Little Bits of History

Spring Forward – Fall Back

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 31, 2011

Daylight Savings Time

March 31, 1918: Daylight Savings Time [DST] goes into effect for the first time in the United States. Most of the world is not bothered by this phenomenon today. The world is divided into three types of time keepers. Those who use DST, those who have never used DST (much of Africa and Indonesia], and those who no longer using DST [China, India, Egypt, much of South America]. The use of the time change is mostly in the Northern Hemisphere’s high latitudes.

The idea was first proposed in 1895 by George Vernon Hudson. He was an London-born New Zealand entomologist and astronomer. Much of the electricity of the time was used to light homes in the evening. It was hoped that extending the daylight hours into the evening would lessen electrical usage. Today, with lights, heating, and air conditioning usage, this savings is no longer seen. There is, however, more daylight for sporting events after the workday is completed. It may also encourage more evening shopping excursions.

DST was first used in 1916 by Germany and its World War I allies. The hope was to reduce coal usage. Britain and some allies soon followed suit. Russia waited until 1917 to join in and the US waited even one year longer. How we reckon time is a human construct. The sun rises and sets as it sees fit throughout the year. Manipulating when the daylight is visible can be accomplished by simply changing the time. However, in order to keep the calendar intact, the clocks must at some point be adjusted backward. So in the Fall, we set clocks backwards an hour.

There are benefits and drawbacks to the time switch. Energy use was supposed to be a major reason for the change, but there has been no consistent finding with study after study each showing something different. Retailers and sports concerns find it advantageous to have extra daylight in the afternoon and evening. There have been mixed results to studies concerning public safety and DST with some saying it saves lives, while others show different results. There are effects on health and sleep patterns being disrupted and the issue of having to remember to actually change the clocks twice a year. There are also concerns in the computing world with programming needed to affect changes with the machines.

“Chinese buildings are like American buildings, with big footprints. People don’t care about daylight or fresh air.” – Helmut Jahn

“Don’t forget it’s daylight savings time. You spring forward, then you fall back. It’s like Robert Downey Jr. getting out of bed.” – David Letterman

“I don’t mind going back to daylight saving time. With inflation, the hour will be the only thing I’ve saved all year.” – Victor Borge

“Love prefers twilight to daylight.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Also on this day:
Equality – In 1886, Abigail Adams pleads with her husband to include women as voting adults.
Eiffel  Tower – In 1889, the French tower was inaugurated.

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One Response

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  1. GYSC said, on April 1, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Linked to this site, too much fun!


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