News and Views


    THE question of the introduction of twenty-four hour reckoning for railway time-tables has recently been discussed in Parliament. The subject is a well-worn one. It is nearly half a century since the late Sir William Christie made efforts in this direction. He suggested that, if it were done, astronomers might meet the public by reckoning astronomical time from midnight, a change that was actually made in 1925. A few years ago a committee appointed by the Council of the Royal Astronomical Society interviewed the railway authorities, endeavouring to persuade them to adopt the 24-hour system in time-tables, pointing out that the method was already in use in many countries. The companies, however, refused to make the change unless clear evidence was submitted to them that the public desired it. It is, however, fairly obvious that the public is inarticulate in matters of this kind. There was little enthusiasm for the summer-time scheme until it came about as a wartime economy but once it was tried, it was welcomed with enthusiasm by all except a small minority. If the 24-hour scheme were adopted there would be no need to have new clock dials the addition of 12 hours is an easy mental operation: moreover, the use of the new time for time-tables and public announcements would entail no obligation to use it in private life.

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    News and Views. Nature 127, 753–758 (1931).

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