News Item

Mecca claims prime meridian . .

With a huge clock-tower and declaration of 'perfect alignment with magnetic north', Mecca intends to oust Greenwich.

The supremacy of GMT is being challenged by a massive new clock in Mecca - and a well known Egyptian cleric believes that Mecca has a greater claim to being the prime meridian because it is 'in perfect alignment with the magnetic north'.

The world’s 1.5 billion Muslims could soon be setting their watches to the Mecca Clock, which started running on 12 August - the first day of Ramadan. It is set to Arabia Standard Time - 3 hours ahead of GMT.

The Royal Mecca Clock Tower will stand at almost 2,000 ft - the world's second-tallest building - when topped with a spire; the clock faces are 151 ft across. Big Ben, on the other hand, stands at 316 ft, with clock faces of 23 ft.

The Egyptian cleric's claim that Mecca has a greater claim to being the prime meridian because it is 'in perfect alignment with the magnetic north' and that the holy city is a 'zero magnetism zone' has won support from some Arab scientists - in particular one from the Egyptian National Research Centre, who says that there is no magnetic force in Mecca.

By way of comment . .

Nowadays, world time is based on Co-ordinated Universal Time (UTC) - based on atomic clocks but approximately the same as GMT.

Changing world time to the meridian running through Mecca - around 039º 50' E - would involve putting clocks back about 2 h 39 m.

The claim of 'perfect alignment with magnetic north' and 'zero magnetism' requires some explanation from the Arab sources . .

Variation (or 'declination') in Mecca is just over 3ºE and increasing easterly; in London it is about 1.6ºW and decreasing - it will be zero in 11 years or so.

And the strength of the magnetic field in Mecca is around 40,400 nanotesla (nT) with an 'inclination' (or 'angle of dip') of 30º; in London it is 48,600 nT with an inclination of 66º.

- News Editor

Original details from The Telegraph below.

But Islamic scholars hope the clock’s influence will stretch far further than the sands of Saudi Arabia, as part of a plan for Mecca to eclipse the Greenwich Observatory as the “true centre of the earth”.

For the past 125 years, the international community has accepted that the start of each day should be measured from the prime meridian, representing 0 degrees longitude, which passes through the Greenwich Observatory.

A standard time by which other clocks were set was needed to organise global travel and communications, but in the Islamic world the idea that it should be centred on a part of London is seen as a colonial anachronism.

As Mohammed al-Arkubi, manager of one of the hotels in the complex, put it: "Putting Mecca time in the face of Greenwich Mean Time. This is the goal."

Western scientists have challenged such assertions, noting that the Magnetic North Pole is in actual fact on a line of longitude that passes through Canada, the United States, Mexico and Antarctica.

  • 13 August 2010
  • Other

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