By Nikita Hillier
It’s time to talk about time.
I’ve always been pretty content with the fact that when I look at a clock it represents the time in my location, it’s a simple thing to understand. It always instils a sense of enchantment in me that although I’m watching a sunset where I am, others won’t see the same sunset for hours in another location. Time zones are an incredible concept. But while doing some internet surfing I came across the term ‘UTC’. My first thought was, is this a mistake? What is UTC? Just tell me the time in my time zone and I can stay happy. But no, let’s confuse people more by adding more complication to an already (extremely) complicated topic. So, what is this UTC all about? What is the difference between UTC and GMT? Is there really a difference?
What is time?
This question itself is well, as old as time. A lot of people will tell you time is just a social construct but it’s really up to you as to what stance you have on the concept of time. Funnily enough, Physicists are still debating whether or not time actually exists. So, if Physicists are doubting time itself then naturally our brain begins to think of plenty of wonderful and wild questions that professionals themselves still haven’t figured out. The answer is- it’s different for every person depending on what you’ve read or learnt. Some will say time itself is a lie, some will say the world wouldn’t exist without time. If you want a Wikipedia answer you will be told that time is the indefinite, continued process of existence and events that occur in an ‘irreversible succession’ from the past, through the present, and into the future.
What is UTC?
According to Wikipedia:
“Coordinated Universal Time (or UTC) is the primary time standard by which the world regulates clocks and time. It is within about 1 second of mean solar time at 0° longitude, and is not adjusted for daylight saving time.”
If your brain works like mine, that technical jargon doesn’t make a whole lot of sense; I mean, you get the idea but is there any other way to explain it in simpler terms? To simplify it, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), is the standard time zone of the world. Previously the standard time was Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). UTC and GMT are almost the same thing, but not quite. We will talk more about that later. UTC can also be referred to as Civil Time or Zulu Time. Some websites (Wikipedia for example) use UTC because it doesn’t make any country look more important than the others, it offers one time all over the internet.
What is the difference between UTC and GMT?
Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is often interchanged or confused with Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Basically, Coordinated Universal Time or UTC is a standard, there is no time zone, territory, or country that uses it for a local time. Greenwich Mean Time or GMT on the other hand is the official time zone used in that region, which runs through several European and African countries.
It never hurts to stay educated and explore new topics. Before writing this blog post, I didn’t have the slightest idea what UTC was, but it was a great learning experience and I had a great time researching. Next time you are admiring the moon cycle or watching the weather patterns, consider acknowledging whether the app you’re looking at is using a time standard or a time zone, you will be shocked to see how much UTC is actually used!
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