Have you ever wondered why the world uses Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) to regulate clocks and time? How did this time system come about and what does it mean for different time zones? Here are some interesting facts and quotes about UTC that you may not know.
UTC is the primary time standard by which the world regulates clocks and time. It is within about one second of mean solar time at 0° longitude and is not adjusted for daylight saving time. UTC is effectively a successor to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), which was the mean solar time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England. GMT was used as the basis for civil time in Britain and other parts of the world until the 1960s.
UTC is based on International Atomic Time (TAI), which is a time scale that uses highly precise atomic clocks to measure the duration of a second. However, since the Earth’s rotation is not constant and slows down over time, TAI and mean solar time gradually drift apart. To keep UTC in sync with the Earth’s rotation, leap seconds are added or subtracted at irregular intervals. Leap seconds are inserted as necessary to keep UTC within 0.9 seconds of the UT1 variant of universal time, which is based on the Earth’s angle with respect to the stars.
The official abbreviation for UTC stems from a compromise between English and French speakers who suggested different names for the same concept. English speakers initially proposed CUT (for “coordinated universal time”), while French speakers suggested TUC (for “temps universel coordonné”). The resulting compromise was UTC, in line with the pattern for the abbreviations of the variations of Universal Time (UT). UTC does not show preference for any specific language.
UTC was first officially adopted as CCIR Recommendation 374, Standard-Frequency and Time-Signal Emissions, in 1963, but the official abbreviation of UTC and the official English name of Coordinated Universal Time (along with the French equivalent) were not adopted until 1967. The coordination of time and frequency transmissions around the world began on 1 January 1960.
Time zones around the world are expressed using positive or negative offsets from UTC, as in the list of time zones by UTC offset. The westernmost time zone uses UTC−12, being twelve hours behind UTC; the easternmost time zone uses UTC+14, being fourteen hours ahead of UTC. UTC is the common time standard across the world.
UTC is more than just a way of keeping track of time. It is also a way of connecting people across different regions and cultures. As one website puts it: “UTC connects us all to each other and to our shared history.”
– What is UTC? | Space, Space, August 26, 2022
– UTC: The World’s Time Standard, timeanddate.com, August 23, 2022
– How to convert UTC to local time in Excel?, ExtendOffice, August 24, 2022
– Coordinated Universal Time – Wikipedia, Wikipedia, not available