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SIMPLE SCIENCE: How does daylight saving time work?

On Sunday, Nov. 6, daylight saving time took place and clocks across the country moved back one hour, beginning at 2 a.m. local time.

Daylight saving time is rooted in a theory held by Benjamin Franklin, where he believed that adjusting the time on clocks would save people energy by making them spend more time using sunlight rather than candlelight. 

The time change was first implemented in the United States in May 1916 during World War I, in an attempt to save fuel for the war efforts. After the war, most countries repealed their daylight saving laws, while the U.S. switched between enacting and repealing the law for decades.

Time changes take place during odd hours of the night, as changes during the day could disrupt business activities and changes at midnight would change both the time and the day. 

Although it was initially meant to reduce energy usage, research has not shown it to be of any use. As 25 percent of electricity is used to power small appliances, it is believed that increasing the number of daylight hours would decrease the use of those appliances.

In the early 1970s, the U.S. Department of Transportation tested electricity usage from 22 providers over a period of time before and after daylight saving time. The department's report, published in 1975, showed about one percent change in electricity consumption during daylight saving time.

Harshel Patel is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in molecular biology and biochemistry. He is the digital editor of The Daily Targum. He can be found on Twitter @harshel_p.

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