2008 is so good, it gets extended

For me personally, 2008 was (and still is) a good year. I’ve heard there are some folks a little worried about this recession thingy, but not me. Anyway, recession will run full steam ahead in 2009, not 2008. Or maybe not at all, who can foresee the future? Financial and economic experts certainly not.

And because 2008 is such a good year, it gets extended. First, it was just a normal leap year, gaining a full day. But for the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS), this was not enough: They decided to add another second! Yes, 2008 gains a leap second. So it will be 366 days and one second long. The longest year since 1994 (sorry, IERS bulletin for 1994 is not online).

Leap seconds are necessary because our time is measured using insanely accurate atomic clocks, but our dear Mother Earth is somewhat sluggish – due to tidal friction she is slowing down and therefore a day is no longer 86400 seconds long, but a little longer. To keep atomic clocks and Earth in sync, from time to time leap seconds are added (on average 0.6 seconds/year). Of course, the correct solution would be to spin the Earth a little faster using geo-engineering, but those boffins settle for second-rate solutions.

However, I can’t await New Year’s Eve: 23:59:55, everyone is looking at the watch and preparing; 23:59:59, everyone is inhaling … and then the clock turns to 23:59:60 and everyone’s making a dumb face.

Seems like 2009 will be a funny year.

About Daniel Tiggemann

Software-developer living in Cologne, Germany. Was once a physicist, specialized in computer simulations and parallel programming. Now more into JavaScript, web frontend development, and especially mobile computing.
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