A Learner’s Guide to Time Zones

posted in: Where's Waldo? | 2

As we take you on a walk around Prague, Walden is going to teach you about time zones in honor of the famous astronomical clock here!

Prague Castle, the largest Castle Complex in the World (noted in Guinness Book of World Records)

Charles Bridge


Ever wanted to text someone after school, but it turns out they’re asleep; cause it’s midnight where they are. No, you probably haven’t.

But this has been our experience throughout the trip; and it’s due to annoying things called time zones.

Old Jewish Cemetery and Pinkas Synagogue

The Golem legend in the Jewish Quarter was interesting (see clay character above). In the story Rabbi Löw created Golem to protect the Jews from attacks, as well as to help with household tasks and chores. But when the Rabbi forgot to let him rest for the Sabbath, he become violent and destructive. The Rabbi had to put him out of commission by removing his tablet and placing his remains in the attic of the Old-New Synagogue. Some people claim they have found indications of him there!

To understand how time zones work, you must first understand what time zones are and why they exist.

Jewish Quarter

Our Earth spins on an imaginary line called an axis. One full spin around the axis gives us a full day on our planet, or 24 hours. Imagine that you’re shining a flashlight at the Earth. One side of the world will be covered in light, but the other will be shrouded in darkness. The flashlight represents our sun, and it’s light gives us day and separates night. So if the Earth only had one time zone, in some countries people would be hard at work during the middle of the day; whilst on the other side of the world, someone would have to be sleeping during the middle of the day.

One of the most expensive hotels in Prague. U-G-L-Y Communist Architecture

 So during the 1800’s scientists decided to divide the world into time zones so that at noon, in every part of the world, the sun would be at it’s highest point in the sky. They loosely based the lines dividing the time zones on lines of longitude. Longitudinal lines are the lines that go up and down the Earth, instead of latitudinal lines which go left to right. An easy way to remember this is that lines of latitude “lay down,” so longitudinal lines go “longways.” The rotation of the Earth is 360 degrees and each time zone is 15 degrees of longitude.

This gives us 24 different time zones, one for each hour of the day.

The Spanish Synagogue

Franz Kafka

But how do time zones work you might ask?

Well, all time zones start in a suburb in London called Greenwich. Greenwich lies on the dividing line of longitude known as the prime meridian. Forty-one different delegates from twenty-five nations voted on this at the International Meridian Conference in 1884. The time there is known as Greenwich Mean Time or GMT. If you move to the left (looking at a globe) or west of Greenwich, then the time zones get an hour earlier. Move to the right or east, the time zones get later.

Cubist Architecture, House of the Black Madonna

So if you’re in Cookeville, you are on Central Time which is one of the four time zones that cover the US. Central Time is 6 time zones to the left of Greenwich

so if it is noon in Greenwich it’s 6 AM in Cookeville.

Statentheater where W.A. Mozart conducted his 1787 premiere of his opera Don Giovanni.

This statue is meant to commemorate it, but is often a common place for drunk Czechs to get their head stuck.

Astronomical Clock, the Czechs claim that this is the second most recognizable site in Europe, second only to the Eiffel Tower and the only astronomical clock still in use.

(The Czechs like superlatives!)

We are in Prague right now, which is one time zone to the right of Greenwich. So what time would it be in Prague if it was noon, Central Time, in Cookeville? 7 PM!

You’re right! As you can see time zones can be a little complicated but still are an important thing that’s used universally. Without time zones, time would always be the same for everyone.

They may seem to be quite annoying, but are really a useful tool for everyone.

Medieval Bridge as seen from underground in Metro

Powder Tower


2 Responses

  1. Carolyn

    Looks like a fantastic trip! I believe you can come home and write a book. Look forward to seeing y’all soon
    Love
    Carolyn

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