But When Is It?

I was using my favourite aircraft tracking site 360Radar when I noticed that they have built in the terminator into the view:


In this picture you can see the lines of the terminator, the line of the end of sunlight across the globe. But, it’s more complicated than that isn’t it? There are two lines and I suspect that one is the onset of sunset and the other is when the sun has dropped below the horizon. Rather, what happens is that the Earth rotates more so the Sun drops below the local horizon.

That gets you to thinking about sunset and when it is. According to Wikipedia, which is a perfectly good reference for most things scientific, sunset is the moment the sun dips below the horizon. After that there are different types of twilight!:

Twilight subcategories.svg
By TWCarlsonOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

I hope this doesn’t over complicate issues too much for you all.

One of the things that humans like to do is have simple black and white answers for all problems. We can’t live in a society without rules. We need them to ensure we give everyone a similar set of values and guidelines. We use heuristics all the time. These are brain shortcuts so we don’t have to think about things from the very start. Stereotyping is an heuristic. It allows us to make quick judgements about people so that we don’t have to think too much. The problem is that stereotyping is wrong most of the time and our brain is wrong. Heuristics while brain efficient are mostly wrong.

The question “when is twilight” leads to a multitude of different types and times. Most things in society aren’t really black and white. There are always complications. There are always times when other factors seem important. We love these rules but often they need to be tempered by knowing the circumstances. The media like forcing that black or white notion, they like to implement simple thinking in society to make everything simple. Most people don’t want to think about things or over complicate them. Most people want a simple life where they don’t have to think or consider others.

It’s good to learn that we should always spend extra brain power thinking about the issues are reasons more. As the author Ben Goldacre put it:

I think you’ll find it’s more complicated than that.