Birthday Greetings? Take a flying leap - second

Thanks for clicking the link in the Social Media message I sent to you when replying to your message of Birthday Greetings.

A couple of days before my real birthday, I was in the shower, thinking about the upcoming flood of messages I'd get when Facebook informed my FB Friends that it was my birthday on 2016-12-31 (Please note the use of ISO 8601 International Date format - it's a Geek Thang).

Originally, I thought to reply "Birthday? Bah - Humbug", and then I realized what was happening at the end of my "Internet Birthday", the Date Of Birth I give out to the Internet sites that insist that I provide them with this information capable of allowing someone to commit Identity Theft. What I remembered would be happening, was going to happen at precicely 23:59:60 UTC (yes, 60, not 59). You see, at the very end of the year, there is going to be a Leap Second.

Firstly, UTC is the official ISO abbreviation for "Universal Coordinated Time". The abbreviation is inconvenient in both English, and French, so its use was agereed upon.

 photo of an atomic clock display at 23:59:60 If you want to see what a Leap Second looks like, here's a link I got from LeapSecond.Com.

So what do I intend to do for the 2016 Leap Second? I plan to stand on a chair, and at 6:59:58 EST (23:59:58 UTC), I will leap off the chair and hit the floor at 6:59:60 (23:59:60). It will take two seconds to reach the ground. I hope to be on the phone with Vicky, my girl friend when I lived in New York City, and who I always call to celebrate New Years with at Midnight UTC.

So don't be surprised if you get a Busy signal when you call to wish me a Happy New Year.

Now if you've followed some of the other links at the NIST (National Institute of Science & Technology) site, and read about GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) and UTC, you'll understand why I've wondered for years why The Big Bang Theory (the CBS comedy program about geeks and nerds), never had an argument between Dr Raj Koothrappali (an astrophysicyst from India who was schooled at Oxford before arriving at CalTech), and Dr S Cooper (a thoretical physicyst from Texas who was a precocious child and fixated for decades on String Theory).

I would think that growing up in the British Comonwealth as a subject of Her Majesty Elizabeth II, and attending Oxford (only 96 miles from the Greenwich Observatory) Rjesh would naturally assume that GMT would be Zulu Time of choice, while Sheldon would argue (vehemently, as usual) that UTC based on the preciseness of Atomic Clocks instead of mere astronomical observation, is the scientific time zone of choice. (the Maritime community gave the world's Time Zones alpha designators in the 1920's and use the ITU phonetics to discuss them. Zulu designates time at the Zero Meridian, as defined by the Greenwhich observatory, while my US Eastern Time Zone is designated Romeo, and Quebec in Summer).

Robert Osband

PS: While I've got you, Please notice that my "Signature" is "Indented 5 or more characters", which is the definition of the signature in the International Telecommunications Union's Telegraph Regulations (still in force) for the signature in a Telegram. Since I consider e-mail to be the direct linear descendent of the Telegram, you'll find the signature in my e-mail "signature tag" is indented "more that 5 characters", per the regulation. It made sense to me, so I did it anyway.

My typical e-mail signature:

             Ozzie, Licensed Nerd (ham radio license N4SCY)
             Robert Osband, Computerist

tel:+1.321.543.8633   (321-Liftoff)
http://321Liftoff.Net/areacode.html  How I got my very own Area Code

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