When young Albert Einstein worked at the Swiss patent office in Bern, the city featured a variety of clocks the people had every right to be proud of. These clocks performed their duty with the highest degree of accuracy – and they were synchronized. They all showed the same time without any measurable discrepancy. This was no gadgetry.
Railroads and telegraphy had just changed the face of the earth. Geographic distances were rapidly losing their relevance. Time was becoming more important. Getting things done at the anticipated time was becoming more important. The world was becoming smaller and it ticked faster. People were less tolerant towards asynchronism. Investing in infrastructure necessary to measure time was considered an important public interest – and supported accordingly.
Today, a watch synchronized with an atomic clock via satellite costs less than a full tank of gas, but asynchronism still gives us headaches. Take the stock market, for instance.
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