What does time precision matter to you?

Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is the gold standard of time. It is the measure for time used around the world. GMT defines both time and place for the entire world. All time is measured relative to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and all places have latitude (their distance North or South of the Equator) and a longitude (their distance East or West of the Greenwich Meridian).

As the United Kingdom grew into an advanced maritime nation, British mariners kept their timepieces on GMT in order to calculate their longitude “from the Greenwich meridian”, which was by convention considered to have longitude zero degrees. This did not affect shipboard time itself, which was still solar time. Eventually, GMT became used world-wide as a reference for time as well independent of location. Today we still talk about GMT time but probably not as often as we do GPS time. Global Positioning Systems are gradually replacing GMT as the standard by which we set our watch and cell phones world wide.

Think of the precision that has occurred in time setting over the last twenty year or so. Watches were once accurate only within minutes. Today, we set our watches and clocks to within seconds of the world standards for time. When you look at your cell phone, it is probably being automatically calibrated to a GPS time standard. You know longer have to worry if you watch is running fast or slow or needs winding. If I say I am going to call you at 5 PM, I can call you within seconds of this time and there is an excellent chance your clock or watch will say 5PM when I call you. This would have been unheard of ten year or so ago. You might be saying well “so what.” However, this precision allows us to coordinate millions of events world wide without losing minutes and seconds of wasted time. This translates to billions of dollars worth of savings in time and energy. In a global system, where time is increasingly more valuable than money, this savings of time is a wonderful benefit to modern life. Well, a benefit to some. For others, it is really a case of “who cares.”

Do you care? How concerned are you about time? Do you see time as a valuable resource or is it something that just ticks by without your giving it a care? Do you have the right balance for time in your life? Are you too obsessed with GMT and GPS time or not obsessed enough?

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