Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Nepal Standard Time (wikipedia.org)
32 points by gkop on Jan 2, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 51 comments

"[It] was not till 1956 that [Nepal] set [their] watches for the first time to Nepal Standard Time, with the meridian at Mt Gauri Shankar, 100km east of Kathmandu [capital of Nepal]. It wasn't Mt Everest because Gauri Shankar was closer to Nepal's centre of gravity, as it were.

It was a choice that set [Nepal's] clocks 10 minutes ahead of India, which at the time used the longitude that passed through Calcutta. When [India] switched their meridian to Hyderabad in 1971, [Nepal] officially had four degrees of separation, and presto, found ourselves a further five minutes ahead of the Indians."


It's also worth mentioning Argentina,

"Argentina determines whether to observe daylight saving time on a year-by-year basis, and individual provinces may opt out of the federal decision. At present, Argentina does not observe daylight saving time."

-- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_in_Argentina

In Israel the topic of daylight saving time is subject to weird religious power struggles, and basically how long DST lasts depends on how much political power the ultra-religious parties have in the current parliament coalition (the more powerful they are, the less DST we get). This causes problems with automatic time zone shifts in phones, in cases where the OS doesn't get updated with this year's date range changes. Just this year some versions of Android had to set the time-zone to Athens for a few weeks.

Is it incompetence, arrogance, ignorance, or ? that'd lead them to making such annoying decisions? Argentina doesn't have a nutty religion forcing them to do this right?

I don't know. I'm not from here, just living here for a few months. But I'd say none of the above.

The country is huge and could easily cover more than one timezone, I'd hazard a guess at political reasons based on that, but don't take me as an authority because I'm not

It's pretty weird indeed. Think of the misery of a traveler from/to Nepal who has to do the extra mental math every time to figure out the time for another place.

They could have settled for an easier time, considering the country stretches over quite a few longitudes. Don't know what was the logic here!

It's worse than that. In a few mile territory you have: IST - which is on a half hour. NPT - which is on a 15 minute. CST - which is several hours different (as China does not have timezones per say) BST - which is normal, but is only observed in a small part of the region.

When I visited Urumuqi, Beijing time was used but everything opened and closed much later than usual. It was very strange.

China us on one timezone.

In typical bullheaded fashion, all of China is set to Beijing time. No wonder the people in the East are trying to revolt!

Did you mean West?

Far Far Far East.

What is so weird? I've been there several times. I can assure you, it is no different than in any other country. You can wake up at 7am and the sun is out. The sun goes down at about 6pm.

Go out, leave your desk and explore the world.

I think it was chosen to emphasise that Nepal isn't part of India.

Things like this are why programmers can't have nice things. Cultural historical oddities make for fun facts and an enormous amount of added complexity.

When I propose wacky, implausible ideas to friends like "a single world-wide time zone" or "replacing all writing with the international phonetic alphabet", the idea is to reduce things that make the technical debt for supporting the whole world enormous.

As it is, English programmers are frankly, most likely to make things that only work for English speakers. And then the technical debt of supporting Latin alphabets and US time zones and all the like multiply together. We should be thankful as much of the world adopted UTF8 and UTC as early as it did, but I don't envy anyone who has to work with systems that don't have good support for internationalization. Those people are in a terrible position, and with legacy systems, they might have to implement a terribly complex set of rules that are taken for granted by most people, and sometimes not even explicitly written down anywhere outside obscure papers on the topics.

Someone mentioned the current year in the Nepali calendar is 2071. So now you know, if you want to appropriately support customers in Nepal, you might want to support their calendar. But I don't know enough about Nepal to say whether or not anyone does. The Wikipedia page List of calendars is, frankly, a bit terrifying[1].

The fundamental problems of these fun cultural artifacts is the technical debt for old systems and the barrier to entry for new systems.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_calendars#In_use

The entire point of computers is to make things easier for people. If you want to force people to conform to make things easier for computers, you've got it exactly backwards.

"a single world-wide time zone", Yes.

As someone who works with clients in different parts of the world I really do long for a single time zone that we can all share. In local life will 12 noon will always be the ~same time, but for business I don't care.

Usually I try to use UTC, but it's not always successful, and just trying to pin down a suitable time to speak to someone across timezones can be difficult.


However, "replacing all writing with the international phonetic alphabet" is a terrible idea

> However, "replacing all writing with the international phonetic alphabet" is a terrible idea

What if we could dissociate spoken language from written language? We could just use the 26 letters in English to write everything. This could allow Romanization of everything without those pesky accent marks.


Perhaps I should have expanded on why writing a spoken language as IPA is a bad idea.

Language is fluid and always changing, if you start to spell words using the IPA then you need variations for every different accent and you need to update the spelling as accents change over time.

Words have almost always been written down as they sound, but then the way that we say them changes. Some changes in written language happen, an obvious contemporary example being the differences between UK English and US English. But writing in IPA would mean that we need to update our written texts as our language change or it would mean that every person has to speak it the same way and in every location forever, and that you need to police it so people don't speak incorrectly.

It seems you never have been abroad. Go out and explore the world yourself.

The is not for fun facts. It is history and where people live.

Nobody wants one time zone, because nobody wants to wake up at 8pm and go to work and such things. That is the reason why we have time zones. You know what, computers are pretty good in crunching numbers. So it is an easy task for them to do time shifts based on time zones. My iPhone is pretty good with it. I didn't had to adjust anything, when I visited Nepal and India for the last 5 years.

The same is with languages. Just try to learn another human language and not a computer language. It is much more joy.

The problem with these things only people have, which never experienced the world, their diversity, their history. There are so much things to discover about the world and yourself while experiencing the world.

1/ A single world-wide time zone won't work as I think you think it will work. At least while we care about daylight. Imagine you need to know what are business hours for someone in other region. E.g. you business hours could start at +9 single world-wide time zone, but other person's hours start at +23 SWWTZ. You are back at having timezones.

1.1/ Besides, we do have UTC. And people already use it for coordination of global events.

2/ Substituting writing system with IPA will break a lot of languages. Especially Chinese. English will branch out into dozen hardly interchangeable writing variants. With time it will get worse.

Having a global timezone is not quite so easy for people's brains, either: About half of everybody will live in a place where the day changes in the middle of the... day, for the lack of a better expression.

[The first day is the calendar day, the second is the solar day.]

Once you've built a system that understands timezones and offsets from UTC, does it really add all that much complexity to support offsets that are not whole multiples of half hours or hours?

"Once you've built a system that understands timezones and offsets from UTC"

I think that's the point he's complaining about: it's damn hard to build such a system because of the artificially induced complexity.

It's the simplicity that's artificial. Noon is a local event that occurs when the sun is due south. Timezones and standardized times are the abstractions.

> Noon is a local event that occurs when the sun is due south.

"When the sun lies neither east nor west of a particular point on the surface of the Earth."

At least, if you want "noon" to be something that happens everywhere on Earth.

Everywhere but two points, anyway...

But the "natural noon" you described is more simple than the timezones with DST that might or might not happen depending on who was elected locally and nationally.

A system where noon is regulated by a single, immutable equation describing the position of the Earth vis-à-vis the Sun would be much easier to implement.

Swatch tried "Internet Time", which was also decimal.


>"a single world-wide time zone" or "replacing all writing with the international phonetic alphabet"

Just wow man, you are taking lazyness to a whole new level.

I'd go to bed at 7 AM and wake up at 1 PM. A regular nine to five job would be 3 PM to 11 PM.

I, personally, have pretty much no social life so it wouldn't affect me that much if we had to work nine hundred hours to seventeen hundred hours UTC while living in central time zone (UTC - 6:00).

I'd imagine we'd burn up a lot more fuel if everyone worked nights and slept days though. Also, I read somewhere that access to sunlight (or lack thereof) can alter people's emotional state.

A single timezone for the whole world made much more sense in Asimov's Robot novels. But that was because everyone lived underground or in domed cities (I forget which), so they didn't care about the position of the sun and woke up / went to bed at the same time globally.

In Nepal the year is 2071 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nepali_calendar)

It is an amazing country. Nepal is the "roof of the world".

Nepal is not the roof of the world. Tibet is the roof of the world. I've been there and have people there, which I consider as friends.

Unround timezone offsets are exotic to you? That's not even the half of it, sonny!

How about the year where Shanghai had the same 5 minutes and 52 seconds twice:


Or the year where Germany had TWO hours worth of daylight savings time (hint: that happens to be Moscow time)?


I actually once had a production bug based on that, due to an overzealous sanity check in the Java Calendar class which considered all dates in Germany in the summer of 45 invalid...

In North Korea, the year is 104. The Soviet Union had one time zone for the entire country. So 8pm in Moscow was 8pm in Vladivlostok. Afghanistan also has a 30 minute offset. Luckily for me (for now) Nepal isn't my target market!

Nope, wrong for Soviet Union, it spanned 11 time zones: Kaliningrad (Königsberg) to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, with summer/winter time.

By the way, there's another opportunity for oddity wrt. time: the change from summer to winter time and back can occur at different dates in different countries. And indeed, it does.

China currently only uses one time zone, enough though it should span ~5 zones

Trains (and station clocks) in Russia still run on Moskow time.

Nothing in Nepal is ever standard, even down to the shape of their national flag! :)

The construction of Nepal's flag is a straightedge-and-compass construction and is specified in their constitution.

Numberphile made a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2Gne3UHKHs

That's an outstanding video. I immediately shared this link you kindly shared with a Facebook group about mathematics for beginners and enthusiasts. Thanks.

Almost everything Numberphile does would be good for that group!

I've run into this building various analytics systems. The off-by-45-minutes timezones mean that if you want to keep your data in UTC and translate to local time in the UI, you have to maintain 15-minute granularity. (Although 30-minute or 1-hour granularity might be good enough depending on what users you need to initially support.)

I recently received a bug report from a client asking for display support for "Central Western Standard Time". (+845, no DST, not officially recognized) It is the result of a compromise between Central and Western timezones in Australia, and is used by four towns and a roadhouse. (total population: ~200)

Nice time zone map:


Note the 5 3/4 for Nepal.

Why is there a little chunk of Greenland that's 3 hours offset from the rest of the country?

Presumably it has more connection with Iceland than the rest of Greenland (not necessarily historically, but economically or transport or whatever).

Wikipedia doesn't mention it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ittoqqortoormiit

Interesting! There are no airports in that area. The time zone is named Danmarkshavn time zone. Danmarkshavn is a weather station in the zone with a permanent population of 8.

So does this mean that NST uses distance between indian meridian and Mt. Gauri to set the NST?

It means Nepal Time is designed to be as true to the natural time as possible for Kathmandu, the capital city. It'd be a little ridiculous to say Nepal Time is UTC + 5:41:46 though. Not much more ridiculous than what we have now but still a little more ridiculous.

Tom Scott has a wonderful video walking through the overwhelming complexity of timezones: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5wpm-gesOY

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact