12 hour clock instead of a 24 hour clock.?

I have seen several explanations from simplistic to advanced mathematical as to why we might use a 12 your clock when a day is 24 hours. A closed question that Yahoo deemed to be answered was in my thinking only a description and not a reason. There must have been a superstitious or religious reason for dividing a day in half. There is no logic to any other explanation that I can find. Can anyone help me understand a reason for the clock we use?

2 Answers

  • 7 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Of course there was a reason to divide the day in half, and that is, half the day the sun is shinning and the other half it is dark.

    The initial time keeping had 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of dark in every day. The problem with that is the length of the hour changed with the season, for example, in the winter the day hours were short as they had to squeeze 12 of them into what we now consider about 8 hours.

    Eventually the hours were rationalized into equal sizes, but that lost the light/dark division. However, the AM/PM was retained for some reason, probably to minimize confusion.

    What I find amusing is complicated wrist watches that have the seconds, minutes, hours, date, day of week, phase of moon, but yet they neglect anyway of distinguishing AM from PM.

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  • 7 years ago

    I think the answer lies in the design of clockworks. The first watch (chronometer) was invented by John Harrison for the Royal navy in the 1800's so they could calculate longitudinal position. To build a 24 hour watch requires a great deal more precision than to build a 12 hour timepiece. However a 24 hour day was certainly known about at that time. Since the Royal navy was instrumental in bringing education and knowledge to much of the globe, the 12 hour day became more or less a standard way of building clocks and watches in the British Empire. This then spread throughout the entire world along with the English language.

    Source(s): John Harrison
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