Wilton editorial: Time travel

Time is always of the essence, but it has been especially significant last week and this week here in Wilton.

Two events at opposite ends of 300 years of history are deserving of our attention.

Let’s go back first to all of Wilton’s fifth graders visiting the Wilton Historical Society last week to get a sense of how children their age would have lived during Colonial times. It was an eye-opening experience for many of them who got a better understanding of how people had to make their own cloth, cook over a hearth, and buy things without credit cards. They also learned a lot about the people who were here first — the American Indians. They may have been considered a primitive society, but one youngster discovered they were anything but as he blurted out after learning they used fringe on their moccasins to erase their footsteps, “that was so smart!”

History is one of the most important things we can teach our youngsters. As the saying goes, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Without it, we don’t understand where we came from and knowing it helps us understand where we are going. Studying our past helps us understand why people acted the way they did and how we might act under similar circumstances.

Fast forward to the 21st century and just as the Industrial Revolution transformed life in the later 1800s, the technological revolution has changed the last several decades for us. And that brings us to Singularity Technology, Wilton Library’s robotics team that is the number one student robotics team in Connecticut and will represent us in the world championships next month in Detroit.

From cooking over an open fire to two smartphones “talking” to one another to propel a robot — what would an 18th-century teenager think? Seeing the robot in action, it’s amazing to those of us who are not technologically inclined that inputting lines of seemingly impenetrable code into a computer that somehow makes its way to the smartphones and an Xbox controller sends the colorful little creature on its way sucking up plastic blocks.

The students who make up Singularity Technology — three of whom have been steadfastly with the team for five years — deserve heaps of praise for such an outstanding performance at the state competition and best of luck when they go to Detroit.

Lastly, we change our clocks on Sunday morning, jumping ahead one hour. It’s daylight saving (no “s”) time we are moving to, making our evenings considerably brighter than the dank, dark days of Eastern standard time in December and January.

The original idea for this phenomenon is often credited to Benjamin Franklin, who, as an American delegate in Paris in 1784, published an essay titled “An Economical Project,” in which he made the simple argument that natural light is cheaper than artificial light.

However, it wasn’t until World War I that the United States enacted daylight saving time to save fuel for the war effort. Since more people are active late in the day than early in the morning, extending natural light in the evening reduces the need for artificial light and the energy required to produce it. The fossil fuels that generate most of our electricity are not an endless resource. Nor is the atmosphere, which burnt fuel continues to befoul. So adding nature’s light to conserve energy and cut the poisons we breathe seems worth the semiannual annoyance of time changes.

It’s an idea that’s been argued for years but there is one thing we can agree on.

Take the time on Sunday to change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Fire officials recommend doing this every six months.

Change the batteries when you turn those clocks forward, and rest easy until next fall.