Sunday, January 11, 2015

The leap second

Every so often I regret not being a real scientist or engineer because I would love to be in the thick of an absorbingly geeky argument like whether humanity should continue to use leap seconds.

Leap seconds are the kind of endearingly random adjustment to a technical system (in this case, Coordinated Universal Time) that can't be automated. The possibility of error in propagating the adjustments is high enough that a number of officials tasked with timekeeping have been arguing for eliminating the adjustment.

I love seemingly arcane technical matters that have serious consequences if they're handled incorrectly. I always marvel that tiny changes can have so great an effect.

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