Changing Time

Daylight-saving time comes at 2 a.m. Sunday. Don't get up for it. There's nothing to see. It's not like a lunar eclipse.

But do set your clocks ahead one hour before you go to bed. Remember the mnemonic: Spring forward; fall back. The daylight isn't actually saved. One hour of sunlight is "transferred" from the morning, when most of us are asleep, to the evening, when we can make more use of it. In any event, daylight-saving gladdens the heart of energy conservationists and the barbecue and sporting-goods industries.

Fire departments recommend resetting the clocks as an occasion to check the batteries in smoke detectors. Good advice. Citizens of Arizona, Hawaii and much of Indiana, which do not indulge in daylight-saving time, should check their detectors anyway.

As for that hour of lost sleep, don't worry. It's a small price to pay for the coming of warm weather. Besides, we'll get it back when we reconvene in this space the last weekend of October, inform

We are about to encounter -- it is as inevitable as the sunrise - a period of confusion, misunderstanding and resentment between North America and Western Europe. No, I am not referring to Iraq. British Summer Time began last Sunday, while Daylight Saving Time begins next Sunday almost everywhere in North America except in the one province that no one outside of Canada knows how to spell anyway.

This ushers in a week of utter chaos. Airline schedules, expressed in local time, are meaningless. (Just how long is that flight?) Residents in the time zone that spans Toronto to Miami have to remember (and no one ever tells them) that their familiar five-hour time difference with London has suddenly become . . . let me see, now . . . is it four hours or six? Phone calls are missed; romance is imperilled, business is put at risk and then, seven days later, it's all over.

We hear a lot about the need for multilateralism, the imperative to make the United Nations relevant. The UN needs a success story. It is time to change the time we change the time.

It is time to settle for the people of the great Atlantic alliance a common date on which we can all spring forward. There is no problem at the other end. We will all fall back, in both BST and DST, on Oct. 26. But Europe changes its clocks at 1 a.m., North America at 2 a.m. -- it's those pesky French again, report

According to clock or watches that synchronize themselves with the Boulder atomic clock contain tiny, basic antennas and radio receivers that decode the WWVB data, and then set the clock's time according to that information. This is useful for keeping clocks accurate in general, not just for the two weekends a year when much of the country springs forward or falls back.

Devices that synch to atomic clocks may soon be even more accurate. NIST researchers are now working on next generation "atomic clocks" that will be based on optical rather than microwave frequencies. Such clocks are expected to be as much as 100 times more accurate than the current systems.

Meanwhile, some devices still aren't capable of synchronizing themselves with the flux and flow of daylight-saving time. According to Mike Fenton, who works at Circuit City in New York, some wristwatches, alarm clocks and many answering machines, coffee makers, cameras, car clocks, microwaves, VCRs and other devices do not reset themselves.

Daylight saving was then re-established nationally early in World War II, in an effort to save energy by ensuring people spent most of their waking hours during daylight. And in 1973, in response to the Arab oil embargo, Congress put most of the nation on year-round daylight-saving time for two years in hopes of saving additional energy.

But in the absence of a crisis, states are not legally obliged to adhere to daylight-saving time. Tech support workers in Hawaii, most of Indiana and the majority of Arizona, except for the Navajo Reservation, will not be besieged with reset assistance requests. They do not observe daylight-saving time.

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