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Daylight saving time 2018: 7 myths and facts about changing the clock
DST has implications on our history, our health, and even our chances of being the victim of a crime.
Sunday, March 11 marks the beginning of Daylight Saving Time (DST). Starting at 2 A.M., we move our clocks one hour ahead. It always begins the second Sunday in March when we spring ahead, and on the first Sunday of November when fall behind an hour.
Though we encounter it twice a year, most people don’t know much about it, other than to soak up more sunlight in spring or enjoy an extra hour of sleep in fall. For instance, many people call it Daylight Savings Time. Saving is actually singular. Fascinating stuff.
But that's not all. Why not increase your knowledge of this bi-annual ritual?
7 myths and facts about DST
1. Myth: America was the first country to practice Daylight Saving Time
Benjamin Franklin by David Rent Etter (1835). Credit: National Parks Service.
Although the idea originated with Benjamin Franklin, who believed we could conserve candles if people got up consistently with the daylight, it was probably first practiced in Britain. Even so, Germany is the first recorded country to have taken up the practice starting in May 1916, as an effort to try and save fuel during World War I. The US Chamber of Commerce backed the measure and America soon followed suit. An hour longer of daylight meant more leisure time, increasing sales of things like baseballs, barbecue accoutrements, and golf balls.
2. Fact: Not every state in the US practices DST
The Arizona desert. Credit: The DigitalArtist Pixababy.
For instance, sun-baked Arizona and Hawaii refuse to change their clocks. Both Massachusetts and Maine have considered getting off DST, but haven’t scrapped the whole thing quite yet. Internationally, 70 nations practice Daylight Saving Time. But that’s fewer than 40% of all the countries in the world. China and Japan, for instance, don’t practice DST.
3. Myth: America adopted Daylight Saving Time to help farmers
A farmer. Credit: Neil Palmer (CIAT) Flickr.
The reason given is that it gave farmers more time to work in their fields. Actually, farmers fought against widespread adoption. DST means an hour less in the morning to milk the cows or get harvested crops to market. What’s more, some feared it would take us off of “God’s time.” In the United States, DST was repealed shortly after World War I ended, and wasn’t instituted nationwide permanently until 1966.
4. Fact: Daylight Saving Time can affect your health
Credit: Robert Shields, US Army.
Losing or gaining an hour may not seem too big of a change. But in fact, it can jolt the body’s internal body clock, causing a higher risk of sleep disorders, heart attacks, strokes, and miscarriages. Sudden changes in circadian rhythms can affect fertility as well. A 2013 study published in the journal Open Heart, found a 25% increase in the number of heart attacks occurring the day after a spring DST. Fatigue, decreased productivity, and even cluster headaches are also more common.
5. Myth: Daylight Saving Time saves energy
Credit: Benita 5, Pixababy.
The US Congress passed the Energy Policy Act in 2005, extending DST by another month, for a total of eight. This was the second time this occurred. The first was in 1984. They thought this action would save electricity, and so were perhaps too hasty. A 2008 US Department of Energy study found that the decrease was modest, just 0.003%. While a study out of the University of California-Santa Barbara found that energy use actually might increase. The state of Indiana, after it adopted DST, found it experienced increased consumption. They believe, during the period of extra sunlight, people were running their air conditioners for longer.
6. Fact: New York City stayed on Daylight Saving Time after World War I
Credit: Kai Pilger. Pexels.
Once World War II came around, the country went back on DST (President Roosevelt called it “War Time”) to conserve fuel once again. It dropped off again after the war. But New York kept DST, and due to its stature as a world financial hub, other areas naturally followed suit. So a strange dichotomy was set up, where cities were following DST, while rural areas were not. At least, not until the Uniform Time Act of 1966, which forced states to either adopt DST or not. The act was signed into law by then president Lyndon B. Johnson. Before that, you could take a 30 mile drive in many places in the country and pass through several different times, depending upon whether the locality adopted DST or not.
7. Fact: You’re less likely to get robbed during Daylight Saving Time
Credit: Tobias "ToMar" Maier Wikimedia Commons.
That’s according to a 2015 Brookings Institute paper. Researchers discovered that during the fall DST, robbery fell 7%, while during the spring one, robbery fell a full 27%, as the extra hour of daylight in the evening kept would-be robbers away.
How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.
- A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
- It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
- While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Tribalism and discrimination<p>One question the "Genetic Pressure" series explores: What would tribalism and discrimination look like in a world with designer babies? As designer babies grow up, they could be noticeably different from other people, potentially being smarter, more attractive and healthier. This could breed resentment between the groups—as it does in the series.</p><p>"[Designer babies] slowly find that 'everyone else,' and even their own parents, becomes less and less tolerable," author Eugene Clark told Big Think. "Meanwhile, everyone else slowly feels threatened by the designer babies."</p><p>For example, one character in the series who was born a designer baby faces discrimination and harassment from "normal people"—they call her "soulless" and say she was "made in a factory," a "consumer product." </p><p>Would such divisions emerge in the real world? The answer may depend on who's able to afford designer baby services. If it's only the ultra-wealthy, then it's easy to imagine how being a designer baby could be seen by society as a kind of hyper-privilege, which designer babies would have to reckon with. </p><p>Even if people from all socioeconomic backgrounds can someday afford designer babies, people born designer babies may struggle with tough existential questions: Can they ever take full credit for things they achieve, or were they born with an unfair advantage? To what extent should they spend their lives helping the less fortunate? </p>
Sexuality dilemmas<p>Sexuality presents another set of thorny questions. If a designer baby industry someday allows people to optimize humans for attractiveness, designer babies could grow up to find themselves surrounded by ultra-attractive people. That may not sound like a big problem.</p><p>But consider that, if designer babies someday become the standard way to have children, there'd necessarily be a years-long gap in which only some people are having designer babies. Meanwhile, the rest of society would be having children the old-fashioned way. So, in terms of attractiveness, society could see increasingly apparent disparities in physical appearances between the two groups. "Normal people" could begin to seem increasingly ugly.</p><p>But ultra-attractive people who were born designer babies could face problems, too. One could be the loss of body image. </p><p>When designer babies grow up in the "Genetic Pressure" series, men look like all the other men, and women look like all the other women. This homogeneity of physical appearance occurs because parents of designer babies start following trends, all choosing similar traits for their children: tall, athletic build, olive skin, etc. </p><p>Sure, facial traits remain relatively unique, but everyone's more or less equally attractive. And this causes strange changes to sexual preferences.</p><p>"In a society of sexual equals, they start looking for other differentiators," he said, noting that violet-colored eyes become a rare trait that genetically engineered humans find especially attractive in the series.</p><p>But what about sexual relationships between genetically engineered humans and "normal" people? In the "Genetic Pressure" series, many "normal" people want to have kids with (or at least have sex with) genetically engineered humans. But a minority of engineered humans oppose breeding with "normal" people, and this leads to an ideology that considers engineered humans to be racially supreme. </p>
Regulating designer babies<p>On a policy level, there are many open questions about how governments might legislate a world with designer babies. But it's not totally new territory, considering the West's dark history of eugenics experiments.</p><p>In the 20th century, the U.S. conducted multiple eugenics programs, including immigration restrictions based on genetic inferiority and forced sterilizations. In 1927, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that forcibly sterilizing the mentally handicapped didn't violate the Constitution. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes wrote, "… three generations of imbeciles are enough." </p><p>After the Holocaust, eugenics programs became increasingly taboo and regulated in the U.S. (though some states continued forced sterilizations <a href="https://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/" target="_blank">into the 1970s</a>). In recent years, some policymakers and scientists have expressed concerns about how gene-editing technologies could reanimate the eugenics nightmares of the 20th century. </p><p>Currently, the U.S. doesn't explicitly ban human germline genetic editing on the federal level, but a combination of laws effectively render it <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">illegal to implant a genetically modified embryo</a>. Part of the reason is that scientists still aren't sure of the unintended consequences of new gene-editing technologies. </p><p>But there are also concerns that these technologies could usher in a new era of eugenics. After all, the function of a designer baby industry, like the one in the "Genetic Pressure" series, wouldn't necessarily be limited to eliminating genetic diseases; it could also work to increase the occurrence of "desirable" traits. </p><p>If the industry did that, it'd effectively signal that the <em>opposites of those traits are undesirable. </em>As the International Bioethics Committee <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">wrote</a>, this would "jeopardize the inherent and therefore equal dignity of all human beings and renew eugenics, disguised as the fulfillment of the wish for a better, improved life."</p><p><em>"Genetic Pressure Volume I: Baby Steps"</em><em> by Eugene Clark is <a href="http://bigth.ink/38VhJn3" target="_blank">available now.</a></em></p>
A leading British space scientist thinks there is life under the ice sheets of Europa.
- A British scientist named Professor Monica Grady recently came out in support of extraterrestrial life on Europa.
- Europa, the sixth largest moon in the solar system, may have favorable conditions for life under its miles of ice.
- The moon is one of Jupiter's 79.
Neil deGrasse Tyson wants to go ice fishing on Europa<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="GLGsRX7e" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="f4790eb8f0515e036b24c4195299df28"> <div id="botr_GLGsRX7e_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/GLGsRX7e-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/GLGsRX7e-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/GLGsRX7e-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Water Vapor Above Europa’s Surface Deteced for First Time<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9c4abc8473e1b89170cc8941beeb1f2d"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WQ-E1lnSOzc?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
A unique exoplanet without clouds or haze was found by astrophysicists from Harvard and Smithsonian.
- Astronomers from Harvard and Smithsonian find a very rare "hot Jupiter" exoplanet without clouds or haze.
- Such planets were formed differently from others and offer unique research opportunities.
- Only one other such exoplanet was found previously.
Munazza Alam – a graduate student at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian.
Credit: Jackie Faherty
Jupiter's Colorful Cloud Bands Studied by Spacecraft<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8a72dfe5b407b584cf867852c36211dc"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/GzUzCesfVuw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Scientists discover burrows of giant predator worms that lived on the seafloor 20 million years ago.
- Scientists in Taiwan find the lair of giant predator worms that inhabited the seafloor 20 million years ago.
- The worm is possibly related to the modern bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois).
- The creatures can reach several meters in length and famously ambush their pray.
A three-dimensional model of the feeding behavior of Bobbit worms and the proposed formation of Pennichnus formosae.
Credit: Scientific Reports
Beware the Bobbit Worm!<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1f9918e77851242c91382369581d3aac"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_As1pHhyDHY?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The idea behind the law was simple: make it more difficult for online sex traffickers to find victims.