Time! Fascinating Facts That You May Not Know!

Kerry Wolfe at Mental Floss posted an interesting article titled 28 Fascinating Facts About Time.  Before you click over, here are three of my favorites…

We can thank the railroad industry for standardizing our time zones.  Until the 19th century, towns and villages synchronized their clocks to the local solar noon. This created thousands of local times that all varied and made scheduling transportation a major headache. Train schedules in different cities had to list dozens of arrival and departure times for each train to account for all the mini time zones. On November 18, 1883, railroad companies in the United States and Canada began using a system very similar to the standardized time zones we still use today. In the UK, the railroad companies began using a standard London-based time in 1840. (I didn’t know this.  It’s crazy that it was the railroad industry that brought standard times zones about! – Craig)

Though a lot of people believe daylight saving time was adopted to keep farmers happy, that’s a myth.  The first person to seriously advocate for daylight saving time was an entomologist who wanted more sunlit hours to look for insects after work in the summer. He proposed his idea to a scientific society in New Zealand in 1895. (Wow!  I had always been taught daylight saving time was brought about to give farmer’s more daylight!  Another myth busted. – Craig)

Even with the advent of standardized time, people still struggled to keep their clocks in sync.  One London family used this to their advantage, and made a living by selling people the time. An astronomer named John Belville would set his pocket watch to the time at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. He would then travel around the city and visit his network of subscribers, who paid to set their own clocks by Belville’s pocket watch. After Belville died in 1856, his wife, and then later their daughter Ruth, carried on the tradition. Ruth continued to sell the time until World War II. By then she was in her eighties, and a couple of factors led to her timely retirement: Improved technology had made her role less important, and the war was making treks around London too dangerous.  (Hats off to John Belville for figuring out how to use his pocket watch to provide for his family.  Crazy that his wife was still able to do this as late as the start of World War II — that’s less than 100 years ago.  If there is money to be made, someone will figure out a way. – Craig)