Do you already know what to do with your extra second?

This Tuesday, June 30, 2015, will have an additional second to adjust atomic clocks around the world. What can you do with an extra second?

by Manuel M. Almeida


This Tuesday will have an extra second. It will be just at midnight, when we go from 23:59:59 to 23:59:60, instead of going straight to zero and make way for the new day. According to the International Earth Rotation Service, “it is a ‘trick‘ needed to fine-tuning atomic clocks around the world, in perfect synchronization with the movement of the earth”.

A second more. As a bonus track of time, that human and simultaneously so inhuman convention that parcels cycles and happenings in an attempt to control that which in turn controls us so effectively. So mired in timers, stopwatches, diaries and calendars, all so full of everything and so exact that if we are offered an unexpected second we directly despise or we do not know what to do with it. Not? Do you know for what you’ll use that second? Does it seem ridiculous and useless to program so short time? Do you think you can not do anything of interest with it?

How many things happen in a second?

I have looked over a bit and so, roughly, putting them in quarantine because they are of recent years, but old and because I have not proven obviously one by one, these are some of the data I have been able to find:

  • In a second in space, light travels 300,000 kilometers and Earth, 30 kilometers around the sun. The space station travels 465 kilometers in its Atmospheric orbit.
  • A cheetah runs 31 meters. An elite athlete, 10 meters. A snail 1.5 millimeters.
  • Our heart pumps 80 milliliters and in our body two million red blood cells die. At rest, we lose 23 calories. 166 fragments detach of our skin.
  • 2,500 aspirins and about 1,000 barrels of oil are consumed, each barrel is 159 liters.
  • The Amazon River pours 200 million liters to the ocean. In the atmosphere hundred and sixty rays and lightnings are produced.
  • The land loses 2,853 square meters of forest. In the Amazon jungle a portion equivalent to half a hectare is destroyed.
  • Four babies are born in the world. The planet’s population increases by 2.89 people.
  • Mankind spends 35,000 euros on arms. 1.27 cars are manufactured. 16 smartphones are sold. 38,000 plastic bags are used.

And in the Internet:

  • 9.5010 tweets.
  • 2,285 Instagram photos.
  • 2,033 Tumblr posts.
  • 1,792 calls in Skype.
  • 22,281 GB of web traffic.
  • 49,473 Google searches.
  • 103,336 YouTube videos are watched.
  • 2,406,609 emails.

In a second you can say ‘yes’ and you can say ‘no’. That’s nothing, make a decision that may change little or may end up transforming a lifetime. Literature and journalism are full of phrases like ‘one second was enough‘, and most seem exciting. Press a button, score a goal, enter the ballot in the ballot box, an injection, a signature … they are things that take a second, but imagine its possible significance.

This extra second of June 30, 2015 will have its effect in certain statistics, as we have seen, and will cause some –few, say the experts– mismatches, but it can also be a unique opportunity to do something special, different. Anyway, it is one-sixtieth of a minute that never should have been there, and that itself can excite a few imaginations.

On my part, I have committed it. I’m meeting someone to extend a kiss. And Wednesday, we’ll see.


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