Tuesday, 30 October 2012

First Meeting of the ‘Committee for Putting Time Back in Joint’

Scene: a meeting room in the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.  Two politicians, a civil servant and a scientist are gathered.

Politician #1: Welcome, gentlemen.  And madam, of course.

Politician #2: Don’t patronise me, you little sewer rat.

Scientist: Can we just establish what we’re here for, first?  As I understand it –

Civil Servant: If I may summarise the situation?  (Blank stares all round.  He presses on.)  An overwhelming majority – thirteen to none – seems to be in favour of changing the current regime whereby, twice a year, everybody in the country is obliged to alter all their timepieces by one hour, forward in the spring and backward in the autumn –

P #1: Oh for mercy’s sake –

C S: - and therefore that something needs to be done.

S: The answer’s obvious.  Move the Greenwich meridian west by seventy miles.

P #2: And how exactly does that help my constituents in the Orkneys?  Not to mention hard-working mothers on the school run who risk having their babies ploughed down by drunken drivers because it’s just too bloody dark?  Eh?

P #1: Very good point, my dear.  Of course, most people don’t live in the Orkneys, do they?  They live in Buckinghamshire, and frankly those I talk to don’t seem to think there’s a problem.  Most of them can’t go out in daylight anyway.

S: Of course, we could solve the north-south divide by rotating the Earth on a horizontal axis so that everyone gets their fair share of daylight …  (Scratches head.)  Hmm.  This would have to be done gradually, of course …  Perhaps on a weekly basis –

P #1:  I like that.  Could be a vote-winner.  (Frowns.)  Or a referendum-loser …  (Cheers up.) Good for employment though.  Plenty of intern jobs reprogramming satnavs …

S:  Not to mention online maps -

C S:  On a point of order, can I point out that we haven’t yet agreed on a name for this committee?  Or terms of reference?

P #2:  Can we discuss that over a pint?

P #1:  First sensible thing you’ve said, my love.  I believe they do a very acceptable Côte-Rôtie by the bottle down at the Snout and Sundial.

S:  (Looks at watch.)  Gosh, is that the time?

C S:  So, next meeting?  Same place and time, say April the first next year?

S:  We’d better synchronise our watches.  (Fiddles with watch.)  Right, mine’s synchronised.


Exeunt, to the sound of Big Ben tolling noon.


  1. These fly-on-the-wall exposés are so interesting, in a depressing sort of way.

  2. Puts the Mean into Greenwich time

  3. For two events separated by a time-like interval, enough time passes between them for there to be a cause–effect relationship between the two events. For a particle traveling through space at less than the speed of light, any two events which occur to or by the particle must be separated by a time-like interval. Event pairs with time-like separation define a negative squared spacetime interval and may be said to occur in each other's future or past. There exists a reference frame such that the two events are observed to occur in the same spatial location, but there is no reference frame in which the two events can occur at the same time.

    So, if you're getting a Lorentz transformation, use a simples Minkowski diagram.
    That's the solution, is it not?

  4. I have no idea what any of us is on about, so have no choice but to agree. Everybody should agree with everybody else, and then we'll have world peace. Don't you agree?

  5. Actually, Richard, on second reading I agree with most of what you say, but got slightly lost around 'negative squared spacetime interval.' Perhaps you could expand, or expound, either of those will do?

    Zig - I agree with your agreement. So that's that sorted then.
    Actually, just agreeing all the time's a bit boring, isn't it? Can't we argue about the year of the Cote-Rotie?