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Timekeeping across the ages

Hi Matt:

Back when I was a kid, not too many people had wristwatches. This was not a problem, however, as all you had to do was turn on the radio to any station and, within three songs, the DJ would announce the time. Nowadays, I have noticed that you could die of old age before someone would announce the time on the radio. At least, on the stations I listen to. What’s up with that?

— Cram

There isn’t much need for the radio personalities (the term they prefer) to announce the time since everyone’s cell phone has a clock in it that automatically syncs up with time zones and Daylight Saving Time changes. Before you could carry a tiny transmitter around with you, providing regular updates for the correct time was a public service provided by the radio stations. I bet you also remember having to call the telephone operator to get the time when the clocks in the house stopped for some reason or another. When was the last time you thought to do that?

Having the correct time has, at various points in history, been a matter of critical importance. It was the invention of an accurate marine chronometer that allowed sailors to finally determine accurate longitude (by comparing local time on the sea to the “mean time” in Greenwich) in the early 18th Century. Before that, mariners said their prayers and sailed east or west until they spotted land, using the skies to steer an accurate north/south path. Chronometry was the major aid to navigation until the advent of radio navigation.

Accurate timekeeping these days happens courtesy of atomic clocks, which measure the resonant frequency of radioactive isotopes and achieve unparallelled accuracy in chronography; losing or gaining less than one second in 20 million years. Someday, these clocks will be accurate enough to measure shifts in time caused by relativity.

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Hi Matt:

Back when I was a kid, not too many people had wristwatches. This was not a problem, however, as all you had to do was turn on the radio to any station and, within three songs, the DJ would announce the time. Nowadays, I have noticed that you could die of old age before someone would announce the time on the radio. At least, on the stations I listen to. What’s up with that?

— Cram

There isn’t much need for the radio personalities (the term they prefer) to announce the time since everyone’s cell phone has a clock in it that automatically syncs up with time zones and Daylight Saving Time changes. Before you could carry a tiny transmitter around with you, providing regular updates for the correct time was a public service provided by the radio stations. I bet you also remember having to call the telephone operator to get the time when the clocks in the house stopped for some reason or another. When was the last time you thought to do that?

Having the correct time has, at various points in history, been a matter of critical importance. It was the invention of an accurate marine chronometer that allowed sailors to finally determine accurate longitude (by comparing local time on the sea to the “mean time” in Greenwich) in the early 18th Century. Before that, mariners said their prayers and sailed east or west until they spotted land, using the skies to steer an accurate north/south path. Chronometry was the major aid to navigation until the advent of radio navigation.

Accurate timekeeping these days happens courtesy of atomic clocks, which measure the resonant frequency of radioactive isotopes and achieve unparallelled accuracy in chronography; losing or gaining less than one second in 20 million years. Someday, these clocks will be accurate enough to measure shifts in time caused by relativity.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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