Why Do We Have Different Time Zones?

Alex Williams
7 Min Read

Whenever we travel from one country to another, on the same or the other side of the hemisphere, we feel that time is not in accordance with the flight. Since time & space are difficult to comprehend, it can be said that moving in different time zones is a form of time travel. But, why do we have different time zones? Explaining this is the main aim of this article.

1. What is The Concept of Time?

Time is considered, by many physicists, scientists, and theorists, to be the most complex topic of relativity, quantum physics, and mathematics. It branches into concepts like the multiverse, time travel, multi-dimensional worlds, that fill up a series of books quite easily.

The most surface-level answer that helps us in understanding why do we have different time zones is to understand whether time is a constant or variable. This means determining if the value of time doesn’t change or varies depending upon the equation. The answer is that time is a variable. We can simply theorize this as time isn’t stationary. It keeps changing every attosecond.

2. Why is Time Constant?

Many theorists have discarded the theory of time being a variable and insisted that time is a constant. This is because time keeps moving as one single flow and you can’t stop, or reverse it. You can stop a speeding vehicle or cut down a tall object by applying force, but you can’t do anything with time. If an hour has passed in one country, another country in the other hemisphere will also feel the passage of an hour. (See What is Grandfather Clock History?)

3. Is Time both, Constant & Variable?

In some sense of the terminology, Yes. On the ground level, time is known to be universally relative. Every renowned physicist, scientist, and theorist like Sir Albert Einstein, Max Plank, Ronald Mallett, Erwin Schrodinger, Neil Tyson, Michio Kaku have agreed that time is relative. This comes with the most basic explanation of the related phenomena that if a person on January 1 in India is having his morning breakfast, then at the same time a person on December 31 in the United States is going to sleep. This answers why do we have different time zones.

4. What Influences Time?

Two things that influence time zones are Gravity & Rotation of Earth. Gravity is inversely proportional to time. The more the distance from the source of gravity, the faster the time will pass for you.  Our place of inhabitancy also plays a big part in the existence of time zones. According to Sir Albert Einstein, the higher your place of stay, the faster you get old. This theory of time dilation has been proven to be true as experimented by various scientists. This is the reason that time works differently in space as there is no gravity, no vacuum.

5. What is the Influence of Earth and Gravity?

How does the effect of gravity and time dilation help us with our question of why do we have different time zones? Well, gravity is responsible for keeping the Earth on its axis and making sure that it doesn’t fall into outer space or get sucked in by the sun. Also, it is theorized that gravity is responsible for Earth’s rotation as well, which plays a part in time zones.

As the Earth rotates, the part that faces the sun gets the sunlight and the other gets night and the moon is visible to them. This creates a difference in relative time for the people that live on the sunlight side and moon side. The rotation takes about 24 hours, and the cycle continues.

6. What is Time Zone?

A time zone is itself not considered a universal clock but a referential time for the world. It is called Universal Standard Time or Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). It is a clock that is situated in Greenwich, London, and all the clocks in the world are referenced through this clock. They add or subtract the number of hours from this world clock for each longitude corresponding to a half-hour difference.

For instance, Jamaica and Peru are five hours behind this clock, and India and Sri Lanka are five hours and thirty minutes ahead of this clock.  (See What is the time zone for Texas?)

7. What is the Purpose of having Time Zones?

Now we come to the question of what is the purpose of having time zones. Simply put, we need time zones for commercial, legal, and social purposes. We need it to integrate the time on different locations of earth and eliminate confusion that might stem from it.

For example, if you are living in India and there is a live concert that you need to attend in Los Angeles at midnight, then you can’t use your Indian clock to estimate the time of arrival. As the time estimated by you will not match the time you will arrive at your destination. It is simply because the earth wouldn’t stop rotating and time will keep moving. This answers why do we have different time zones.

Thus, time zones are necessary to help an individual or an organization in multi-national scenarios like communication, trade and transactions, legal amenities, and transport. After learning why do we have different time zones, read if EST And EDT The Same Thing? If Not, What Is The Difference?

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