A stitch in time

I’ve known about this for quite a while: the earth doesn’t rotate in exactly 24 hours. The people who worry about “what time it is” occasionally add (or subtract) a second from the count in order to make our clocks agree with what we see in the sky. What I didn’t know was that the addition of a so-called “leap second” is controversial in some scientific communities — the kinds of communities where you dare not show up late for a meeting.

Another thing I did not know is that there exists something called the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERRSS). I’ll give you a second to catch your breath (and then you can give the second back later on.)

Anyway, the last minute of 2005 will be 61 seconds long. Make plans accordingly.

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