This Day in World History - Why does most every country in the world agree on how to determine what time it is? You can thank the International Prime Meridian Conference, which began on October 13, 1884, and lasted nearly ten days. The twenty-five countries that gathered in Washington , D.C., agreed to accept the line of longitude that passed through Britain’s Royal Observatory as the prime meridian—the line of 0° longitude (just as the Equator is 0° latitude). The nations also agreed that the time at Greenwich would be the standard time against which all other times would be compared—Greenwich Mean Time.Add a Comment
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On the morning of Tuesday, January 12th, 2010, I turned on my favorite radio program and sat down to work on one of the illustrations for my forthcoming book: While You Are Sleeping: A Lift-the-Flap Book of Time Around the World. I was painting a nighttime scene of three children sleeping in Haiti. With a collage of photographs up on my computer screen for reference, I carefully assembled a fictitious image based on visual facts.
Like all the scenes in the book, this one features a clock, showing the time of day and an appropriate sky to match. But I want my book to teach about more than just time zones. I want it to convey something about what life is like in other parts of the world – how it is different, and how it is the same. The three Haitian children in this illustration share a tattered mattress on a floor of packed earth. They sleep in their clothes under bare walls and windows without glass. But despite a standard of living which the average reader of my book will never experience, these children have each other, and they sleep peacefully.
Suddenly, a news report interrupted the morning radio program: Haiti had just been hit by a devastating earthquake. I stopped painting, and considered what would happen in an earthquake to a house such as this, built of mud and concrete. That picture would not be so pretty. Clearly, my depiction of Haiti was scarcely grim enough. Yet I'm glad it's included in the book, among many other scenes showing children engaged in daily activities which may not be familiar to the majority of my readers.
Though none are as tragic as Haiti, every illustration in While You are Sleeping shows something real. A young girl in England rises early to milk a goat before school. A boy in Thailand climbs a lychee tree and picks the ripe fruit for his afternoon snack. A pre-teen in India carries her baby brother to an outdoor public well, where she pumps water by hand and bathes him in an enamel basin. A Nigerian girl carries a bowl of fruit on her head past neighbors grinding millet in a large wooden mortar. While these places have not gained the world attention the earthquake brought to Haiti, they show children the reality of how other people live even in today's modern world.
The seed idea for While