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Time Lord: The Remarkable Canadian Who Missed His Train and Changed the… (2000)
by Clark Blaise
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375401768, Hardcover)In the 1880s, a businessman traveling by train from New York to Boston needed, on arrival, to adjust his clock, moving it ahead by 12 minutes. The strange increment, writes Clark Blaise, was a matter of local interpretation, some enterprising Bostonian having determined that the rising sun touched the shore of Massachusetts a dozen minutes before warming Manhattan.
Such local interpretations of time made the job of establishing railroad schedules a matter of guesswork and hope, as the Canadian entrepreneur Sandford Fleming discovered when he missed a train in the west of Ireland in 1876. Frustrated, Fleming realized that a new system of universal time would need to be created if railroad travel were ever to realize its full potential. As Blaise writes, "the adoption of standard time for the world was as necessary for commercial advancement as the invention of the elevator was for modern urban development," and nations such as England that had a system of standard time in place owed much of their economic superiority to the predictability and reliability such a system put in place.
Fleming discovered that getting the world onto the same schedule required years of negotiating and browbeating, a nightmare that Blaise ably recounts. Fleming's efforts eventually paid off, and as Blaise writes, "Of all the inventions of the Industrial Age, standard time has endured, virtually unchanged, the longest." His entertaining account of how that came to be will be of appeal to readers who enjoyed Dava Sobel's Longitude, Henry Petroski's The Pencil, and other popular works in the history of technology. --Gregory McNamee
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 14 Feb 2013 13:38:28 -0500)
"Drawing on Fleming's vast archive of letters, diaries and reports, Clark Blaise in this book tells the story of the creation of a single time standard for the world. In 1878 Fleming's idea was rejected as too trivial for discussion by the British Association for the Advancement of Science, but six years later, after a campaign that took Fleming to every international meeting of astronomers and geographers, he had forged an influential network of engineers, railroad men and astronomers that proved irresistable. World standard time became a reality in 1884 at a diplomatic and scientific conference in Washington, D.C., called by the President of the United State."--BOOK JACKET.
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