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Why Standards Matter

The prime meridian and Greenwich Mean Time are standards that allow us to determine our position on Earth with pinpoint accuracy (Figure 29.1). These standards can be applied anywhere at any time by anybody; they are universally accessible and understood because everybody has agreed to do it that way. They allow ships to ply the seven seas without bumping into land (usually) and airplanes to fly in friendly skies without bumping into each other. And they have opened the world to travel not necessarily because they are a superior way of doing things, but simply because everyone has agreed to do things the same way. Sounds like a pretty good idea, doesn't it?

Figure 29.1. The Royal Observatory Greenwich Web site (http://www.rog.nmm.ac.uk).



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