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An island that shuns clocks? It won’t stand the test of time

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Philosophers and physicists have long debated the reality of time. But it has taken the people of the Norwegian island of Sommarøy (population: 350) to reach a final verdict. They have sided with Douglas Adams, who declared “Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.” They want to declare their island a time-free zone.

By coincidence, the story broke when I was in Skjolden, Norway, where the solstice sun set at 11.15pm and it never got fully dark. I’m now en route to Kiruna, within the Arctic Circle, where, like Sommarøy, the midnight sun can be seen from May to July.

The absence of a proper dawn and dusk shifts your perception of time. I’m used to the move from light to dark to light punctuating the day and setting its reference points. The level of light tells you whether it’s too early to have dinner, go to bed or get up. Without these signals I am more inclined to eat and sleep when I feel like it.

Days and seasons have their natural rhythms, which may be slower and gentler near the poles but are never completely absent. The desire to erase them seems like a wishful overreaction to the strict timekeeping of modern life and the discipline that follows from it.

For all its drawbacks, precise timing has been........

© The Guardian