The world runs on time. Time is money. Everything that comprises your day is largely controlled by the amount of time that you have, or perceive to have. When you really take a moment to step back and analyze just what time is, you realize that it is nothing more than a societal construct to help everyone coexist and function together. Of course, this idea of time has allowed the organization of great societies that our ancestors who had no concept of strict time schedules may have never imagined. But it is, all the same, a powerful control over the vast majority of us, a binding factor that sways so many decisions and actions, and is unique to our species.
Our different ways of synchronizing time
One reason why time is so important to our species is because it allows us to coordinate and succeed in reaching desired goals together. Issues can be resolved, products can be manufactured and delivered, meetings addressing important topics can be held. But how are we able to coordinate with such precision? Few people think of the mechanics behind the ticking of a clock and what it means in relation to all of the other ticking clocks, but there have been ways to synchronize all of these tools of time that we use, particularly in the last few decades, in order to bring accurate precision to these machines that tell time. Lately, wifi clocks have made a big splash, whether it is a wifi digital wall clock or a mobile device. These wifi clocks stem off of three different systems, the NTP, the PTP, and GPS.
- Understanding the different time protocols
- Network Time Protocol
NTP is the oldest one of the protocols that we use today. It has been used since around 1985, though it’s beginnings originated a few years before that. An NTP network time server can be used to synchronize all of the participating computers in a particular network. Factors such as network congestion can cause errors and slight latency.
- Precision Time Protocol
As the name suggests, PTP offers more precision than many NTP systems. This protocol was initially standardized in 2002 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, often referred to as “eye triple E.” PTP is used instead of NTP when even the slightest millisecond counts. As a more accurate protocol than NTP, it is more expensive, but still more affordable than having a GPS receiver at every node or where GPS signals are not accessible.
- Global Positioning System
GPS systems utilize the 31 working satellites, which each have built in and incredibly accurate atomic clocks. Not only does the GPS system provide time information, but it also provides geolocation data as well. Both NTP and PTP systems can utilize GPS.
The evolution of timekeeping
Because our species is unique in keeping time, there has certainly been an evolution of how we view it, and a bit of trial and error in what works best. Humans have been keeping track of time for 5,000 or 6,000 years. People in ancient Egypt were the first to keep track of time in a way similar to what we do today. They used primitive sundials, and much later on, the first mechanical clocks were created in Europe during the 14th century. When the French Revolution wrapped up, there was an attempt to make use of a 10 hour clock. And in the early 1900s, the Soviet Union attempted to institute weeks that were five and six days long. Today, everyone is pretty much on the same page when it comes to time, though there are some places that look at it a bit differently than others. Some use a 12 hour clock, while others use the 24 hour system. Some places observe Daylight Savings Time, others do not. Overall, it is not too difficult to coordinate with anyone anywhere around the globe using the standardized system of time that we all rely upon, especially with the use of wifi clocks and the latest time protocols.
Whether you are going retro with an antique wind up watch, or you prefer an accurate and reliable wifi clock, it is never too difficult to figure out what time it is.