Let's Take A Closer Look

Explaining complicated subject matter simply since 1986

In 1956, the film Around the World in 80 Days was based on the book of the same name by Jules Verne. David Niven had the Fogg role and the rescued woman was Shirley MacLaine. Throughout the movie, many notable actors from the period made cameo appearances, including Frank Sinatra, Andy Devine, Peter Lorre, Red Skelton, and Marlene Dietrich. Jules Verne also wrote Journey to the Center of the Earth and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, both science fiction travel adventure novels (and 80 more books). Sixteen years after the publication of Around the World in 80 Days, reporter Nellie Bly wrote a book about how she traveled around the world in 72 days. Around the World in 72 Days was a best-seller.

The wager 

In 1872, a small group of wealthy friends were sitting around their stuffy old gentlemen’s club talking about their investments when Phileas Fogg read in the London Daily Telegraph that the last segment of the new railway in India had finally been completed, making it theoretically possible to go travel around the world in 80 days. After some discussion, Fogg bets half of his fortune that he can do it. His friends take the bet, saying he must return to the Reform Club by 8:45 p.m.on the 21st of December. 

The journey 

Fogg and his manservant Passepartout encounter all kinds of perilous situations (kidnapping, jail, opium dens, a circus, a typhoon, a beating by Hindu priest, and an attack by a band of Sioux warriors. 

The route Fogg chose took him across the channel to Paris, then on through the Suez Canal to Bombay, Calcutta, Hong Kong, Yokohama, San Francisco, New York, and back to London.

They arrived at Bombay after two weeks on a steamship

They boarded the train for Calcutta and settled in for a journey of more than 1,000 miles. The train came to a stop 50 miles short of Calcutta because it turned out the Daily Telegraph was wrong – the track was not finished. The resourceful Fogg bought an elephant and hired a driver to take them 50 miles across rough terrain to Calcutta. Along the way, Fogg and Passepartout rescued a beautiful young woman about to be sacrificed on her husband’s funeral pyre and she joined them on their journey. 

Ten days to go

Arriving in San Francisco after 5,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean, they boarded a train for the 3,000-mile trip to New York, where Fogg hired a ship to cross the Atlantic. Encountering hurricane winds, the wooden ship ran out of coal. The ever-resourceful and now desperate Fogg bought the entire ship from the captain and instructed the crew to strip all the available wood and burn it as fuel.

The last day

When he finally arrives in London, Fogg is a day late, and has lost the bet. The following day, he was home moping about his loss when he realizes that by crossing the International Date Line during his circumnavigation of the globe, he has actually gained a day. He rushes to the club, wins the prize, and marries the girl. Fogg had gained a day was because he traveled east. Had he gone west, he would have lost a day.

The International Date Line (180° longitude)

It’s an imaginary line drawn from the North Pole and extends across the Pacific Ocean to the South Pole. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it is exactly halfway around the world from the prime meridian (0°) and defines the boundary between calendar dates. 

Latitude and longitude

The latitudes represent the distance north or south of the equator, and longitude indicate the distance east or west of the prime meridian, the place where longitude is 0°. The prime meridian  circles the earth, dividing it into the Eastern and Western Hemispheres.

This imaginary line could have been anywhere, but was located at The Royal Observatory, Greenwich, England because it is situated on a straight line drawn between the North and South poles. The prime meridian is where the world’s day begins.

The Greeks

This system of measuring a place on earth by intersecting coordinates was developed around 200 BC by Greek mathematicians Eratosthenes and Hipparchus. Ptolemy (second century geographer, astronomer, and mathematician) was the first to include longitudinal and latitudinal lines on a world map. These measurements allowed explorers to more accurately navigate the seas and map the lands they “discovered.”

The intersection of horizontal and vertical lines forms a grid

This global grid uses geographic coordinates to describe the location of any place on earth. The horizontal lines (latitude) indicate the north-south position of any point. The vertical lines (longitude) define its east-west location. Today, few people know anything about latitude and longitude because they rely on their GPS/SatNav to guide them to where they want to go.

Coordinates 

These are the places where longitude and latitude intersect. Both of these imaginary lines are broad measured first in degrees, then minutes and seconds. With today’s more precise measuring tools, map coordinates look like this: latitude 26.31841000, longitude -80.0977000 (Deerfield Beach, Florida). Click here to enter the name of your city and your GPS coordinates will be calculated for you.

Accurately locating any position needs to factor in time

Up until 1883, time was a local matter. Cities and towns kept their own time. This was a huge problem for the railroads, because each used its own system for keeping time and each railway station set its own clock. This hodgepodge of schedules resulted in frequent head-on crashes that destroyed trains and killed 97 people between 1831 and 1853 in the U.S. alone.

At one point, there were 300 different local times in the U.S.

The railroads cut the number down to 100, which was finally reduced to four time zones in the U.S. This allowed the railroads to use uniform schedules for departures and arrivals, reducing the number of crashes.

Seasonal clock adjustments

Wikipedia says Daylight Saving Time (DST) is the practice of advancing clocks to make better use of the longer daylight hours available to us in the summer. DST is rarely observed in countries near the equator because sunrise and sunset times don’t vary enough to make it practical.

History.com says the idea that DST was invented in 1895 to give farmers an extra hour of sunlight to work their patch is a common misconception. The real reason for daylight saving is a desire to match daylight hours with the times most people are awake. 

The effects of Daylight Saving Time

There are two sides to this story. One says DST saves energy, another says DST consumes more energy. One says DST is safer and another shows different data that says it does not. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says DST should be eliminated because the springtime shift brings about increased mood disorders, heart attacks, strokes, and car crashes.

In 1974, the United States switched to year-round DST 

In addition to lowering Interstate Hghway President Nixon thought year-round DST would help the national gas crisis. More than three in four Americans thought it was a great idea. After living with it for only two months, half changed their minds. Later that same year, president Gerald Ford cancelled the mandate. DST is controversial again with many states considering adopting either permanent DST or permanent standard time. Both want to stop changing their clocks twice a year. 

Why 2:00 am on Monday?

The twice-a-year time changes are scheduled for 2:00 a.m. on Sunday to disrupt the smallest number of people.

Why is it called daylight saving when the amount of daylight doesn’t change?

It should be called daylight shifting. DST pushes nightfall back an hour because there are more hours of daylight in the summer. Daylight saving time does not save daylight: it adjusts the clock to fit the season.

Bonus

Two well-known science fiction adventure novels by Jules Verne are Journey to the Center of the Earth, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. In his novel From the Earth to the Moon, a multi-stage rocket was shot from a cannon in Tampa, Florida, where a street is named after him. A park was, too, until the wealthy socialite who owned it sold it to someone who changed the name to Ballast Point Park in 1903.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.
Loading