It’s a classic complaint: there’s not enough time in the day to get everything done (though there always seems to be plenty of time to blow off friends for a solo marathon of Pawn Stars). But if Yelp has taught us anything, it’s that people who grumble enough end up getting free stuff. At 23:59:59 UTC (4:59:59 p.m. PST) today, June 30, the world’s time scientists will bestow upon us the gift of longevity by adding a leap second to our clocks.
National Geographic says that leap seconds allow astronomical time (determined by Earth’s rotation) to catch up with our overachieving Cesium-based atomic clocks, whose ticks are dictated by the cycling of atoms. Atomic clocks measure time more accurately than clocks based on the rotation of our planet; leap seconds were introduced in 1972 to micromanage that precision. In their first year, “researches inserted 10 extra seconds into the world’s clocks because astronomical time and atomic time were off by so much,” NatGeo says.
Leap seconds can cause major drama if computer systems aren’t equipped to handle them. The last one, inserted in 2012, caused Reddit and Gawker to crash, which probably left Internet trolls feeling robbed of their purpose in life. This time around, Apple users should be safe, but those operating on a Windows system will basically be living out A Wrinkle in Time until it syncs with a Network Time Protocol server.
So, how should you spend those extra 1,000 milliseconds? Here are six things to do with the additional time:
-Send a text to your future self that says, “Be there in a second.”
-Capture a screenshot of your phone at 4:59:59 and preserve it forever as a time fossil.
-Give birth. 4.3 babies are born every second.
-Start following @Stephen_Hawking on Twitter.
-Seduce a stranger. Social science reveals that raising an eyebrow for less than a second shows interest.
-Say, “Flux Capacitor.”