Time Is Running Out for the Leap Second


To the world’s timekeepers, the leap second is a kludge, a bane, a pain in the little hand. Now they’re proposing to ditch it. Will our days ever be the same?

https://nyti.ms/3TBRwhn

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Hey man, some of us can't get behind the NYTimes paywall.  What the hell is a leap second???

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HotWatchChick69

Hey man, some of us can't get behind the NYTimes paywall.  What the hell is a leap second???

The rotation & revolution of the Earth isn't completely constant. 

Sometimes the Earth revolves around the Sun and rotates slower; sometimes it revolves and rotates faster. Therefore astronomers occasionally have to add, or sometimes subtract, a second to/from the day to keep everything on time, so to speak. 

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UnholiestJedi

The rotation & revolution of the Earth isn't completely constant. 

Sometimes the Earth revolves around the Sun and rotates slower; sometimes it revolves and rotates faster. Therefore astronomers occasionally have to add, or sometimes subtract, a second to/from the day to keep everything on time, so to speak. 

Wha???  This is some real black magic, man!  

What is this talk of the earth revolving around the sun???

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eff ewe, en why tee!

https://web.archive.org/web/20221115125647/https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/14/science/time-leap-second.html

For the record, I favor natural time over man-made. Also, don't give me this hooey about techno-trouble when we're still stuck with the odious daylight saving time nuisance.

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HotWatchChick69

Hey man, some of us can't get behind the NYTimes paywall.  What the hell is a leap second???

Sorry! Looks like Oscar found a reachable copy. 

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OscarKlosoff

eff ewe, en why tee!

https://web.archive.org/web/20221115125647/https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/14/science/time-leap-second.html

For the record, I favor natural time over man-made. Also, don't give me this hooey about techno-trouble when we're still stuck with the odious daylight saving time nuisance.

What does that even mean? What's "natural time?" There's nothing more natural than the oscillation of cesium atoms. Time as defined by the passage of the sun is not any more "natural." And every unit of time is man made. As is every second your watch ticks.

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wilfried

What does that even mean? What's "natural time?" There's nothing more natural than the oscillation of cesium atoms. Time as defined by the passage of the sun is not any more "natural." And every unit of time is man made. As is every second your watch ticks.

Do you think that the natural events that the overwhelming majority of mankind for the majority of history cared about had more to do with the position of the planet or some atomic oscillation?

If you define a day or a year in terms of atomic motion, you are clearly adhering more to a man-made convention than to nature. 

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What, the day isn't exactly 86400 seconds long when defined by the earth's revolution? The end is near! 😱

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OscarKlosoff

Do you think that the natural events that the overwhelming majority of mankind for the majority of history cared about had more to do with the position of the planet or some atomic oscillation?

If you define a day or a year in terms of atomic motion, you are clearly adhering more to a man-made convention than to nature. 

The solar calendar year and how it's defined is a human invention. First there was the Julian calendar. Pope Gregory decided it wasn't good enough, so "corrected" it, subtracting 10 days. This led to riots, and it took centuries before most of the world accepted it. And not everyone did; to this day there are still Eastern Orthodox Christians who still adhere to the Julian calendar. The Gregorian is also imperfect, and centuries down the line people will have to decide if it needs correcting too. 

The Muslim calendar runs on a strict lunar cycle, and doesn't bother to correct for the sun. That means the Muslim year is 10 or 11 days shorter than the solar year, depending, and circulates all the way around the Gregorian calendar over 30 something years. Ramadan can be in the middle of summer or the middle of winter (it must be hard in the summer when you can't drink and it's frigging hot). Furthermore, the month doesn't officially begin until someone actually sees the new moon, so you don't know exactly when it starts until it happens, or whether it will have 29 or 30 days. They don't follow the sun at all, and is their method of counting days and months more or less "natural?" 

Premodern Japan divided each day into 6 equal parts between sunrise and sunset, so the length of the "hour" depended on the length of the day, and changed through the seasons. Are their variable length hours and minutes "natural?" 

The precise length of the year down to the second is a product of the modern world and modern technology. It simply wasn't relevant until we could measure the year to a fraction of a second, and it's still not relevant to the vast majority of us. How the solar year, even if we decide we follow it, translates to our time reckoning on clocks and calendars is still decided by us humans. Modern time reckoning based on the solar year is not inevitable, timeless, or universal; it is not "natural," it is a human construct. Same with hours, minutes, and seconds, and how they map to the year. Leap second or no, it will be millennia after I'm dead before I'd notice the difference, so I say I don't have a dog in this fight. I'll leave it to people who actually have a reason to care, designers of GPS systems or whatever, to duke it out, and leave it to them to make sure GPS continues to work.