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Amazing Time Facts

Time has fascinated and complexed mathematicians, inventors and scientists for centuries. Enjoy these interesting facts about time and why not also visit our time trivia quiz page.

  1. Did you know that the science or art of measuring time is called Horology? However, this refers mostly to the study of mechanical time-keeping devices; whilst 'chronometry' applies to modern electronic devices.
  2. If you cross the Chinese - Afghanistan border you’ll need to adjust your watch by 3.5 hours!
  3. There are no clocks in Las Vegas gambling casinos.
  4. In 1752 Britain changed from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian. By doing so, 3 September instantly became 14 September - and as a result, 11 days were lost with nothing whatsoever happened in British history between 3 and 13 September 1752. Many people believed their lives would be shortened by 11 days.

  5. A 4.4-billion-year-old zircon crystal, found in Western Australia, is the oldest known object on Earth. That's just 160 million years younger than the Earth itself.
  6. If we compressed the age of our Universe (roughly 13.8 billion years) into a year then dinosaurs would have become extinct on 29 December and modern humans would appear at 11:54pm on New Year's Eve.
  7. The most accurate clocks ever built are atomic clocks. Uses include global navigation satellite systems such as GPS, and controlling the wave frequencies of television broadcasts. The strontium atomic clock is the most accurate clock ever built - it's accurate to within one second over 15 billion years.
  8. Just sixty-six years is the difference between the very first powered flight and man landing on the moon. In fact, if still alive, Orville Wright would have been 97 at the time of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
  9. Amazingly Cleopatra lived more than 400 years closer to the Internet age than she did to the building of the pyramids.
  10. In 2013, Buckingham Palace advertised for a Royal Horological Conservator – someone to wind up over 1,000 clocks and check they were always accurate. The salary was £31,200.
  11. On your 50th birthday you will have been been alive for 1,577,998,583 seconds; or 26,299,976 minutes; or 438,332 hours; or 18,263 days; or (finally!) 2,609 weeks.
  12. Wristwatches started to become more popular than pocket watches for the first time in the late 1920s.
  13. Between 1929 and 1940, Stallin changed the length of the week three times in the Soviet Union. In 1930 weekends were abolished to fulfil work quotas. In 1931 it went to a six-day week and eventually back to a seven-day week in 1940.
  14. An average person will spend 25 years of their lifetime asleep.
  15. The sunlight you can see and feel has taken roughly 8 minutes and 20 seconds to reach you. And the light from Proxima Centauri (our nearest star) is 4 years old.
  16. A tortoise named Tu'i Malila was allegedly a gift to the royal family of Tonga by Captain James Cook. It was the longest-lived tortoise (whose age has been verifiedied) and died aged 188 years in May 1965.
  17. The longest possible eclipse of the sun is 7 minutes and 19 seconds. The longest total eclipse for thousands of years will be in July 16, 2186; it will last 4 minutes.
  18. A French lady called Jeanne Calment (1875-1997) is the oldest verified living person ever; she died at the age of 122 years 164 days. Charlotte Hughes (1877–1993) is the longest-lived (documented) person in the UK at 115 years 228 days. Britian's last living Victorian was Ethel Lang, who died in January 2015.
  19. A hummingbird's wings flap around 50 times per second.
  20. Anyone in the UK who reaches 100 receives a personal message of congratulation from the Queen. Then a second congratluatory message at 105, and every birthday after that.

  21. Time passes slower the faster you move. If a space traveller was travelling at 99.999% the speed of light, only 1 year would pass on his space journey for every 223 years back on Earth.
  22. Apollo missions took approximately three days to reach the moon. A manned mission to Mars would take about seven months to get there.
  23. If you could drive to the sun at 100 miles per hour it would take over 106 years to get there.
  24. The speaking clock was first introduced in Britain on July 24, 1936. As of 2016, there has been four permanent voices for the speaking clock - the first was that of London telephonist Ethel Cain.
  25. A Great Basin bristlecone pine tree, given the name Methuselah, is 4,847-year-old! It can be found in the White Mountains, California.
  26. In 46BC Julius Caesar's gave the orders for two new months to be introduced: July named after himself, and August after his successor Augustus.
  27. Ronnie Ray Smith, Jim Hines and Charles Green were the first three sprinters to break the 10-second barrier for the 100 metres - it happened all in the same race on 20 June 1968, coined the 'Night of Speed'.
  28. Until the early 19th century, British towns set their clocks by local noon time. This meant, for example, Bristol was 11 minutes behind London. With the new invention of railways people kept missing their trains. As a result, in 1840, the Great Western Railway introduced a London-based UK time system. Hence, having the same time across whole countries was purely started to make train timetables easier to run.
  29. The first worn timepieces were large 'clock-watches' worn on a pendant around the neck or fastened to clothing. When Charles II introduced waistcoats in the 17th century, men began to wear watches in pockets instead of as pendants (however, women wore watches on pendants into the 20th century).
  30. In a North Wales churchyard, Llangernyw Yew is probably the oldest individual tree in Europe and second or third oldest individual tree in the world. It is believed to be between 4,000 years and 5,000 years old.
  31. In 1836, John Belville created a business selling time. He worked at the Greenwich Observatory and afer setting his watch to Greenwich Mean Time he travelled locally to set the clocks correctly for clients subscribed to the service.
  32. Pulsar produced the first digital electronic watch with an LED display in 1972.
  33. The Moon orbits Earth approximately every 27.322 days.
  34. The Earth takes slightly longer than 365 days to go around the Sun so we add a day in February every four years to keep calendars and seasons aligned.
  35. Creme Puff was an American cat who died three days after her 38th birthday on August 6, 2005.
  36. It takes Mercury 88 days to orbit the sun. The furthest planet from the sun is Neptune, and this takes 164.8 years to make one orbit of the sun.
  37. When displayed in catalogues and shops, watches are mostly set to show the time 10:10. At this settingas the hands don't obscure the manufacturer's logo and rumour has it that this setting was also chosen to represent a postive smilie face. This default time has been carried over to digital watches.
  38. John Harrison (1693– 1776), a self-educated English carpenter and clockmaker, invented the marine chronometer. This timepiece was accurate enough to solve the problem of calculating longitude while at sea. His timepiece revolutionized navigation and safety of long-distance sea travel.