SCOTLAND’S oldest university has boldly claimed to have invented time.
St Andrews says a Scottish astronomer was almost 200 years ahead of Greenwich, London, in establishing the Prime Meridian.
The north-south “line” on the earth establishes time zones around the world.
The St Andrews line was drawn in 1673, according to the university.
The Scottish meridian is three degrees west of the London line, meaning the day would start 12 minutes later.
According to experts, scientific pioneer James Gregory drew his line across the floor of his lab at St Andrews, which was established in 1413.
GMT was not established until 1851, by Sir George Airy.
Dr John Amson, a Senior Lecturer at St Andrews said: “The world could today be running on STAMT (St Andrews Mean Time) and not GMT.”
“The westward shift of about three degrees of longitude between St Andrews and Greenwich represents a difference of about 12 minutes.
“So the Sun rises over St Andrews after it has done so over London.
“But then it is that much more a mature Sun.”
The path of the St Andrews Meridian is determined by a wooden line Gregory had set into the floor of the King James Library to delineate the meridian.
He used this line in conjunction with a metal sight fixed outside one of the windows, which he lined up with a post on the horizon exactly due south, to make astronomical observations.
The discovery means that pubs and polling stations have been closing much earlier than they should.
Traffic wardens may have been too hasty issuing tickets and referees have been blowing for full-time long before the fat lady sings.
Tourists and townspeople in St Andrews can now stand with one foot in each hemisphere – and set their watches to STAMT.
In tribute to the discovery, St Andrews has recognised Gregory’s remarkable body of work with a permanent public memorial.
A solid brass line which follows exactly the line of his meridian and bisects the pavement in South Street, St Andrews.
Gregory was appointed the first Regius Professor of Mathematics in 1668 at the age of 30 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society the same year.
This Scottish mathematician, astronomer and inventor was also one of the three founders of calculus.
Along with inventing the Gregorian Telescope and he is the man who discovered the principles of diffraction gratings.