Time Lord : Sir Sandford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time

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9780375401763: Time Lord : Sir Sandford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time

The remarkable story of the man who created and then convinced all the nations of the world to adopt a unified standard for telling time.

Standard Time was one of the crowning achievements of Victorian progressiveness and one of the few Victorian innovations to have survived practically unchanged into our era. Few technological inventions have proven to be both as invisible and as important. Today we take it for granted that the world is divided into twenty-four time zones, but before Standard Time was established in 1884, time was an arbitrary measure decided by individual localities. With the advent of continent-spanning railroads and transatlantic steamers, the myriad local times became a mind-boggling obstacle and the rational ordering of time became an urgent priority.

After laboring for years to create a scientific consensus, Sandford Fleming gathered scientific and political representatives from the world's twenty-five independent nations in Washington, D.C., for the Prime Meridian Conference. There, after considerable rancor, delegates agreed to the Greenwich Prime Meridian, the International Date Line, and a single system by which the entire world would measure its longitudes and tell the same time.

In Time Lord, Clark Blaise introduces us to an almost-forgotten figure, who saw the world as a whole and overcame traditional and national objections to the rational accounting of time.

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Review:

In the 1880s, a businessman traveling by train from New York to Boston needed, on arrival, to adjust his clock, moving it ahead by 12 minutes. The strange increment, writes Clark Blaise, was a matter of local interpretation, some enterprising Bostonian having determined that the rising sun touched the shore of Massachusetts a dozen minutes before warming Manhattan.

Such local interpretations of time made the job of establishing railroad schedules a matter of guesswork and hope, as the Canadian entrepreneur Sandford Fleming discovered when he missed a train in the west of Ireland in 1876. Frustrated, Fleming realized that a new system of universal time would need to be created if railroad travel were ever to realize its full potential. As Blaise writes, "the adoption of standard time for the world was as necessary for commercial advancement as the invention of the elevator was for modern urban development," and nations such as England that had a system of standard time in place owed much of their economic superiority to the predictability and reliability such a system put in place.

Fleming discovered that getting the world onto the same schedule required years of negotiating and browbeating, a nightmare that Blaise ably recounts. Fleming's efforts eventually paid off, and as Blaise writes, "Of all the inventions of the Industrial Age, standard time has endured, virtually unchanged, the longest." His entertaining account of how that came to be will be of appeal to readers who enjoyed Dava Sobel's Longitude, Henry Petroski's The Pencil, and other popular works in the history of technology. --Gregory McNamee

From the Inside Flap:

It is difficult today to imagine life before standard time was established in 1884. In the middle of the nineteenth century, for example, there were 144 official time zones in North America alone. The confusion that ensued, especially among the burgeoning railroad companies, was an hourly comedy of errors that ultimately threatened to impede progress. The creation of standard time, with its two dozen global time zones, is one of the great inventions of the Victorian Era, yet it has been largely taken for granted.
In Time Lord, Clark Blaise re-creates the life of Sanford Fleming, who struggled to convince the world to accept standard time. It's a fascinating story of science, politics, nationalism, and the determined vision of one man who changed the world. Set in a time marked by substantial technological and cultural transformation, Time Lord is also an erudite exploration of art, literature, consciousness, and our changing relationship to time

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Blaise, Clark
Editore: Pantheon
ISBN 10: 0375401768 ISBN 13: 9780375401763
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Descrizione libro Pantheon. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. 0375401768 Clean, unmarked copy. Hardcover, with dust jacket- In excellent shape! I can send expedited rate if you chose; otherwise it will promptly be sent via media rate. Have any questions? Email me; I'm happy to help! Select Expedited Shipping (just $2 more) to get your book as fast as possible!. Codice libro della libreria SKU1027782

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ISBN 10: 0375401768 ISBN 13: 9780375401763
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Descrizione libro Pantheon, 2001. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. Codice libro della libreria DADAX0375401768

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Descrizione libro Pantheon, 2001. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. book. Codice libro della libreria M0375401768

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