Which two countries are 24 hours apart?

The time zones or how Phileas Fogg managed to win his bet

How did Phileas Fogg manage to win his bet in Jules Verne's classic “Around the World in 80 Days” and actually be back in England “in eighty days”? Thanks to the time zones and the date line. Because although the two sides of this border are only two hours away from each other, there is still a whole day between them.

The "rotations" of the earth

The planet earth knows different types of "rotations" (rotations). First there is the rotation around the sun, which is also called the orbit of the earth. It takes the earth about a year to go around the sun. We owe the seasons to this rotation and inclination of the earth's axis. The second rotation is that of the earth around itself, comparable to a top. This rotation, known as the earth's rotation, will interest us even more, as it lasts about 24 hours and is responsible for the change between day and night. The time is not the same everywhere on earth: while the sun is shining on one half of the world, it is night on the opposite side.

The time zones

In the past, this phenomenon did not play a role for a long time. It only became a serious problem when the devices for measuring time became more precise and the modes of transport became faster. Travelers in particular were put to the test in their patience, as it was not uncommon for the times of departure and arrival at the place of departure to be different. Cities and villages decided for themselves which form of time measurement was valid in this place. It could happen, for example, that even on short journeys, a watch suddenly seemed to move forward or backward by several minutes if its owner compared his own with the watches at the place of arrival.

In the middle of the 19th century, the Italian Giuseppe Barilli had the idea of ​​dividing the earth's surface into different zones and thus unifying time: the hour of birth of the time zones. These time zones relate to the previously introduced system of longitudes, also known as meridians. The time zones are consequently invisible bands that extend from the north to the south pole and each represent a different time. At the end of the 19th century, Sandford Fleming proposed a system with 24 time zones and selected the Greenwich meridian, which is at the level of England, as the reference line. It is also known as the prime meridian, according to which all other time zones are based. In Fleming's system, each of the 24 time zones corresponds to an hour of the day. The originally simple system is now a lot more complicated and richer by several time zones, since in some countries quarter-hour or half-hour time differences apply.

Regardless of the time zone, however, one important rule applies: at midnight the date changes and we move from one calendar day to the next. In addition to the prime meridian through Greenwich, the date line is a second important reference line. It lies approximately on the 180th degree of longitude and thus opposite the prime meridian. No matter what time of day you cross the date line, you definitely have to change the date. When crossing from west to east, you get to the previous calendar day, when crossing from east to west you get to the next. In "Around the World in 80 Days" Phileas Fogg believes on his return to London that he has lost his bet because, according to his time calculation, he had been out for a little more than eighty days. However, when he was circling the earth in an easterly direction, he forgot to set his date back by one day when crossing the date line. So Fogg was actually only eighty days away and won his bet.

The date line can be a challenge for residents of the islands near it. A whole calendar day can still pass on a journey that lasts only two hours and only covers a short distance. At the request of Kiribati, a state whose islands were on both sides of the date line until 1995, the border was moved a little so that the whole country is in one time zone. Thanks to the new course of the date line, the residents of Kiribati were the first to greet the new millennium on New Year's Eve 1999. Back then, the date line was a reason for many tourists to travel to Kiribati to attend the festival. And even if the temptation for such a long journey is no longer so great today, the date line remains a curiosity of our planet.

Summer and winter time

Do you also get annoyed if you can sleep an hour less with the time change in spring? Are you already looking forward to autumn when the weekend is suddenly an hour longer?

The reason that many countries on earth set the clocks an hour forward in spring and back an hour in autumn is an economic issue. The conversion should allow a more efficient use of daylight and thus save costs for the generation of artificial light. If we put the clocks forward in spring, the time window in which there is insufficient daylight is shifted more to bedtime. So winter time is actually the "right" time. The idea of ​​clock change has a long history; Benjamin Franklin proposed a similar measure as early as 1784. However, although time changes were introduced briefly during the two world wars, it was not until the 1973 oil crisis that the decisive factor in favor of a more general introduction of daylight saving time. However, this is mainly in states that are further away from the equator. In the vicinity of the equator, the duration of the available daylight hardly fluctuates over the course of the year, so summer time makes little sense. It is now clear that summer time does not noticeably reduce energy consumption even in countries far from the equator. Again and again, critics even call for the abolition of summer time. They justify this, among other things, with the negative effects of the measure on health and in labor and transport.

A little tip on how you can remember the type of change with the help of Swiss German:

  • in the F.In rühling, the clock is turned one hour on the last Sunday in March "füre “adjusted. The time is advanced from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m.
  • in the Herbst, on the last Sunday in October, the clock is set by one hourHindere “adjusted. The time is set back from 3 a.m. to 2 a.m.

On this interactive map you can see in real time what time it is in different parts of the world.