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Daylight Saving Time

November 6, 2011 by staff 

Daylight Saving Time, Why do we fall back every year, only to spring ahead four months later? Ben Franklin was only kidding when he suggested 227 years ago that towns should employ the use of church bells or cannon blasts, if necessary, to wake citizens at sunrise so they could take full advantage of sunlight – a thrifty alternative to pricy candle power.

More than two centuries later, the joke’s still on us.

Daylight-saving time is no longer just an amusing idea; it’s taken hold with a vengeance.

Twice a year we’re forced to adjust our sleep habits, synchronizing our biological and digital clocks in order to squeeze more sunlight into our waking hours.

Meanwhile, sleep researchers insist we should be cutting back on our waking hours if we really want to live long and prosper.

So here we are, caught somewhere between popping sleep aids and chugging Red Bull, not sure how to feel about our collective changing of the clocks.

David Prerau, recognized as one of the country’s leading experts on our human quest for saving time, has devoted much of his life to chronicling the history and science of DST.

He served as a consultant to the U.S. Congress back in 2005 when they enacted a law extending daylight saving time as an energy saving measure, and he also has been a consultant on DST to the United Kingdom Parliament. He holds a Ph.D. from M.I.T.

Although Franklin certainly gets a historical nod for his amusing social commentary about our waste of perfectly good sunlight, Prerau points to British early riser and golf fanatic William Willett as the godfather of daylight-saving time.

“He used to go for early-morning horseback rides and wondered why nobody else was up enjoying this beautiful time of day,” Prerau said.

Willett detailed his time-wise idea in a pamphlet, “The Waste of Daylight,” and spent years lobbying Parliament in vain to adopt daylight-saving time – he died in 1915 before that would happen, Prerau said.

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