This has been a hard book to do snippets late in the book. It gives too much away.
“Gordon, I have Custom Tailored Genes on the screen and the man is offering me an appointment for nine in the morning, day after tomorrow. Would you go with me?” Lee asked.
“They on the same clock as here?” Gordon asked.
“Yeah, I asked and he told me they’ve been on the same clock as the moon almost since their independence. He called it Zulu time,” Lee said. “Damned if I know why.”
“That’s why we buy web updates,” Gordon reminded her.
“Yeah, yeah, I know. I’ll look it up but he’s waiting. Want to go with me?” Lee repeated.
“Sure, what else am I going to do that would be half as much fun?” Gordon said gravely.
“Yes, I’m confirming that appointment,” Lee spoke at the com and ended the call. She stayed there however. If she didn’t look up Zulu time Gordon would bug her to death.
“You can never learn just one thing,” Lee said much later.
“You said that like it’s a bad thing,” Gordon accused.
“Once in awhile a simple answer would be nice. How am I going to remember everything if I live hundreds of years? We’ll all go crazy. No wonder April worried about it.”
Gordon looked tempted to speak, and then looked away. He was being polite today.
“I know, you have to assume we aren’t already crazy for that to happen,” Lee said, before he could.
“You’re having this conversation fine without me now,” Gordon observed.
“Here’s the deal. Zulu time is the same as Greenwich Mean Time, which is the time at the observatory in England where they established the zero meridian for Earth,” Lee said.
“They got all the Earthies to agree on something like that? I’m amazed.” Gordon said.
“Not at first,” Lee agreed. “But this was at just the right time when sailing ships needed such a standard for navigation, and about the time they had clocks good enough to help navigate. But England was apparently a very big deal right then, and had the biggest navy. I guessing here, but I bet they made a lot of the charts too.
“But the Zulu time is from zero, since it’s the zero meridian. But I tell you… nobody ever does things the easy way and just says zero time. It seems they used something called an acrophonic alphabet when radio was new. If it was all scratchy and garbled you’d spell out the message letter by letter with an agreed upon set of easily recognized words. So Zero Time became Zulu time. Doesn’t seem like much of an improvement to me, but it was faithful to the system.”
Gordon looked up scowling. “They have better radios now. They have satellite relays and fiber optics and digital processing. Why wouldn’t they drop the acrophonic stuff?”
“I suspect they think it sounds suave and military,” Lee said.
Gordon nodded. “They’d probably say it’s cool. I read that phrase has come back for the fifth time recently. Slang is like that. It recycles.”