..... Stumper Index
Stumper #10.
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How Good Is Your Science KQ?

[i.e. your Knowledge Quotient]

- about the time at the North Pole -

When it is midnight at Greenwich, what time is it at the North Pole?

This is perhaps an especially interesting stumper since the answer is open to different points of view.

Several answers to this question were submitted by readers when the science weekly "New Scientist" posed it some years ago in its "The Last Word" column about everyday scientific phenomena.

One reader from New Zealand suggested that North Pole time must be determined by the circadian rhythm of each person at the Pole. As in the familiar question about whether sound is made by a falling tree in a forest if there is no-one there to hear it, perhaps that when there is no person at the Pole, clock-time does not exist?

Another reader pointed out that from a geophysical point of view time is determined locally according to the position of the Sun over the Earth, and that using this argument, time at any given moment is different at every single spot on Earth. Today's world in which timetables and schedules rule lives would never have evolved if this situation had been allowed to exist. In fact, earlier this century, our world was politically and administratively divided into twenty-four 15˚ time zones each being one hour earlier or later than its neighbors and within each of which people can generally rely on time being the same everywhere.

Fascinating! But, back to our stumper question, "What time is it at the North Pole". We need to remind you of some facts to help you reach what we are considering to be the "correct" answer. Keep in mind the fact that the North Pole is not included in any of the twenty-four time zones, and that the International Date Line runs directly across the North Pole which is therefore always at the junction of one day and the next. Considering these two clues, what time do you think it is at the North Pole?


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