usually irregular for obvious morphological reasons (yes, the irregular exceptions are fairly "regular" in their own way)

(Not that I'm saying any of this is bad - it makes English a very flexible, though somewhat less expressive language)

It's true that English has a lot of idiomatic usage (and a fairly extensive vocabulary), but that only matters if you are trying to become as proficient as a native speaker.

Learning enough English for effective communication is easier than with almost any other language.

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (4, Insightful)

dtmos (447842) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821289)

Really, native English speakers shouldn't be chauvenistic [sic] about the fact the rest of the world is speaking their language, they should be ashamed by their inability to accomodate [sic] other cultures, and humbled by the fact other people go through the length of learning theirs.

The difficulty for native, American English speakers is, which other language does one learn? (Native American, English speakers have their own set of problems. :-) ) In high school and college I took Spanish, and became relatively proficient at speaking, reading, and writing it. In my first job, though, I spent five or so years working closely with Japanese, took Japanese language classes, and got relatively proficient at speaking it, too -- but my Spanish suffered terribly. Then my job changed, and I went instead to Germany. I got moderately proficient in German, but lost practice in Japanese (to say nothing of my Spanish). I then returned to the US, in an environment where foreign language skills are of absolutely no value at all.

I'm now in a situation where I remember three foreign languages poorly, interchange words and syntax between them with embarrassing frequency and, after what seems like a lifetime of learning languages and accommodating other cultures, can only speak English fluently. What have I accomplished? I worked hard at learning my coworkers' and customers' languages, largely because I didn't want to feel chauvinistic about others' use of English, but couldn't get enough life-long practice in each to become and/or remain fluent.

I am totally impressed with anyone who learns English as a second language -- I'm sure there's a language somewhere with more exceptions to its rules, but I'm unaware of it -- but, as a lingua franca it's usually clear that English is the language to learn. It's less clear which language a native English speaker should learn.

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821659)

Funny, most of the Europeans I know that speak English do most of their speaking in it to others who learned it as a second language as a solution to living on a continent with a dozen languages and no logical reason to know all of them.

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (2, Interesting)

3247 (161794) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821663)

It's not because English is a vernacular language for most people that it is the de facto lingua franca for the rest of the world. Let's not forget that for a very long time, French was the language of diplomacy for a few centuries, and the official language in the European Union, until the UK and Ireland joined in and bullied their way through.

That's b/s. The European Communities did never have a single official language; it used all of the Member States' languages in parallel from the beginning. (Well, some institutions do have a working language, eg the European Court of Justice uses French internally, probably because its located in Luxembourg.)

BTW, when the UK and Ireland joined, there was no European Union.

Please don't confuse lingua franca and a vernacular language.

Please don't confuse modern French and lingua franca, which originally referred to the Frankish language, a West Germanic language only remotely related to Romance languages such as French.

In other words: The rest of the world speaks English because: a/ it's an easy language, b/ most of English speakers are too lazy, or can't be bothered to learn another language.

That's only because English is already useful enough, so there is no need to learn a different language.

The reason for English being such prevalent is, of course, the British Empire spreading it.

I do NOT say it like that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29820845)

That's a yankeeism that is not traditionally used even in other parts of the US, let alone the broader English-speaking world. The standard way to say it would be "the first of April" which maps quite naturally to 1/4.

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (1)

Ptur (866963) | more than 4 years ago | (#29820885)

Exactly, it maps to the way *you* say it.

We say "1 april 2010" so DD/MM/YYYY is more logical.

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (5, Insightful)

PhunkySchtuff (208108) | more than 4 years ago | (#29820903)

Yet you have a holiday called the Fourth of July...

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (0, Troll)

Choatic Emptiness (1661231) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821027)

TOUCHE Dear watson!! I believe we have a winner... gotta love the yanks. It's my way or the Gi-JOE way *rolls eyes*

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29821033)

Well, it's called Independence Day, but I'll grant that you don't hear many people saying "Thirty-first of October" or "Twenty-fifth of December" in reference of those holidays...

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29820909)

The rest of the world says it "1st of April, 2010", you typical ethnocentric, ignorant American.

When USians leave out the year (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29820911)

why then is it 1st Apri?

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (1)

jman11 (248563) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821049)

You say month day year because that is how is written in short hand. In countries that write it dd/mm/yy you'll hear 1st of April 2009 more often than April 1st 2009,

Re:125 MORE years until the US gets time... (2, Funny)

dword (735428) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821009)

Do you have any idea what that would do to the March Pi Day [wikipedia.org]?

We still live in the past (0)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#29820773)

Local time is one of those aspects of reality that could already be set to a more technologically requiring standard.

What would you set as a reasonable "perfect time" system?

I think it should be a combination of universal time and real (sun driven) time. So It could be 10:30 in universal time and 21:17 in sun time.

You'd go to work (for a local example) with solar time and expect a global movie release or an international package transport in universal time.

However, that system is not very reasonable. :)

Re:We still live in the past (1)

Zarhan (415465) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821005)

I agree. At the same time you should abolish the whole "daylight savings" time. Just use UTC for everything, and then simply state that stores 3 hourse before local midday and close 8 hours after (for the 9am-8pm hours).

Re:We still live in the past (4, Insightful)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821191)

stores [open] 3 hours before local midday

You imply that the entire population can consistently and correctly subtract 3 from a number.

Saudi Arabia tried that (4, Interesting)

_merlin (160982) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821109)

It's called Riyadh Solar Time - look it up. It last one year year before they realised how much of a pain in the arse it was. Also, Japan used to have per-city time zones in five-minute increments, and that was a real pain for doing business, or calculating journey travel/arrival times. Discrete time zones for relatively large areas are just more practical in general.

no meteor shower for us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29820865)

just thick black clouds like nothing we've seen yet again.

we also note that despite a possibly less criminal gov't., almost everything we read has been reduced/transformed into some lie as a result of professional media manipulation. a lot slicker than the spew of the good ol' boys nukem network.

Greenwich, UK? (1)

MrNemesis (587188) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821047)

How many other Greenwich's are there at 0 longitude?

Re:Greenwich, UK? (1)

mrbester (200927) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821413)

And why is it "London, England" (like you meant anywhere else EVER) if you can specify a bit of London and get away with the political entity?

timecube.com (1)

bronney (638318) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821149)

nuff said.

Re:timecube.com (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821271)

On a scale of 1 to 10 for batshit crazy, that is an 11. Seriously, I would be afraid to be in a room with that guy.

Re:timecube.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29821323)

Ok... how long till he commits mass murder?
Not joking, this site reminds me of the last idiot who entered gym and opened fire.

Re:timecube.com (1)

Peter Simpson (112887) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821577)

Nice use of color and nice variety of fonts. Particularly like the large characters, as it makes his message (whatever that is) hard to ignore.

And the photo. Nice. It breaks up the text and personalizes the page, gives you the comforting feeling that there's a real
"Dr Gene Ray, Cubic and Wisest Human" you could call up and speak to (not that most of us would choose to).

The best part, IMHO, is the subtle humor at the end of the page - the link to page two.

Definitely, as EdIII rates him, an 11. I might even go 12.

WTF?? (2, Insightful)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821163)

he proposed a single 24-hour clock for the entire world, located at the centre of the Earth and not linked to any surface meridian.

I have tried finding a reference to this and can't. What does it mean by being located at center of the Earth and not linked to any surface meridian? Time zones are linked to surface meridian's right? So how would a system work that was not linked to anyplace on the surface?

Re:WTF?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29821269)

9AM wouldn't be work start time everywhere in the world.

The time would be the same everywhere - there would be no time zones

9AM UK - I start work. however in the US when it is 9AM here (and light and ready for me to go) it will be 9AM in the USA too - however your work start time will become 5AM as listed - It will however be exactly the same time of day that you would normally start.

No time zones, whole world is 9AM wherever you are, whether its middle of night, lunchtime, work time, sleep time.

The time you start work will be what changes.

Re:WTF?? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821615)

There'd still be somewhere that 9am was equivalent to 9am on the old system. Or there'd be somewhere that the sun was at zenith at 12 noon. Thus the people living there would see no changes, and it would effectively be based on their zone.

UTC and Computers (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821295)

Many people forget to deal with, or at least poorly handle time zones in software. I think it would be much easier to just adapt to using a single time for the entire planet ... they're just numbers. Who cares if you need to wake up at 23:00?

One of my favourite Jeff Atwood quotes is "All you UKers who live in UTC+0 are a bunch of dirty, filthy, stinking time zone *cheaters*".

Re:UTC and Computers (1)

Neil (7455) | more than 4 years ago | (#29821399)

Except we mess up the simplicity by being on "British Summer Time" (daylight saving time, one hour ahead of UTC) as civil time for much of the year.

Roll-on Sunday! (when we go back, and I get an extra hour in bed :-)

Prime Meridian Moved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29821331)

What people may not be aware of is that the GPS prime meridian, as defined by the WGS 94 Geoid, is 100 metres east of the original - see this BBC article http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8266883.stm [bbc.co.uk]

The reason is that this kept the 90 degree west meridian in the same place the the original. Guess where that is...

Tells you where the power and money was when the GPS system was set up.

The original Meridian was the island of "El Hierro (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29821393)

[from the wikipedia ]
El Hierro

The island was known in European history as the prime meridian in common use outside of the future British Empire. Already in the 2nd century A.D., Ptolemy considered a definition of the zero meridian based on the western-most position of the known world, giving maps with only positive (eastern) longitudes. In the year 1634, France ruled by Louis XIII and Richelieu decided that Ferro's meridian should be used as the reference on maps, since this island was considered the most western position of the Old World. (Azores lie further west, but they weren't discovered by Europeans till early 15th century, and their identification as part of the Old World is uncertain.) It was thought to be exactly 20 degrees west of the Paris meridian, so indeed the exact position of Ferro was never considered. Old maps (outside of Anglo-America) often have a common grid with Paris degrees at the top and Ferro degrees offset by 20 at the bottom. Louis Feuillée also worked on this problem in 1724.
[end] ...the british, always stealing stuff

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Hierro#The_.22Meridian_Island.22

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