Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Time Travel and the standard SNAFU

Flying from LAX to Sydney, a 14+ hour trip, there's plenty of time to think about time zones and the international date line...

The first chunk of the trip to the Antarctic is now complete.  It all started with a 3-hour bus ride to Logan Airport, then a 6-hour flight to LA, 4-hour layover, then 14 hours to Sydney, then 3.5 hours in Auckland...  and customs in Auckland was slow enough that I missed the last flight of the day to Christchurch.  Delay point number one!  Overnight in Auckland.  Then the next day, I arrived in Christchurch, got issued my Extreme Cold Weather gear, and headed for the hotel, with plans to arrive the next morning at 8:30 to check in for the flight to the ice.  

No such luck!  at around midnight I was awakened by the phone, and the night clerk informed me that we'd been given a 24-hour delay, and that since my hotel was fully booked I'd move to another one.  So now I'm itinerant in Christchurch!

So that's the standard SNAFU.  But why did I label this post with time travel?  Well, crossing the international date line on a flight like this is pretty close to time travel; crossing 17 time zones and the international date line, we lose almost 2 days; it turns out that for most of October 26, 2014, I did not exist!  Even crazier is that the long flight left LAX at 11:50 pm, and arrived in Sydney at 8:30 am.  I got to thinking where the sun was while we were flying, and realized that the sunrise was following us, racing us, and we were losing!  I then went about thinking about how "fast" the sunrise moves around the world.  Well, the Earth revolves at 15 degrees per hour, and on the Equator, a minute of longitude is a nautical mile, so a degree is 60, making 15 degrees 900 nautical miles, meaning the sunrise races around the Earth at 900 knots!  No wonder it can beat a jet airplane...

Ok, signing off for now; better luck for us tomorrow perhaps!


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