The Leap Second Story
Abbey MacDonald as Beckett
The below content provides context for "The Leap Second Story"
The Gate: The Leap Second
Observations of the sun are the traditional basis for our ability to keep time. The most recent and smallest change of our timekeeping practices has been the leap second. Apparent solar time, the time given by sundials, varies through the year for a number of reasons, including the Earth’s orbital inclination, its eccentricity, or even due to a catastrophic tsunami. Every now and then, approximately every 18 months, we add a leap second to our clocks to synchronize them with the Earth’s ever slowing rotation. By adding that extra second, we stop our clocks for just a moment to give the Earth an opportunity to catch up.
The International Earth Rotation and Reference System Service (IERS) is charged with predicting when the next leap second should be added. It then informs national time laboratories of the impending leap second to be added to the last minute of any month. Preference has been given to the ends of June and December. Clocks which display the leap second will then have an added 61st second. Due to the gradual slowing of Earth’s rotation, it is expected that leap seconds will become more frequent.
National Research Council Canada. “The Leap Second.” National Research Council Canada, 9 Jan. 2020, nrc.canada.ca/en/certifications-evaluations-standards/canadas-official-time/leap-second.
The Waiting Area: The Butterfly Effect
Over half a century ago, Edward Lorenz predicted that a single flap of a butterfly’s wings could bring about a destructive tornado. With that, the butterfly effect— an event’s dependency on its initial conditions— was born. This phenomenon guarantees the outsize effects and significance of seemingly inconsequential occurrences. We are all connected through the small things and the ways they have non-linear impacts on an increasingly complex global system.
Everything plays a fundamental and pivotal role in the way that we exist; a delayed bus, an extra second on the phone, choosing to turn left instead of right on an arbitrary Tuesday morning, the time it takes you to tell someone just how much you love them. Every step you take, and every step you don’t take, leads to infinite possibilities of favourite moments and things gone wrong. In the grand scheme of things, none of your movements go unnoticed. You are not irrelevant here. You are not inconsequential anywhere. The simple way in which you flap your wings will bring about stunning and world-shifting effects.
Carr, Rob, “2019 worlds busiest airports face a huge challenge,” CNN Travel,