Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Going on Mecca Time!

Some day we all may be looking to Mecca for the time. Or not. There are delusionals in every culture. The Arab world is no exception. Once they get over the fact that they long ago ceded their scientific knowledge to western Europe, then they will realize that the rest of the world isn't changing to Mecca time any time soon.

To begin, official time isn't kept by a giant clocktower. The giant clock tower in Greenwich is a mechanical device which isn't as accurate as the atomic clocks that are around today. Coordinated Universal Time is based on these atomic clocks and clock towers (or computers) are synced to those.

If Mecca wanted to become the "official" time keeper, they should have come up with time zones and the idea of standardization more than a century and a half ago. As it is, the British did largely due to maritime requirements for navigation, and railway requirements for standarized timetables. Even if the Greenwich Observatory vanished overnight tonight, the location of the Prime Meridian wouldn't change. And my clocks would still read 6:00AM when I roll out of bed (depending on how many times I hit the snooze button).

So, perhaps the Arab world should focus on an accomplishment that is easier to change than the entire time keeping system of the world. The US has been on the verge of going metric for 40 years now. There is a lot of sand over in Arabia, perhaps the semiconductor field might be easier to break into. (Of course to compete with Taiwan, Japan, and Korea you would have to admit that women are just as capable as men in the sciences.)

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