In the early hours on Sunday morning British Summer Time (BST), also known as Daylight Saving Time (DST), will end and the United Kingdom will revert to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). This is a practice enacted in many countries as the clocks are adjusted to maximise the amount of daylight in most people’s normal waking hours.
Benjamin Franklin, the American politician and scientist, is popularly supposed to have proposed DST whilst in Paris in 1784. However, this is not the case, as there was no nationally unified time in France in the 18th century, or anywhere else come to that. What he actually proposed was getting up earlier to save candles, by making use of the extra hours of daylight in the summer mornings.
Incidentally, Benjamin Franklin coined the phrase "Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise".
Legend has it that in 1905 William Willett was riding his horse before breakfast, and was perturbed to see most houses had curtains drawn, indicating the occupants were still asleep, with the sun high in the sky. He proposed advancing the clocks 20 minutes every Sunday in April and reversing the process in September. This was widely considered a joke at the time and never adopted.
In fact he was beaten to the idea by a New Zealand shift worker and entomologist George Hudson in 1895. In effect, he got up early, as Benjamin Franklin proposed a century earlier, and enjoyed the daylight hours after work studying insects.
As with many things, war proved to be the catalyst, with Germany adopting DST to save coal in 1916, and the allies quickly following suit. Although the USA waited until 1918.
And during World War II the UK used GMT, BST and Double Summer Time, known as God’s Time, Government Time and Loony Time respectively.
And finally a question related to time: how many time zones does China have?
Very surprisingly, although China extends geographically over five time zones, the whole country uses the same time, and so the answer is one.