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humor 2000: The International Dateline
Nick's G-Rated Humor List
I don't exercise at all. If the good Lord
meant us to touch our toes, He would have
put them further up our body.
Today's Anagram: Dormitory == Dirty Room
I have something special to share with you. It's not a joke, just
something "funny". But to appreciate it fully, let's review the need for
and the location of the International Date Line (IDL). In brief, the IDL is
necessary because the world is round. And it's located exactly opposite
the prime meridian. The Prime Meridian -- longitude 0 degrees from N-pole
to S-pole -- passes through Greenwich, a borough of Greater London.
Someone leaving Greenwich at noon Friday (wiht the sun directly overhead),
moving west at a sufficient speed to keep the sun directly overhead, would
return to Greenwich 24 hours later, noon Saturday. The trip took one day,
but the traveller was always at "noon" (sun directly overhead, remember?).
Thus, somewhere along the trip, noon Friday must have changed into noon
Saturday. By common agreement, this occurs along the 180 degree meridian
N-pole to S-pole, the International Date Line, chosen because that line is
mostly ocean and far from major populations.
Now stay with me!
The IDL (International Date Line) is half way around the globe from the
Prime Meridian. When it's noon in Greenwich, England it's midnight along
the IDL. And since each new day begins at midnight, when Saturday begins
just west of the IDL, Sunday has begun to the right of the IDL. More
specifically, looking at a globe of the Earth, one can imagine the
following written on either side of the IDL.
<--- Asia IDL Americas --->
At 11:59PM IDL At 11:59 PM
it's Saturday IDL it's Friday
SUNDAY BEGINS IDL SATURDAY BEGINS
AT MIDNIGHT IDL AT MIDNIGHT
Anyone passing the IDL going west loses a day,
(Wed jumps to Thurs)
anyone passing the IDL going east gains a day.
(Thurs to Wed).
Now suppose that I stand (float) facing north on
the IDL at midnight (from 11:59 pm to 12:01 pm)
<--- Asia IDL Americas --->
Time for my IDL Time for my right
left hand flows IDL hand flows from
from Saturday IDL Friday to Saturday
And anyone [considered as a mathematical point]
crossing the IDL going west (from Americas to Asia)
at "midnight exactly" experiences the following:
<--- Asia IDL Americas --->
SUNDAY BEGINS IDL At 11:59 PM
AT MIDNIGHT IDL it's Friday
... and Saturday [the entire 24 hours] has disappeared in addition to the
"day lost" that would occur going west across the IDL at any other time of
1900 & 2000 --- What Could They Have in Common?
The following is reprinted from:
"Ships and the Sea," Vol 3, No. 4 by John Euller
I regret that I do not know sent this to me,
but my sincere thanks to you. Nick Brown
The night was warm and inviting, and the stars shone in all their tropical
brilliance. Captain John D.S. Phillips was in a dark corner of the bridge,
quietly pulling on a cigar with all the contentment that comes to a sailor
when he knows the voyage is half over.
His ship, the passenger steamer Warrimoo, was quietly knifing through the
waters of the mid-Pacific on her trip from Vancouver to Australia. The
Navigator had just finished working out a star fix and brought his Captain
the results. The Warrimoo's position was spotted at about Latitude 0
degrees 30' North and Longitude 179 degrees 30' West. The date was
December 30, 1899.
First Mate Dayldon broke in: "Captain, do you know what this means? We are
only a few miles from the intersection of the Equator and the International
Captain Phillips knew exactly what it meant, and he was prankish enough to
take full advantage of the opportunity of achieving the navigational freak
of a lifetime. In an ordinary crossing of the Date Line, it is confusing
enough for passengers, but the possibilities he had before him were sure to
confound them for the rest of their lives.
The Captain immediately called four more navigators to check and double
check the ship's position every few minutes. He changed course slightly so
as to bear directly on his mark, then carefully adjusted engine speed so
that he would strike it just at the right moment. The calm weather, the
clear night and the eager cooperation of his entire crew all worked
successfully in his favor. At exactly midnight local time, the Warrimoo
lay exactly on the Equator at exactly the point where it crosses the
International Date Line.
The consequences of this bizarre position were many. The bow of the ship
was in the southern hemisphere, and in the middle of summer. The stern was
in the northern hemisphere and in the middle of winter. The date in the
aft part of the ship was December 30, 1899. Forward, it was the First of
January 1900. The ship was, therefore, not only in two different days, two
different months, two different seasons and two different years, but in two
different centuries!... and all at the same time.
Moreover, the passengers were cheated out of a New Year's Eve celebration,
and one entire day, December 31, 1899 disappeared from their lives for all
time. There were compensations, however, for the people aboard the Warrimoo
were undoubtedly the first to greet the new century, and Captain John
Phillips, speaking of the event many years later, said: "I have never heard
of it happening before, and I guess it won't happen again until the year
Nick wonders --- did it happen?
Did any ship do this, or will we
need to wait another century? :-)
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