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This article was created for our translators to help them deliver their (and subsequently our) work on time. But below you will find an interesting explanation of how and why time zones were invented, and how we developed and created our entire concept of time



Time zone abbreviation Meaning and/or location(s) Time difference from GMT What 9am to 5pm on GMT time translates into your time zone
GMT Greenwich Mean: London, England +0:00 09:00 – 17:00
WAT West Africa: Azores, Cape Verde Islands -1:00 08:00 – 16:00
AT Azores -2:00 07:00 – 15:00
  Brasilia, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Georgetown, Guyana -3:00 06:00 – 14:00
AST Atlantic Standard: Caracas; La Paz -4:00 05:00 – 13:00
EST Eastern Standard: Bogota; Lima, Peru; New York, NY, USA -5:00 04:00 – 12:00
CST Central Standard: Mexico City, Mexico; Saskatchewan, Canada -6:00 03:00 – 11:00
MST Mountain Standard -7:00 02:00 – 10:00
PST Pacific Standard: Los Angeles, CA, USA -8:00 01:00 – 09:00
YST Yukon Standard -9:00 24:00 – 08:00
AHST, CAT, HST, EAST Alaska-Hawaii Standard; Central Alaska; Hawaii Standard; 09:East Australian Standard -10:00 23:00 – 07:00
NT Nome -11:00 22:00 – 06:00
IDLW International Date Line West -12:00 21:00 – 05:00
CET Central European: Paris, France +1:00 10:00 – 18:00
EET Eastern European, Russia Zone 1: Athens, Greece; Helsinki, Finland; Istanbul, Turkey; Jerusalem, Israel; Harare, Zimbabwe +2:00 11:00 – 19:00
BT Baghdad, Russia Zone 2: Kuwait; Nairobi, Kenya; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Moscow, Russia; Tehran, Iran +3:00 12:00 – 20:00
ZP4 Russia Zone 3: Abu Dhabi, UAE; Muscat; Tblisi; Volgograd; Kabul +4:00 13:00 – 21:00
ZP5 Chesapeake Bay +5:00 14:00 – 22:00
ZP6 Chesapeake Bay +6:00 15:00 – 23:00
WAST West Australian Standard +7:00 16:00 – 24:00
CCT China Coast, Russia Zone 7, Hong Kong, Peking +8:00 17:00 – 01:00
JST Japan Standard, Russia Zone 8 +9:00 18:00 – 02:00
GST Guam Standard, Russia Zone 9 +10:00 19:00 – 03:00
    +11:00 20:00 – 04:00
IDLE International Date Line East: Wellington, New Zealand +12:00 21:00 – 05:00
NZST New Zealand Standard: Fiji +12:00 21:00 – 05:00
NZT New Zealand: Marshall Islands +12:00 21:00 – 05:00

Therefore, if something is due on 16:00 (4:00pm) GMT time, and you are located in Volgograd Russia on ZP4 time, you would have to deliver your work by 20:00 (8:00pm) your time (add four hours to the due date, according to the third column in the table above).

For your convenience, a time zone here:

Time Zone map

(click to enlarge)

What are Time Zones?

The Big Bang - the beginning of timeWell, we could ask what is time? To explain this, let us go to the beginning of what we can define as time. Let us presume that, before the big bang, there was only energy, and no time. We can say that God was this energy. And "then" He decided to make things, so He converted this energy into mass and hence was created the big bang, which was an explosion of the energy force turning into matter. Exploding outwards in all directions, and creating the universe, or many universes, and therefore dimensions, where time is considered the fourth dimension.

Everything is relative. A plant grows. We compare the states "after" and "before", and in our minds we think time. An object moves from point A to point B, or relative to what we call points A and B, the universe shifts around, we call it before and after, and label the "time" it took for that object to move between these two points.

For us on earth, our reference point for time is the sun, the most obvious object in our sphere of perception, with its movement "around us". But in fact it is not moving around us, but our earth is spinning. When the created particles exploded outward following the big bang, because they were little particles of mass, they were attracted to each other, because mass objects are attracted to each other by gravity. We can stand on the earth because we are a mass object attracted to the great (relative to us) mass object of the earth. A Chinese person is upside down compared to a US person, because they are on the other side of the planet attracted and drawn by gravity to its centre.

Evolution of the universe - beginnings of timeIn the same manner, all the little mass particles jetting outwards from the centre of the big bang explosion are attracted to one another by gravity. Some particles are closer to one another, and they start to form clusters and groups. The clusters and groups which are attracted towards each other do so like water going down a drain. The fastest and naturally most efficient way for the water to go down a drain is to start spinning, which also creates a hole in the centre through which air can escape upwards, as the space the air previously consumed is now being replaced by the descending water. Water going down a drain in the southern hemisphere of our planet spins in the opposite direction as water going down the drain in the northern hemisphere.

In the same way when these mass particles start to attract to one another during our forming universe, they naturally form a spinning disk, much like with the water going down the drain. This big disk could eventually form a galaxy, universe, or solar system, with the most clusters and mass in the centre of the disk, all of it spinning around.

On a solar system level (solar means a sun), the most mass in the centre can form a sun, like ours. There is so much mass that the sheer weight of all these mass particles, attracted to one another under gravity, becomes so great that the pressure eventually ignites and starts a chemical reaction. Under the sheer weight of it all, and pressure, the chemical reaction converts hydrogen and helium back into energy, which we see as light and feel as heat.

The mass of our earth is also a lot, and the weight and pressure of this mass is great enough that, if we were to bore a hole 3 km towards the centre of the earth, the pressure and heat would be strong enough to melt all our equipment (which are basically made from the iron ore found in our earth's, cooled crust). We are actually sitting on a very thin crust, the outer layer of the earth, which has cooled down to the point that we can stand on it. Past 3 km from the surface it is still all molten lava, which occasionally escapes to the surface through volcanoes or large earthquakes. But our earth is not large enough to ignite the reaction which creates energy (which is conversion of mass back into energy) to turn it into a star. But Jupiter has just enough mass to make it a small star. There are other stars in the universe which are such a large collection of mass and produce so much gravity that they do not even let light escape, sucking everything into it.

For the same reason that the particles of mass travelling outwards from the initial big bang have drawn together in spinning disks, the hazy mass within the forming and spinning solar systems have also conglomerated into spinning matter, eventually forming spinning planets, now revolving around the sun at the same speed as the forming solar disk was previously spinning. There are two interesting theories regarding the relative distance of the planets from the sun. One was postulated by Galileo who drew geometric shapes with an increasing number of sides, and found that they perfectly fit into one another. Another theory calculates that the relative distances of the planets from the sun correlate exactly with the relative distance between the frequencies of musical notes, whereby F# would be the asteroid belt, and hence deemed an unstable orbit and where a planet could not form properly. This is just one example of the amazing harmony of nature, which one can also consider as proof of the divine existence of God.

Therefore, we have our sun in the centre of our own solar system, and our planet spins in an orbit around it, our planet itself spinning around, with the moon spinning in an orbit around us.

(Prague's Orloj Clock - an interesting history)

A famous time clock, in Prague, Czech RepublicAs our planet spins, it appears to us that the sun revolves around us. The Sumerians (the race of people living in Mesopotamia in what is now modern day Iraq and from where Abraham first came and was called by God) were the first great civilisation on earth and which defined for us time, using another very common object for us: our hands and fingers. If we were a Sumerian, how might we divide up a day, which is basically the time it takes for our earth to spin around once, or from our perspective, for our sun to revolve around us until it came back to the same place it started at? Well, we might look at our hands and fingers and use them to divide up things. We would divide up the entire day into two: the dark half and the light half. We have four fingers and a thumb. Looking at the four fingers, each has three segments, making up 12 segments total. Three segments times four fingers makes 12, so let us divide up each half day into 12 hours. Now if we take this number 12 generated by the four fingers of our left hand, and multiply it by the fingers and thumb of our right hand, we get 12 hours times 5, which makes 60. So lets divide each hour into 60 individual minutes, and divide up each minute into 60 individual seconds. And this is precisely how we humans have defined for ourselves time. A year, which works out to 365 days (with some leap years, because our means of creating time is not exact), is the number of times the earth spins around its own axis (creating what we call a day) while the earth revolves in its orbit around the sun to come back to the same place it started at.

This is how the Sumerians defined time. But because the world is a round globe, the beginning of night and day is different depending on where you are located in the world. What is high noon for someone in the US would be pitch black midnight for someone in China, on the other side of the world. Therefore, over time, we humans started to draw imaginary lines on the planet, cutting up the planet into 24 parts, one for each hour of the day.

In the days of old, people used a sundial to tell the time, which is basically a solar clock. A little stick at a certain angle which would cast a shadow as the sun, from our perspective, would revolve around our planet. But as humans advanced, and with the invention of railroads (the first time zone GMT was in fact created by British Railways), and transportation becoming faster and faster, it got to a point where it was necessary to set some relative times between each place. So the earth was carved into one hour slices, usually along political borders, or what we humans thought would be the best way. This way, if ever taking a train, you would know exactly what time you should arrive at a certain city, which fell in a certain time zone, subtract or add the number of hours on your clock, and everything started to make better sense for our developing societies.

During humanity’s development, the period during all this defining was when England was a great power in the world, controlling many colonies. And with such power during this development, and such a strong naval power, in 1675 they labelled the centre of our time in Greenwich, and defined Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) as the zero time zone to help ships navigate the world and define longitudinal lines, such that the remaining parts of the world were either plus or minus so many hours from this zero point. The sun rises from our west and sets in our east. So if we move along the planet westwards, we are going back in our little created time, towards the morning of the time zone we are moving towards. Likewise, if we fly east, we are flying towards the setting sun, towards the end of the day, and hence we would add time to our clock. But in the big scheme of things, the time in the universe is steady, whereby we are only adding or subtracting hours on our own clock, simply for the convenience of defining for us what is morning and what is evening (in terms of the angle of the sun with reference to the point on the globe that we are stationed at). And if we go far enough west or east, meaning 12 hours in either direction from the GMT zero time, we will end up on the other side of the world from Greenwich England, where we could add or subtract half a day. So on one side of this other imaginary line it is a day later or earlier than on the other side. But this is just how we have divided up things, based on our fingers and the rotation of the earth and sun.

Trains: a large reason for the invention of time zonesIn the big scheme of things, time is constant, and God is eternal. God, in whose eyes "a day is like a thousand years", and who is "the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end". Things continue as they continue, and are as they are, but we humans, for our own convenience, have divided up everything according to the number of segments on our fingers. And we wake up hurriedly every morning to catch the 6:50 bus, to get to work by 9:00. These are all our own inventions.

And then we have daylight savings, which is the adding or subtracting of an hour to or from a particular time zone and at a particular time of the year, to help the farmer get up early to begin work in his field. But over time, the farmer did not have such an import or dominant role in society. Some areas use daylight savings while others do not. Recently, the US has shifted the time when it applies daylight savings because it has calculated it can save its economy billions of dollars by not forcing people to use their airconditioners so much at work .

So whatever time zone you are located in on this planet, and you are working on a translation assignment for KENAX, let us just agree on a delivery time based on the GMT time zone. Our customer may be in Japan and want the translation delivered by 4pm its time, before the end of its working day. According to the table above, where JST is +9, 4pm would be 7am GMT time. And if you are a translator working in Mexico city, meaning –6 from GMT, you would have to deliver your translation by 1am, or shortly after midnight.

As long as everything is delivered on "time" and the customer is happy!

And now that you understand how humans perceive time, perhaps you might be interested in how time is perceived in the eyes of God!

More time zone links here:

Time Zones Around The World - at TranslationDirectory.com
The World Clock
World Time Zones - current time and time zone map
Official US time - a service provided by the US government
Time Zones converter - to help you find the difference in time between various cities and countries
World Time Zones map - as provided by the US navy
Greenwich Meantime - and times in other places around the world
TimeTicker - showing times around the world in cool flash presentation
Time Zones explanation - detailed explanation by wikipedia
Actual times - quickly find the time anywhere in the world
Time Zones check - find the time with this interesting flash presentation

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Translation Service

Travel Tour Guide in Europe

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See Karel Kosman's Articles at TranslationDirectory.com:
Translation Tips
Translation Tips: Staying in Touch, Saving and Autosaving, Spellcheckers, Keyboards, Translating outside with your laptop
Translation Tips: Actually Translating, Finalising your Document, Counting Words, Sending your File
Translation Tips: Setting Up Your Monitor, Your Translation Workstation
Translation Tips: Setting up Your Surroundings, Learning How to Type, Dividing up the Screen, Using Translation Memory Tools
Translation Tips: OCR, Developing a Strategy
Translation Tips: Translation Rates
Translation Tips: How to get paid for translation jobs
Translation Tips: How to Format in Ms. Word
How to Graduate from University
Time zones theory

Published - August 2010

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