Thursday, August 7, 2008

Tonight's trivia question - how many time zones are in the United States?

Tonight's trivia question - how many time zones are in the United States?

For purposes of this question, do not differentiate between Arizona and the rest of the Mountain Time Zone - treat them all as a single time zone.

If you answered four, you're wrong.

If you answered five, you're still wrong.

If you answered six, you're still wrong.

Let's take a look at some of the time zones that you counted, then look at the ones that you might have missed (and that I definitely missed).

Of course, we all know about the Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific time zones.

Some people may have also remembered to count the Alaska and the Hawaii-Aleutian time zones.

Well, those aren't the only time zones in the U.S.

How about the Atlantic time zone? Yup, the Atlantic time zone isn't strictly limited to Canada.

The Atlantic standard time zone, includes that part of the United States that is between 52[deg]30[sec] W. longitude and 67[deg]30[sec] W. longitude and that part of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico that is west of 67[deg]30[sec] W. longitude, but does not include any part of the State of Maine.

OK, so this gives you an idea of the places that we'll be looking. Next, the Samoa time zone.

The Samoa standard time zone, includes that part of the United States that is between 169 degrees 30 minutes west longitude and 172 degrees 30 minutes west longitude, but does not include any part of the States of Hawaii and Alaska.

Ah, but we're not done yet. The U.S. has a ninth time zone, the Chamorro time zone.

The Chamorro standard time zone, includes the Island of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

The website gives standard time zone values for each of the nine time zones listed above. From east to west, the values are:

  • Atlantic GMT-4

  • Eastern GMT-5

  • Central GMT-6

  • Mountain GMT-7

  • Pacific GMT-8/li>
  • Alaska GMT-9

  • Hawaii GMT-10

  • Samoa GMT-11

  • Chamorro GMT+10
Note that some of these time zones do not observe Daylight Saving Time. Therefore, as of today, there is NOT a two-hour difference between Los Angeles and Honolulu.

Also note that the Chamorro time zone has a plus sign instead of a minus sign. Why?

In December 2000, Congress established the ninth U.S. time zone, the Chamorro Time Zone, for Guam and the Northern Marianas west of the International Date Line. The zone, whose time is 14 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, is named for the indigenous people of the region.

So Guam and Samoa are on opposite sides of the International Date Line. And when you throw in some of the independent countries in the region, things can get really confusing:

The Pacific Basin area covers the six island jurisdictions of American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Guam, Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), and Republic of Palau (Palau)....

Communication both within the area and between the area and the mainland can be challenging because it ranges over sixteen time zones. Be careful: even the date may differ as the international date line runs through the region. Further complicating matters, although California (like the vast majority of the United States) observes daylight saving time, none of the six island jurisdictions does.

I guess I could close this with a reference to the Ladytron song "International Date Line," but perhaps a reference to a song from the band Chicago (GMT-6) is more appropriate:

Does anybody really know what time it is?
Does anybody really care?

Sphere: Related Content
blog comments powered by Disqus