Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Time stands still... for a second or two.

Time rarely gets a second chance.  The clock ticks forward, and it does so at a pretty consistent speed.  Though we use our own version of time largely dependent on where we live... CST, PST, MT, GMT, there is only one true time.  The Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is actually a time scale based on the mean solar time and earths real time spin.  In 1999, for some unknown reason, the earth's spin actually increased.  I blame Prince.  If only he hadn't declared the year a party, we might not have been living life in the fast lane.

UTC is counted by using the atomic clock, but is kept in sinc with the actual mean solar time by adjusting the time on the atomic clock twice a year if needed.  This day is on June 30th.  This Leap Second Time Adjustment Day however, there is no adjustment needed.  It seems we do not need to either slow down the atomic clock...  repeat a second, or speed it up and skip a second in time.  So it's not much of a leap at all this year.  Maybe in we'll need to on Leap Second Time Adjustment Day 2.0 (December 31). There is a movement afoot in the scientific community to abolish the Leap Second. Sure.. it might not seem like that big a deal now... but in a million years or so... we could have lost 1 week 4 days 13 hours 46 minutes and 40 seconds. 

The atomic clock, and the fact that I'm staying with my watch addicted mate this week, has me wondering how accurate a timepiece can be if not adjusted likewise as is the UTC. Is a Rolex more likely to keep accurate time and slow down for just a second every now and again, and only if announced that an adjustment is needed?  Can a Patek Phillipe? I don't know if my Android can or that my solar powered Citizen can do it either, and it only runs if it gets to see the light of day.  Could an atomic watch be too far away? After all, how big does an oscillating atom have to be? I'm sure in time, this is time piece we will all be wearing. 

At 0 hours 13 minutes 35 seconds GMT on this date in 1908 a Meteor struck Russia, causing an explosion above the earth.  Although the meteor is thought to have burst above ground, it is still considered an impact, and in written history, still the largest of it's kind.  There are estimates that the blast was the equivalent of anywhere from 5-30 megatons of TNT.  The 'event' is called the Tunguska Explosion, and thus today is Meteor Day.  I'm not sure if this a day we should celebrate.  Scientific estimations at what the impact of a meteor hitting earth today show mass destruction not unlike the movies.  A large meteor could be an extinction causing event.  Our planet would be left to the cockroaches and Twinkies, bringing on a whole new time... Blattapastryzoic period.  Now there is a time we could leap over.

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