We’re all familiar with the concept of the leap year, but here’s something you might not have paid much attention to before — the leap second.
The last time we experienced a leap second was on 30 June in 2012, where, just before midnight, this happened:
And this year, we will be getting another leap second — this will take place tomorrow (1 July) at 8AM Singapore time.
The reason for the addition of a leap second?
Well, according to The Straits Times, atomic clocks estimate the length of a day to be approximately 86,400 seconds. However, the Earth is slowing down (in terms of its rotation around its own axis), and now takes 86,400.002 seconds to complete a rotation. To fix the slight time difference, a second must then be added every couple of years to account for the difference.
But wait a minute. If you think that gaining an extra second is not that big of a deal, you’d be wrong. Back in 2012, when a leap second was added, a fair number of websites crashed. According to Wired, sites like Reddit, Foursquare and LinkedIn experienced technical difficulties, with some having to reboot entire servers to fix the problem.
Other electronic systems — like financial trading markets — that work based on precise time, according to Gawker, will also fail to work should the addition of a leap second be overlooked.
Crashes aside, though, people around the world are already looking forward to the leap second, with various sites offering suggestions as to what we can do to occupy our extra second. Here are some of our favourites, with a couple of our own ideas thrown in:
Consider Taking The Stairs
The leap second will happen at 8AM local time, which means most of us are likely to be on our way to work. If your office doesn’t happen to be on the first floor, this might be something you’ll want to think about. You know, just for a second.
Memorise The Train Announcements — In Every Language
Speaking of being on your way to work, many of us might be finding ourselves stuck in traffic come Wednesday morning. Instead of staring down at your phones during your commute — we don’t know if they’ll be working given the time leap, but fingers crossed — try paying attention to the train announcements for once.
Watch A 1-Second Video
Introduced by comedian John Oliver on the show Last Week Tonight, this site will do just that — show you videos that last for a second.
We don’t know if the site will actually work when the second rolls around — it might even crash — but I guess only time (hah) will tell.
If All Else Fails…
Still don’t have plans to spend that extra second? This Buzzfeed quiz could help you decide.