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Astronomers Announce That 2016 Will Be One Second Longer


Scientists who synchronize the Earth's rotation with universal time have announced that 2016 will need to be just a little bit longer than last year.

A normal year consists of 31,536,000 seconds. Not without a certain existentialist mood, we might say that those are 31,536,000 opportunities to make a decision, or possibilities for our lives to change diametrically, or chances for our personal worlds to be transformed. “I always live in the present. The future I can’t know. The past I no longer have,” wrote Fernando Pessoa, thus giving words to the feeling we experience from time to time that a moment is here … but then not. The fleeting moment is by definition one in which we simultaneously feel alive but transient, the perpetual here of which the Buddhist tradition speaks.

In this context, the news that we’re sharing now takes on an entirely different meaning. A few days ago, astronomers with the International Earth Rotation and Reference Service (IERS) announced that at the end of this year one more second year will be added to 2016. This to synchronize the rotation of the Earth with coordinated universal time (known as UTC). For their work, scientists at the IERS are known by the poetic nickname, “timekeepers.”

Now that you know, you may want to start thinking about what to do with that 31,536,001st second of 2016.

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