Wednesday, January 1, 2020

When and Where is Your GEOGRAPHICAL New Year's Day?

It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine...

For roughly the past one hundred years, humanity has used a system of meridian time zones to standardize and synchronize time across the planet.

Theoretically, centered on the Prime Meridian (0°), every fifteen degrees of longitude would equal another hour (360°/24 hours). Due to national and local boundaries, pride, and other excuses for human behavior, time zone boundaries rarely follow that Fifteen-Degree rule. 

Back before trains and GPS and national broadcasting networks, every place on Earth had their own local geographical time. You stick a ...stick in the ground, and note when the shadow disappeared, or pointed at True North (wait for the Sun to set and find Polaris). Draw a circle, and you've got a sun dial. (Mark Noon each day, and you've got a calendar.) Create a mechanical device which mimics the movement of the shadow, you've got a clock, and you can track time after sunset. 

Now... let's figure out your "Personal Midnight". To make it interesting, let's pretend there's an annihilation wave wiping out everything on the surface of the Earth. It's stationary in orbit, so as the Earth rotates, everything is scorched. A big wall of disintegration, blasting everything in its path! 

It starts at Midnight, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), right on the Prime Meridian. BAM! Accra, Valencia, and London are blasted with almost no warning. (Paris is spared, for now.) People panic as the news spreads. The wave continues methodically. When will it hit your state, your city, your house? 

Simple... we know that every 15 degrees of longitude equals one hour.
So every 1 degree of longitude equals four minutes (60 minutes/15 degrees).
That means for every 1 minute of time, the wave travels 15' of longitude.
For every 1' of longitude, 4 seconds of time have elapsed. 
One second of time equals 15'' of longitude.

Generally speaking, the wave is moving at a speed of 1200 feet per second, or roughly 800 miles per hour. (So forget about boarding an airplane and outrunning the wave!) 

Now, let's calculate your personal midnight.
I'll pick a nondescript landmark...The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota!
Wikipedia lists the coordinates as: 
45° 5′ 46.79″ N94° 24′ 37″ W

We'll want to use longitude, the second number in the coordinates: 94° 24′ 37″

First, multiply 94 degrees by four minutes. 376 minutes. That's 6 hours 16 minutes. You could stop there...if you're going to die, a few more minutes won't matter much, right?
But let's say you've had that crazy, only-if-you're-the-last-person-on-Earth, no regrets sex. You've shot a man, just to watch him die. You've broken 8 of the Ten Commandments. So while you wait for the last minutes to tick off, why not compute the exact moment, for complete closure?

24' multiplied by 4 seconds equals 96 seconds, or 1 minute 36 seconds.
37'' divided by 15'' is 2 and 7/15ths, or almost 2.47 seconds.

Add it all up, and the exact time of your demise would be 6:17:38.46 or 12:17:38 Central Standard Time.  

For those locations EAST of the Prime Meridian, subtract the east coordinate from 360 degrees, and then do the math.

What's that? You don't know what your local geographical coordinates are?
Oh... that's easy to find!

  1. Go to Google Maps. 
  2. Search and locate the address. Click your exact location on the map, and a big red pin will appear.
  3. Right-click on the big red locator pin and select "What's here?"
  4. A window will appear at the bottom of the map. Click on the coordinates listed. Google Maps will then search via the coordinates, and display them in degrees-minutes-seconds. Use the west or east coordinate to calculate your exact Midnight.