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Government Earth News

Daylight Saving Time Wastes Energy 550

Posted by kdawson
from the back-to-nature's-clock dept.
An anonymous reader writes "With the time approaching when we'll be changing our clocks again, the Wall Street Journal is running a timely article on a study done by a UC-Santa Barbara economics professor and a Ph.D. student. The study unambiguously concludes that Daylight Saving Time not only doesn't save any energy, it actually wastes energy and costs more. The study used energy company records from Indiana before and after that state mandated DST for all of its counties, and calculated that the switch cost Indiana citizens $8.6M per year. 'I've never had a paper with such a clear and unambiguous finding as this,' the professor said."
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Daylight Saving Time Wastes Energy

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  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:32AM (#22632620) Homepage Journal
    The story I've heard is that Daylight Saving Time legislation is driven by the companies that make charcoal barbecue briquettes. They don't care if your home uses more heat in the morning. They just want you to have a nice, long, bright evening in which you will have the desire to use their products.

    Bruce

    • Oh, I doubt it's something that mundane (aside the funniness).

      What is apparent to me as an Indiana citizen is that Mitch Daniels (our governor) wanted to do something to make himself look good. Many things, however, have strong pro or con sides in which the Democrats or Republicans will boo at.

      Instead, we had our governor make an assumption: the businesses in our state will make more money if we switch to DST. It's complete garbage, but as a politician, making non-changes like this while claiming everything
      • No, Really! (Score:5, Informative)

        by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:52AM (#22632742) Homepage Journal
        Look at how Kingsford crows about the earlier institution of DST in this press release [thecloroxcompany.com]. I bet they do serious lobbying on this issue.
    • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by edwardpickman (965122) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:55AM (#22632762)
      Programmers that have to adapt their code to take in account daylight savings time. They get more work out of the deal. Kind of the Y2K effect. I live in the one state with the sense to ignore it, Arizona. Perception is everything and if there's a perceived benefit it won't change. The real problem is you aren't changing the day length all you are doing is moving the extra daylight from the morning to evening. When I lived in a state with daylight savings I always found it annoying because one day I'm getting up after the sun is up then suddenly the next day I'm getting up and it's still dark. All it does is throw off body clocks and cost productivity until people adapt then in six months they go through the same mess. It's interesting that it actually costs power but there's little doubt it costs money and productivity so it's a pointless exercise.
      • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @03:41AM (#22633290) Homepage Journal

        Programmers that have to adapt their code to take in account daylight savings time.

        That's Arthur David Olsen for all Unix, Linux, BSD, Macintosh, and then the guy from Microsoft. It's gotta be only one guy at Microsoft, the way of handling this in Vista is so dumb.

        • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @03:48AM (#22633322) Homepage Journal
          Here's the Zoneinfo article in Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]. Impressive.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by marcosdumay (620877)

          "It's gotta be only one guy at Microsoft, the way of handling this in Vista is so dumb."

          It is hard for an individual to be dumber than a big team. It does happen sometimes, but not often.

      • by totally bogus dude (1040246) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @04:35AM (#22633492)

        Don't forget the sysadmins that have to implement the new code that tries to deal with DST!

        Exchange and SharePoint both seem to have huge issues with daylight savings. I think Microsoft must have gone out of their way to ensure they have as many different places to store timezone information as they could find. You need an update for Windows to get the new definitions; that's cool. Then you need an update for Exchange. Then there's another update for MAPI. I think there were a few more than this as well, but (fortunately) I'm not our Exchange admin. I can't believe how much of a mess it all was, though.

        Then there's the brand spankin' new SharePoint 2007, which sits around scratching its balls for an hour during DST because the part that schedules jobs to run and the part that starts them running at the scheduled clearly have different ideas about timezones. What a joke. Why does any of this even HAVE its own timezone database, and not just use the system one? It boggles the mind. Even now after their hotfixes to resolve this issue, the jobs still say they're scheduled to run at some point in the future. But hey, under the hood it works properly, so I can deal with the UI telling lies.

        Wandering even further off-topic, the human-readable part of meeting requests sent by Outlook uses the wrong timezone. Here's one I just sent myself to schedule a meeting at 6.30pm:

        When: Tuesday, 4 March 2008 6:30 PM-7:00 PM (GMT+08:00) Perth.

        Very nice, really - it tells you the exact offset from GMT so there's no question about when exactly this meeting is. Unfortunately, +0800 is our usual non-DST timezone. During DST (which we're in now until the end of March) it's +0900. Apparently the GMT+08:00 is just part of the timezone name, but it's confusing as hell to anyone who receives these messages. This is particularly problematic if you're scheduling conference calls and the like with people in other states (or countries) who can't reasonably be expected to know about WA's DST trial.

        I would've thought a problem like that would have been noticed and fixed a long time ago, given that most of the USA do have DST.

    • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Bios_Hakr (68586) <xptical AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:23AM (#22632906) Homepage
      DST seems like a pain. However, after I moved to Japan, I realized how nice it actually is. The sun coming up at 4am is not a cool thing. Makes sleeping in virtually impossible.

      So, you can change the clocks, or change your schedule. Having DST ensures that everyone changes together.
      • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:5, Informative)

        by belmolis (702863) <billposer AT alum DOT mit DOT edu> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:35AM (#22632956) Homepage

        Uh, there are such things as curtains and shutters.

        The Japanese didn't see the benefit of DST. The US imposed it during the Occupation. The first thing the Japanese government did when it regained control was get rid of it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Heian-794 (834234)

          Japan did indeed see DST as something not worth doing, but even before that comes the problem of what time zone Japan actually lies in.

          Look at a time zone map [metoffice.gov.uk] and you'll see most zones leaning over to the west as people try to get a little more sunlight in the evening. France and Spain are particularly noticeable. Japan, on the other hand, leans to the east. Japan's time is the same as Korea's, despite lying well east of that country, and Vladivostok lies west of Japan, yet is an hour ahead! Why did J

      • by patio11 (857072) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:53AM (#22633044)
        If you go to one of the local 100-yen stores, you can find this nice little blindfold thingee. With one of those you can sleep in until 3 PM if you want to. I have two -- one is the standard elastic-headband contraption and the other is just a black anime-esque cat which sits on your face all night. More for the novelty value than anything.

        Now, while the USD has been falling against the yen recently, I'm going to wager that 100 yen is still less than $8.6 million.
      • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by SnowZero (92219) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @03:31AM (#22633242)
        It's not just DST; Much of the population of Japan is at the extreme east of the longitudinal time zone. Many areas of the US lag the true zones, and you just get too accustomed to what "early" is. The solution is simple; get up earlier. That's what I did when I was working in Tokyo. Unless you work at one of the more insane places, if you get to work early enough then you can leave right at 5 without anyone complaining. If that's not possible, try to make the morning your free time. Mind you this is coming from someone who is no morning person at all; The simple truth is that you have to adapt to the local circumstances. Besides, if you live in a city there's likely a 4:30am train that will wake you up anyway even if it is dark (damn Gotanda line).

        DST is not a panacea, and is more trouble than it is worth IMO, especially when politicians start changing it for no good reason. I think we should just stick to the "early" schedule, and live with the idea that you need to get up when it is still dark in the winter. After all, you have to come home in the dark during the winter anyway, so there isn't much of a difference. The "schoolchildren excuse" doesn't really apply anymore either since few kids walk to school nowadays, and if it is really that big of a problem the school could use a later schedule for young children or alter it for part of the year.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by DudeTheMath (522264)
          Indiana, which was the subject of the study, lags quite a bit. The eastern edge of the state (Fort Wayne) is about 85 degrees west longitude, 10 degrees west of the notional center of "GMT+5" (360 / 24 = 15; 5 * 15 = 75). So the eastern edge of the state is already ten minutes into the notional "GMT+6", and the western edge (Vincennes, Terre Haute; Gary is on Chicago time anyway) is about 87.5, a full twenty minutes into GMT+6. So the particular money-wasters mentioned in TFA, heating in the morning (from
      • Re:Who Benefits? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by kklein (900361) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @03:47AM (#22633320)
        I actually think that the whole Japanese time zone is wrong. The sun is up for 4 hours before anyone leaves the house, and you're still going home in the dark. It's a total waste of daylight, but it isn't a DST problem so much as it is one of the timezone being totally screwed up.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ultranova (717540)

        DST seems like a pain. However, after I moved to Japan, I realized how nice it actually is. The sun coming up at 4am is not a cool thing. Makes sleeping in virtually impossible.

        Ever heard of curtains ?

        Besides, here in Finland, you go to work before sunrise and home after sunset. Not that the Sun is usually visible during daytime, either. Now that global warming has taken snow from the ground, this place makes Hades seem like a carnival.

        So don't complain that Sun rises before you do where you live.

    • by IdahoEv (195056)
      You snark, but I've heard fairly serious accusations that DST is primarily driven by the golf-and-country-club lobby, which wants more months in which wealthy businessmen have light in the evenings after they get off work.

      The results of this study are entirely unsurprising. DST saved energy when lighting was the primary use for electrical power in the home. More light in the evening, fewer lights on. But since the 1970's or so, air conditioning has come to consume far more energy in the summer than light
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by harrumph (178433)
      The oil companies benefit. This was known before the new rules went into effect in the United States.

      When it's light later in the evenings, people drive more.

      People use cars in the mornings to get to work, and that doesn't change with lack of daylight.

      While the new rules expanding daylight saving time had been promoted as environmentally beneficial, the promoters only claimed it was to reduce home energy consumption (as electricity and heating fuel). The new rules were expected to increase total energy

  • by Xenographic (557057) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:33AM (#22632624) Homepage Journal
    Skip DST entirely. No clock changes at all. You want more daylight? Get up earlier. Need more time to work? Work summer hours.

    It's MUCH easier than having to change your clocks all the time. And it seems that it's much less wasteful, too.
    • by Baricom (763970) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:40AM (#22632666)

      And it seems that it's much less wasteful, too.
      Very true. In fact, I wonder what the actual U.S. labor cost of changing clocks for DST would come out to. Even if you say it takes 10 seconds to reset each clock, that adds up over millions of people.
      • The one I want to know is how much energy it takes all of the people across the country to separate out and otherwise deal with recycling. Sure, it's just a few seconds here and there, but added up, that's probably a significant number of Joules of energy being used.

        And then to convert that amount of energy into the number of barrels of oil it represents. I don't think most people have ever considered the equation of how much oil we are spending to enable us to use less oil. (only talking plastic, of course - aluminum is a pretty clear case of a win for recycling)

        There's probably other things, too, that we just take for granted as they are such small impacts on our time (energy), yet add up to significant amounts in aggregate.
        • by Bios_Hakr (68586) <xptical AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:20AM (#22632880) Homepage
          Bullshit! did a show on recycling. More or less, the only recycling that matters is aluminum. All other recycling *only* works if subsides are in-place.

          Most plastics can't be recycled. Type 1, 2, and 3 are *recyclable* but type 1 is the only one commonly recycled.

          Most paper will degrade anyway. A lot of landfills can use this degradation to power equipment and produce electricity.
        • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:55AM (#22633068) Homepage Journal
          Glass is a win, too. Lasts forever in a landfill, but makes great house insulation if you recycle it. Given that sand mining in California is now from underwater, that's got to be a win. Paper and used cartons get bought, so I'd be surprised if they weren't a win too. Out here in Berkeley there's a biowaste can for yard and food waste, and they compost it en masse, with proper temperature and agitation, not like most backyard compost. The city doesn't buy fertilizer, and they get enough extra to hand out sacks of beautiful carbon and nitrogen rich black soil to the residents. Plants shoot up on that stuff. There is a commercial styrofoam recycling plant in Oakland.

          So, what's left is plastic.

        • by amRadioHed (463061) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:59AM (#22633084)

          There's probably other things, too, that we just take for granted as they are such small impacts on our time (energy), yet add up to significant amounts in aggregate.
          I guess that depends on how you define significance. Someone a little down thread figured that the US wasts about 95 man years changing clocks for DST every year. Ok, that sounds like a lot but only if you pretend it isn't an aggregate of millions of peoples time. Any insignificant amount multiplied enough will come out to a significant amount but that doesn't make it significant. I just tried to imagine something that American's spend less time doing than changing their clocks and I drew a blank.
      • by otomo_1001 (22925)
        Note: cb is a function to echo "$*" | bc -lq, with that out of the way...

        $ cb "((((10*300000000)/60)/60)/24)/365"
        95.12937595129375951293

        So by your estimate of 10 seconds per clock, about 95 years worth of people time is wasted each year. Unless I made a mistake in my quick typing. Depressing isn't it? :)

        My vote: Just suck it up and use utc. Who cares that you get up at 12 or 17 o'clock?
      • by Nullav (1053766)
        Even if it were ten seconds for everyone on the planet, it wouldn't amount to much. People just don't work that well in parallel, it would probably be spent typing a few lines, staring at a TV, or entertaining an idle thought. If you want to get into labor costs, I'd be much more interested in the losses due to drowsy, inattentive, and 'sick' workers in the day or two after the switch.
      • by afidel (530433)
        Eh it was the recent changes that caused a crudload of work for me and even now it's still making work because any server that's rebuilt without the patch will have the wrong time. Add to that the fact that older versions of java don't have the DST patch built in and it adds up to a lot of things that need to be checked before each change. Sure at this point it's just a matter of firing off a few batch files and checking the results but it's still like 30 minutes of work twice a year and it was probably 20
    • by ortcutt (711694)
      How is that going to help me get in a softball game before dark on a summer night? Are you suggesting that everyone try to coordinate to get everyone else to convince their bosses to let them come an hour earlier and leave an hour earlier from work? That's a huge coordination problem. Changing the clocks by comparison is dead simple. That's the brilliance of DST, the realization that local time is simply a convention and that it's simpler to change the convention twice a year than it is to try to get ev
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by arivanov (12034)
      While your argument is correct, logical and makes sense it is not applicable in most places around the world. At least here the Trade Unions have managed to have the working hours for retail premises legislated. Similar legislation exists for premises selling alcohol, pubs, cafes, etc around the world. Politicians have been busy and it sometimes it is really easier to move the clock and get over with it rather than get two fat volumes of century old legislation off the books.
    • by alshithead (981606) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:30AM (#22632928)
      "Skip DST entirely. No clock changes at all."

      Yeah, let's do away with all of this time zone crap too. I think the folks on the other side of the world from me can all go third shift.
    • by MoogMan (442253) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:30AM (#22632932)
      And while you're there, use UTC. There is no sense in using timezones, it just causes pain and suffering for people that talk to others in many different countries.
      • by SixArmedJesus (513025) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @04:56AM (#22633548) Homepage
        I agree. Not only that, but also get rid of AM/PM and just go to a 24 Hour clock. In all seriousness, it would get rid of ambiguity when referring to time in any medium. It would take some adjusting for people to get the hang of the sun rising at 13:30 where they live, or working from 18:00 to to 2:00. But when you want to call your relatives that live on the other side of the country (assuming your country spans multiple current time zones) it will be easy to say, "Hey, I'll call you tomorrow at 11:00," and there will be no question of "your time or my time?"

        No DST.
        No Timezones.
        No AM/PM.
        • by Asic Eng (193332) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @07:38AM (#22634270)
          Won't that just replace the problem with "what time do you guys start work over there?" If I call a colleague in Australia or India now, and they till me it's "11am here" I at least know what that means in relation to their normal daily routine.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          One of the nice things about time zones is that it preserves the experience of time across locations. For example, "morning" means a time, usually around 6 am, and it is a concept that is easy to translate. Morning means morning no matter where you are, excepting very northern and southern latitudes.

          Your system would work fine for internal time systems, but humans I think need that common ground for communication. Instead of saying, "an earthquake struck the Azores at 1300, which was 2 hours after sunrise,"
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Phroggy (441)

      Skip DST entirely. No clock changes at all. You want more daylight? Get up earlier. Need more time to work? Work summer hours.

      It's MUCH easier than having to change your clocks all the time. And it seems that it's much less wasteful, too.

      Because somewhere, somebody is making money on this, and they would stand to lose quite a bit if we all adopted Arizona's model. The question is, who is that somebody? Bruce Perens above said it's the charcoal briquette manufacturers; I've heard it's WalMart and other retailers (selling charcoal briquettes, but also other picnic/outdoor/camping gear). It's pretty obvious that the official reason (saving energy, which is why the DST change was attached to an energy bill) is a load of crap.

      I wouldn't be s

  • by istartedi (132515) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:34AM (#22632632) Journal

    I mean, after all, you're not going to get hypothermia. Most of you will be miserable of course, and the cost of that is rather difficult to calculate. I don't know about the rest of you out there in Slash-land, but my co-workers and I have been looking forward to coming home after work and having an extra hour of daylight. It's priceless. So. Put that in your penny-pinching pipe and smoke it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:34AM (#22632634)
    From TFA:
    "One study of the situation in Indiana cannot accurately asses the impact of [daylight-saving time] changes across the nation, especially when it does not include more northern, colder regions," the congressman (Mr. Markey) notes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dkleinsc (563838)
      Indiana isn't exactly balmy or southern, suggesting that Mr Markey is talking without any clue as to US geography (or is making excuses). The southern tip is at roughly the same latitude as D.C., and the northern end is right near Chicago.
  • Who's shocked? (Score:3, Informative)

    by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy.tpno-co@org> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:34AM (#22632638) Homepage
    I've had my suspicions for a while, but honestly, who's shocked? This world is run on money. If you see a politician pushing something, just follow the money trail and you'll find their backers.

    Puts a whole new spin on our candidates, don't it? Look at their "platforms", then look at their voting history. The patterns are usually blatantly obvious for any who so chose to look. It's then the job of the candidates ( and their parties ) to bullshit us into believing we aren't seeing what we're seeing. It's all smoke and mirrors.

    Don't look behind the curtain, folks, just punch the ticket and elect the next nutjob into office.
  • by pembo13 (770295) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:35AM (#22632644) Homepage
    As someone from the Caribbean now in the Midwest (of the USA), it makes no sense to me in everyday life and is purely annoying. In areas where the sunset/sunrise times are that much affected, is it not possible to have individuals/businesses allow for the change?
  • by ortcutt (711694) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:37AM (#22632650)
    DST would be worth it even if it wasted energy. Morning hours of daylight are useless to me considering that I am either at work or on the way to work. I can actually use after-work hours of daylight to do something enjoyable. That's the original rationale for DST and it still applies. DST should be extended year-round.
  • by Sneftel (15416) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:37AM (#22632654)
    The conclusions seem reasonable, but I'm disturbed that the researchers didn't consider the potential impact of overall hotter summers. Did neighboring states have relatively flat energy usage over the same period?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I could simply say RTFA, but I'll also mention that they used the data from other illinois counties that used DST before and after as a control... funny how researchers think of these silly details before it reaches slashdot...
  • by Marbleless (640965) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:41AM (#22632678)
    ... both of which would use more energy I would have thought.

    Show me the figures with those items adjusted for and there may be something worth a story.
  • I actually like being able to come home from work, and there's still plenty of light left in the sky. Otherwise, almost all I'd experience of my house is when it's shrouded in darkness. Except for those weekends when the light doth shine through the darkness.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by compro01 (777531)
      how about you follow our (Saskatchewan's) example and have DST year-round? We've been on DST full-time since 1966.
  • by PhantomHarlock (189617) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:47AM (#22632710)
    I think it should be permanently 'sprung forward' so we get more light in the evening. Otherwise useless to us non-morning people. Bah! (image of Catbert holding rolled up newspaper)
  • ...Still, the Transportation Department study stuck. Speaking before the House of Representatives in 2002, Indiana Rep. Julia Carson said that under daylight-saving time, Indiana families would save "over $7 million annually in electricity rates alone...

    then a study by University of California-Santa Barbara economics professor Matthew Kotchen and Ph.D. student Laura Grant

    ...Using more than seven million monthly meter readings from Duke Energy Corp., covering nearly all the households in southern I
  • Adjust business hours periodically. Don't change the freakin' clock and have an hour go missing every 6 months. It didn't even make sense when we were still hand plowing. It certainly doesn't now!!!
  • by fredmosby (545378) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @01:55AM (#22632756)
    Usually by the time I get off work it's almost dark outside. It really sucks to be looking out the office window seeing what I nice day it is and not be able to go outside. Business hours should be from noon to 8:00. They way I could get up and go enjoy some of the daylight hours even though it's a work day.
  • by swm (171547) <swmcd@world.std.com> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:08AM (#22632826) Homepage
    I wrote this to my congressional representatives last fall:

    Dear Sir:

    Daylight savings time hits hard this time of year.

    It was cold and dark when I got up this morning, so the
    first thing I did was was turn up the heat and turn on the
    lights. That's going to jack up my energy bill for the
    month.

    Then I drove my son to school. He missed his bus all five
    days this week. That's going to jack up my fuel bill for the
    month.

    Then I dragged myself through another day at work. I don't
    function well when I have to get up before dawn.

    The people in my family are all diurnal (dI-UR-nal). It
    means we sleep when it's dark and wake when it's light. The
    problem is that in northern latitudes (like Massachusetts)
    the sun rises later in the winter than in the summer.

    To compensate for this, we have a scheme called Daylight
    Savings Time. Daylight savings shifts our school and work
    schedules forward in the summer and back in the winter, to
    keep them roughly in sync with the sun. It used to work
    pretty well, but congress broke it a couple of years ago:
    now it goes too long in the fall and starts too early in the
    spring.

    Most of the damage that congress does affects me at some
    remove, but this--this comes right out of my hide. When I'm
    stumbling around in the dark for three weeks next spring,
    I'll be thinking of you.

    Sincerely, ...
  • seriously, here in WA the cows won't know what time it is, hence we shouldn't have daylight saving!
  • by Tekoneiric (590239) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @05:19AM (#22633628) Journal
    Why not just split the difference and adjust year around time to the half way point between standard time and daylight savings; no more switching.
  • by Spikeles (972972) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @06:00AM (#22633780)
    I wonder if they read a similar paper from a year ago?

    RYAN M. KELLOGG and Hendrik Wolff, "Does Extending Daylight Saving Time Save Energy? Evidence from an Australian Experiment" (February 14, 2007). Center for the Study of Energy Markets. Paper CSEMWP-163.
    http://repositories.cdlib.org/ucei/csem/CSEMWP-163 [cdlib.org]

    Maybe there should be some kind of central place we could all use to search for papers that have some bearing our subject matter?

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