Today, take a flying leap - second
Today, 2016-12-31 (Please note the use of ISO 8601 International Date format - it's a Geek Thang) is one second longer than usual. Today gets a Leap Second to bring the time used by atomic clocks around the world more inline (to within one second) of the time it takes for the Earth to rotate on it's axis in one day.
Firstly, UTC is the official ISO abbreviation for "Universal Coordinated Time". The abbreviation is inconvenient in both English, and French, so its use was agereed upon.
If you want to see what a Leap Second looks like,
here's a link I got from
So what do I intend to do for the 2016 Leap Second? I plan to stand on a chair, and at 6:59:58 EST (23:59:58 UTC), I will leap off the chair and hit the floor at 6:59:60 (23:59:60 UTC - it will take two seconds to hit the ground). I hope to be on the phone with Justice, my blind girl friend when I lived in New York City, and who I always call to celebrate New Years with at Midnight UTC.
So don't be surprised if you get a Busy signal when you call to wish me a Happy New Year.
Now if you've followed some of the other links at the NIST (National Institute of Science & Technology) site, and read about GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) and UTC, you'll understand why I've wondered for years why The Big Bang Theory (the CBS comedy program about geeks and nerds), never had an argument between Dr Raj Koothrappali (an strophysicyst from India who was schooled at Oxford before arriving at CalTech), and Dr S Cooper (a thoretical physicyst from Texas who was a precocious child and fixated for decades on String Theory).
I would think that growing up in the British Comonwealth as a subject of Her Majesty Elizabeth II, and attending Oxford (only 96 miles from the Greenwich Observatory) Rjesh would naturally assume that GMT would be Zulu Time of choice, while Sheldon would argue (vehemently, as usual) that UTC based on the preciseness of Atomic Clocks instead of mere astronomical observation, is the scientific time zone of choice. The Maritime community gave the world's Time Zones alpha designators in the 1920's and use the
ITU phonetics to discuss them. Zulu designates time at the Zero Meridian, as defined by the Greenwhich observatory, while my US Eastern Time Zone is designated Romeo, and Quebec in Summer during Daylight Savings Time).
Return to The Cheshire Catalyst's home page