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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Falling Back

Last night was the night we turned our clocks back one hour in Canada and the USA. It's easy to remember whether we lose an hour or gain an hour because even school children learn the phrase "Spring forward, Fall back." ("Fall" is the local jargon for "Autumn.")

For most people, this concept of adjusting your clocks twice a year is terribly confusing. Do you understand it?

Here's a short quiz to test your knowledge of time.

What do Australians do at this time of the year?
  1. turn their clocks back one hour
  2. turn their clocks forward one hour
  3. don't adjust their clocks
  4. who cares what happens in Vienna?

What is the astronomical reason for turning our clocks back one hour?
  1. there is no astronomical reason for adjusting our clocks
  2. the rotation of the Earth slows down when it nears apogee
  3. there aren't exactly 24 hours in a day
  4. clocks run slower when the Earth is farther from the sun

What happened last night in Saskatchewan?
  1. people turned their clocks back one hour
  2. people turned their clocks forward one hour
  3. nobody adjusted their clocks
  4. who cares what happens in Saskatchewan? (and where is it?)

If you normally catch the 7:33 commuter train, what will you do tomorrow?
  1. take the 6:33 train
  2. take the 8:33 train
  3. get on the 7:33 train as usual
  4. call in sick

What happens to the international date line at this time of year?
  1. it moves 15° east
  2. it moves 15° west
  3. it stays right where it is but "midnight" becomes 1 AM during the winter months
  4. nothing happens to the international date line

Did you ....
  1. get one hour less sleep last night?
  2. get one hour more sleep last night?
  3. slept exactly the same amount as the night before
  4. stayed up all night celebrating?

Mr. Big has an appointment to meet his accountant tomorrow at 12 noon. His secretary sent him an email message on Friday telling him that the appointment would have to be delayed by two hours. Mr. Big forgot to adjust his watch, so on Monday morning it was out of sync with the rest of the world. Assuming he got the email message, what time will he show up for the appointment according the adjusted clock in the accountant's office?
  1. 11 AM
  2. 12 noon
  3. 1 PM
  4. 2 PM
  5. 3 PM

Which, if any, of the following count as valid and rational objections to daylight saving time, assuming it is properly implemented?
  1. farmers will have to feed their animals in the dark
  2. children will have to go to school before the sun rises
  3. it wastes electricity
  4. you lose an hour's sleep in the summer
  5. it reduces crime
  6. it disrupts international flight schedules
  7. it's unnatural to adjust time
  8. it causes health problems by messing with your circadian rhythm


  1. I slept exactly the same amount as usual - since my alarm clock (a 6-month-old baby) refuses to adjust easily to daylight savings time.

  2. I always remember it as "Spring back, Fall forward" (especially if I've been down the pub all evening prior to the switch).

  3. ha, well, not to nitpick - but not all autralian states have daylight saving, so there isn't a single correct answere there :)

  4. Australia, Vienna? Australia is not Austria...

  5. I should have read further before reacting..."computer train": it's all absurd humor?

  6. So when I get an attack of "hour change" disorientation in spring and autumn I can now fall back on your post.