Enjoy your extra sleep-in on July 1st. Yes that’s right. One whole second will be added miraculously through the night, for that extra bit of shut-eye. A leap second!
Jack, a fan of a sleep-in can’t wait.
The whole point of it is to keep up with solar time. We dud, slow coach Earthlings have needed to add twenty five seconds since 1972, just to keep up with the sun. So, one second, twenty five seconds in 4.54 billion years of earth life – in the scheme of things who cares?
Well apparently there are those who do care. In the UK the grandly titled National Office of Measurement created a forum whereby learned types involved in diverse fields including astronomy, maritime, nature, the arts and banking(?!) as well as the public, were invited to contribute their thoughts on continuing the practice of adding the ‘leap second.’ An eighty four page document detailed the whys and wherefores of this proposition. (It’s dead set true I tell you! If only they spent that much time and energy fostering world peace, or solving world poverty, or how to get pet hair off your black coat. Arghhhh…Jack!)
Let’s face it, people have been tinkering with time forever. (And when I say forever, to be pedantic, I don’t mean forever.) There was the Julian calendar; everybody thought was set in stone until 1582 when some wise guy said to Pope Gregory, “Listen sunshine, the sunshine is out of sync with our holy time of the year, and that be Easter.” A new method for applying leap years was concocted, involving years divisible by 4.2325321341 and adding a fifth of a day (actually that’s not true, I’m making that up just to make a point.)A day is added every leap year, but the years 1700, 1800 and 1900 for instance are not leap years, however 2000 is because it is divisible by four hundred.
The question though is; what is time? Like money, it seems to be something we just don’t have enough of. But unlike having pots and pots and pots of money (which couldn’t hurt us in the least, could it?) time may have a nasty sting in its chronometric tail. If we had more, would it just make us older? It only goes in one direction and, like a vote made by a bogun at an election – regrettably it has to be counted.
We strange humans like to shackle ourselves to time, and we do this by using atomic clocks. Atomic clocks are more accurate than your boss’s Cartier and use an element called caesium. One second equals 9,192,631,770 motions of caesium-133. Gee that baby can move.
Albert Einstein screwed with everyone’s head with his theory that time slowed down in space if you were going really, really fast, or if you recklessly ventured to the edge of a black hole. (No, I don’t mean Andrew Bolt’s mouth.)
Another instance of when time slows to excruciating extents – that Einstein totally overlooked – is when you squat on the edge of a barstool in a seaside pub, nervously quaffing Pimm’s while watching the last ten minutes of a Melbourne versus Geelong game, wracked with fear and loathing of a Geelong comeback. That’s like hovering on the brink a black hole I tell ya!
So, as Einstein’s irreverent theory deforms time as we know it, stretching it like a Dali clock, the UK Keeper of Clocks will be at it again, adding a bit here and bit there. In a billion years people will probably thank us.
Jack neither knows nor cares about an extra second, but he is obsessed with my watch. He licks it voraciously and I think he would like to eat it. If that happened, it would make me timeless and Jack time consuming. And we could come off second best. Savour your second.