Like Clock Work

Benjamin Franklin's essay in 1784 introducing the concept of daylight savings time.

Benjamin Franklin’s essay in 1784 introducing the concept of daylight savings time.

Many historians notion that the idea of daylight savings time (DST) came to Benjamin Franklin in 1784, the proposal of creating such a shift for man to George Vernon Hudson in 1895, and finally the invention of daylight savings is mainly credited to William Willett in 1905.

Now you’re probably thinking, why the sudden interest in daylight savings time? Well not DST exactly but the sheer notion of such a seemingly simple idea that as history teaches us was filled with complexities and challenges.

Let’s start with the three men I stated above.

Benjamin Franklin published an essay titled “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light” which he first conceived during his stay in Paris in 1784. The essay proposed to economize the use of candles by rising earlier to maximize the natural morning sunlight.

George Veron Hudson, an entomologist was a shift worker in New Zealand. Whose passion during his leisure time was to collect insects. This passion was what led him to value after hour daylight. The Wellington Philosophical Society received a paper from George proposing a two hour daylight saving shift which at the time conceived considerable interest.

William Willett, from Britain who was an avid morning golfer proposed the idea in 1905 of moving the clocks forward in the summer to take advantage of the mornings and lighter evenings. His idea captured the modern day notion of moving time forward and then switching back in the later part of the year.

In all three cases, three men who had no seeming connection were in fact connected by a singular idea of maximizing daylight – no matter how diverse the motive that led them there was.

DST to this day is met with opposition and acceptance. It’s founding visionaries and the defining tipping points in history such as the First World War where Germany and its allies first used DST as a way to conserve coal during the wartime effort.  Motives played an integral role in the shaping and movement of such ideas, theories and concepts.

I’d love to hear about simply ideas that you’re curious about or have researched that exist all around us.

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