Daylight Saving Time: Fall Back Next Weekend

Daylight Saving Time will kick in next weekend as America looks to "Fall Back" by setting their clocks an hour behind on November 7, 2010. The act of gaining an hour will push back sunrise and sunset times - thusincreasingthe length of the lit day in the country.

Daylight saving time (DST) is the practice of temporarily advancing clocks so that afternoons have more daylight and mornings have less. Typically clocks are adjusted forward one hour near the start of spring and are adjusted backward in autumn. Modern DST was first proposed in 1895 by George Vernon Hudson. Many countries have used it since then; details vary by location and change occasionally.

The practice is controversial. Adding daylight to afternoons benefits retailing, sports, and other activities that exploit sunlight after working hours, but causes problems for farming, evening entertainment and other occupations tied to the sun. Traffic fatalities are reduced when there is extra afternoon daylight. Its effect on health and crime is less clear. Although an early goal of DST was to reduce evening usage of incandescent lighting, formerly a primary use of electricity, modern heating and cooling usage patterns differ greatly, and research about how DST currently affects energy use is limited or contradictory.

DST's occasional clock shifts present other challenges. They complicate timekeeping, and can disrupt meetings, travel, billing, recordkeeping, medical devices, heavy equipment, and sleep patterns. Software can often adjust computer clocks automatically, but this can be limited and error-prone, particularly when DST protocols are changed.

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