The Importance and Evolution of Time In the History of Mankind

Published: 2021-10-01 21:20:08
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One of the most useful things we use today is time. Time has always been an important subject of study in philosophy and science. Mankind has always been preoccupied with measuring and recording the passage of time. Time can even be considered “common language between people in a fast paced world” (Web).
Timekeeping was essential in developing vast civilizations. Especially when it came to knowing when to plant and harvest crops for the community and knowing the important events in a year such as the season changes. They used many different instruments such as a sundial, the clock, monuments, the Egyptian calendar, and even the stars to keep track of time.
“The oldest clock known to man was the earth as it relates to the sun, the moon, and the stars. When the earth rotates, the side facing the sun changes leading to its apparent movement from one side of the earth, rising across the sky, reaching a peak, falling across the rest of the sky, and eventually disappearing below the earth on the opposite side so where in appeared earlier” (Web). Very little is known about timekeeping in the prehistoric times but evidence and artifacts have been recovered on how they used the earth, the sun, and the moon to determine time it was.

They figured out that the brightness and the darkness correlate together. Once they figured out that at a certain time of the day it would start to get dark and at a certain time in the morning it would start to become bright, it sparked the idea of time and days.
The earliest form of the tracking of the days was the Egyptian calendar. This calendar was created based on the stars and the sun. They realized that the “Dog Star” reappeared in the eastern sky just before sunrise after several months of being invisible. They also learned that soon after it reappeared the annual flooding of the Nile River came.
The “Dog Star” to this day is known as Sirius. They used the combination of events to generate a calendar of 365 days that was made up of 12 months and each month was about 30 days long. Later on they realized that Sirius also corresponded with the moon, making them create a lunisolar calendar. This was the very first calendar in history. We aren’t exactly sure how they came up with 365 days but we suspect that they counted the days up to and from the appearance of the Sirius.
When you see the clock, we’ve always wondered who created time, who created the numbers on the clock and who created the clock. It dates all the way back to 3500 B.C.E., when the first instrument ever to be used to measure time could've been just a simple stick standing up in the ground. As the sun beams down, the shadow of the stick would lead to the noon point which meant that the sun was at its highest point in the sky. The stick method of telling time eventually led to the creation of the obelisk.
The obelisk was a four sided stone pillar that was built by the Egyptians. The monument was very similar to the Washington monument today. The monuments were used to create shadows from the sun which formed a sundial. With this method it led to the idea of dividing the day into two parts similar to daytime and nighttime. Many civilizations created their own method of organizing time such as the Middle East and North Africa.
They created devices such as the hourglass, water clock, and the sundial. At the time, sundials were very popular than other methods because they understood how the sun and shadows can tell time. They also created the first portable timepiece similar to a miniature sundial. The device divided the sunlit day into 10 parts plus two “twilight hours” in the morning and 2 hours in the evening. This map it was the beginning of the 24 hour clock.
Shortly after, in the 14th century, we begin to see the use of large mechanical clocks to appear in towers of large Italian cities. Three of the oldest surviving examples of clockwork would be the famous clock in the Salisbury cathedral, a clock on the street in Rouen, and the bishop of Wells installed a clock in his cathedral as well. The clocks were so detailed and precise that people were impressed by these clocks and wanted miniature versions of those clocks in their own homes.
These clocks were powered by hanging weight and regulated by escapements with a foliot. Society was continuously looking for more ways to make the clocks easy to make and lightweight. By the middle of the 15th century, there was a switch from hanging weight to a spring-driven mechanism in the clock.
At that time, clockmakers learned how to transmit power from the coiled spring to give power to the clock. They’re next big advancement was to make the clock lightweight, they removed the excess weight from the clock to make it easier to move the clock from room to room. The only surviving spring-driven clock is located in the science museum in London. There is evidence that the clock was created in about 1450. It even made it possible to make pocket watches which was created by Thomas Tompion.
With ocean travel on the rise, sailors needed to be able to calculate their position in any world sea around the globe. Navigation was a decisive factor in gaining dominance in the sea against competitors. The main challenge was to accurately measure longitude in order to identify other ships.
In 1735, John Harrison built the first marine chronometer. He was an English horologist reigning from Yorkshire, England. A chronometer was an instrument for measuring time, especially one designed to keep accurate time in spite of motion or variations in temperature, humidity, and air pressure. Chronometers were first developed for marine navigation and used in conjunction with astronomical observations to determine longitude.
Due to several unfortunate disasters at sea caused by poor navigation, the British government set a prize of 20,000 pounds to the first man who could develop an accurate chronometer. Over a quarter century later, Harrison creates three more improved models which his son uses one of them to test on his voyage. His son goes on a journey to Jamaica and at the end of his journey, he states that the chronometer was five seconds slow.
Many others have developed chronometers like Harrison's but only Pierre Le Roy, a French clockmaker, was successful in accuracy. He develops his own chronometer that was equipped with an automated temperature-compensated balance using mercury in 1766. He tested his work and his machine was accurate to within eight seconds after a 46 day voyage.
Now that ocean travel wasn't as efficient anymore in the 19th century, transporting cargo and precious goods through railroad companies became very popular and took less time than ocean travel. The only problem was that everyone wasn't on the same time zone which caused many problems for businesses and travelers.
“Every city in the United States used a different time standard, so there were more than 300 local sun times to choose from” (Web). Since this was a major problem, American and Canadian railroads began using four continental time zones which ended the confusion of dealing with thousands of local times in 1883. The following year, delegates from 27 nations met in Washington DC to agree on a world time zone system that we still used today.
To understand the world time zone you need to understand that as earth rotates on its axis, it moves about 15° every 60 minutes. After 24 hours, it is completed a full circle rotation of 360°. The scientists use this information to divide the planet into 24 sessions or times on each time zone is 15° of longitude wide.
As the years went on, technology started to advance and clocks went electric and digital. In 1957, The Hamilton Watch Company of Lancaster, Pennsylvania produced the world’s first electric watch. They kept the idea of a traditional balance-wheel mechanism which had been used for many timepieces before and also incorporated a battery.
However, instead of using of using the spring method, a battery was used to power the watch and the need to wind the clock was eliminated. People loved that you didn’t have to wind the clock anymore but the clock would stop working after the battery died which caused a major problem for the company.
Also in 1972, Hamilton created the first digital watch with digital display. On the watch, there was a button on the side that you could press that would display the time as a red numeric display. The LED was created by passing an electric charge through inorganic materials. There were seven electronic switches that went into making each numeral in the display. The red light was generated by aluminium gallium arsenide.
Later on, Pulsar changed the color of the LED to green. The digital watch was a huge advancement and paved the way for companies to create the same kind of watch. The advancement of timekeeping came a long way. Many scientists and clockmakers have played a key role in these advancements. Remember that all of this started from just a stick on the ground and the sun shining in the air. Just imagine what scientists will think of next.

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