It’s New Years eve and my friends and I are debating: how many time zones are there on Earth? I say that there can’t be more than 24 time zones, but my buddy says there are more. Seems like that’d define how many times New Year is celebrated each year.
What an interesting question. You’re right that the logical answer to the question is 24: there are 24 hours in a day and it’s also how long it takes for the Earth to rotate once around.
But then again, that seems too easy.
Sure enough, a quick check of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration site reveals that there are actually a rather staggering 30 different time zones on Earth. Yes, more than there are hours in a day.
How is this possible? Well, it turns out that there are some fractional time zones in addition to the hour-by-hour offsets.
First, though, a timezone map:
Curious about those fractional time zones? Here they are:
|Offset from UTC||Location|
Note: UTC = Universal Time Coordinated, the modern update to what used to be called Greenwich Mean Time.
Many people believe that India has multiple timezones, and some folk even suggest that the country has 15-minute timezones, but according to NASA:
India spans almost exactly two time zones, but their government decided that they wanted one time for the entire country. Their solution was to split the difference between what the time would be if they used two zones. So, Instead of the time being 10:00 in Bombay and 11:00 in Calcutta, the time is 10:30 in both places.
I think it’s entirely possible that this is the basis of the Chicago song lyric “Does anybody really know what time it is, Does anybody really care, If so I can’t imagine why…”
Oh, and Happy New Year, wherever you are!