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.
Dan Kopf’s Who Americans spend their time with is a chart—six of them—that show the number of hours a day people spend with n over the course of their lives. Together they tell a story. The sixth is a gut-punch. But not, perhaps, if you’re introverted.
Network Time Protocol is how the computers you depend on know what time it is (this is critical to network operations, cryptography, and many other critical functions); NTP software was, until recently, stored in a proprietary format on a computer that no one had the password for (and which had not been updated in a […]
Synesthesia is the fascinating neurological phenomenon whereby stimulation of one sense involuntarily triggers another sensory pathway. A synesthete might taste sounds or hear colors. Now, leading synesthesia researcher VS Rakmachandran at the University of California, San Diego is studying “calendar synesthetes” who see very clear images of calendars in their mind’s eye when they think […]
Toaster ovens are the perfect appliance for small things like toasted sandwiches and roasted garlic (try it!), but anything more involved usually requires a full-sized conventional oven.However, despite its small size, the Wolfgang Puck Pressure Oven can handle anything from baked pastries to broiled meats. This kitchen appliance has a minimal countertop footprint, and cooks […]
The Pry.Me Bottle Opener holds tens of thousands of times its own weight, and you can pick one up now from the Boing Boing Store.This remarkable keychain is considerably smaller than any of your keys, but don’t let that fool you: it can easily open any bottle, and could even tow a trailer full of […]