It was on this date in 1972 that the first leap second was added to a day.
The modern definition of a “second” was settled in 1874 by European scientists working from Muslim scholars’ improvement on Ptolemy’s Second Century calculations. But in the early 1960s astronomers realized that the rotation of the earth is irregular -- fundamentally, it is slowing.
Coordinated Universal Time (CUT), calculated with an atomic clock, was systematically slowed each year, for a decade, to compensate. But that meant that CUT and UTC (the time standard used by broadcasters, transportation providers, and other commercial and military users, a standard still fixed on the original definition of the “second”) were diverging. To true them up, the leap second was added to the UTC.
Since 1972, a total of 25 seconds have been added -- that’s to say, the Earth has slowed down 25 seconds compared to atomic time since then.
But this does not mean that days are 25 seconds longer nowadays: only the days on which the leap seconds are inserted have 86,401 instead of the usual 86,400 seconds.
At 23:59:59 (UTC), time will “stop” as the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the US and other official timekeepers around the world add a second to our clocks. They last did this in 2012.
The Economist’s feature on time-poverty is an absolute must-read, explaining the multi-factorial nature of the modern time crunch, which combines the equivalence of time and money (leading to leisure hours that are as crammed as possible in order to maximize their value), the precarity of the American workplace (meaning that affluent workers work longer hours), […]
I was a midnight birth, born somewhere between 7/16/71 and 7/17/71 (the doctor let my mom choose my birthday). For New Years babies born around midnight, the choice is more momentous — a whole year’s difference! But what about New Years twin births? A woman in DC delivered her twins in two different years, three […]
If you’ve been blessed enough to avoid them yourself, you’ve definitely heard the horror stories. Late night, crushing out a ton of work, writing, coding, anything, then boom – your computer crashes. The battery blows, you spill water or coffee all over the place, or it just shuts down with no explanation, and you’re screwed. […]
You travel around a lot. It might be that jet set life from New York to LA to London to Tokyo, or it might be back and forth from the coffee shop to the office, or from the kitchen to the couch. Any which way, you’re mobile and that’s the way to live. When you […]
It’s 2016 and we like our technology really small. Our phones fit in our pockets, our remotes are lighter than ever, and even our cars seem to be shrinking. So your new drone shouldn’t be an exception. This Axis VIDIUS Drone is 21% off right now and it’s so little, your biggest problem won’t be […]