What can you do in a leap second? John Oliver has some ideas

30 Jun 2015

Got a leap second to spend and/or waste today? Last Week Tonight has some one-second videos you may enjoy. Photo by bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock

Because our atomic clocks aren’t entirely in sync with the Earth’s rotation, the last day of June 2015 has been granted a whole extra second of time to make up for it. But what’s to be done in a leap second?

Our concept of time is based on the Earth’s rotation around the sun and on its own axis. While some long-dead geniuses figured that a full rotation of the Earth on its axis neatly breaks down into 86,400 seconds, it was later discovered that they were a teeny bit off.

So, in the same way we get ourselves a leap day every four years, we also gain a leap second every few years, as dictated by the eminent timekeepers at the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service.

A whole extra second in your day – what’s to be done with it?

Spend your leap second here

Last Week Tonight host John Oliver thankfully unveiled a website specifically for leap second activities on his latest show. SpendYourLeapSecondHere.com – also accessible by its working title, JohnOliverSecsTapes.com – is a repository of one-second videos to enjoy at the unique time of 23:59:60 on 30 June 2015.

Watch Oliver launch the site below (but not if you haven’t seen The Sixth Sense or The Usual Suspects, as Oliver also suggests spoiling classic movies as a leap-second activity).

Right now, SpendYourLeapSecondHere.com hosts a countdown to the moment in question, but if you can’t wait you can push the big red button for a quick blitz of entertainment (which may contain some profanity – you have been warned).

Leap second countdown from SpendYourLeapSecondHere.com

Leap second countdown from SpendYourLeapSecondHere.com

Granted, the time it takes to visit the website, press the button and watch the intro that precedes the clip will take you over the leap second limitations, but either way it will be a handful of seconds well spent (or wasted).

So, if you want to spend your 2015 leap second – or any idle seconds you have – watching Patrick Stewart introduce one of hip-hop’s most celebrated all-female acts, or a sports mascot fall on his face, or Nicolas Cage throw a punch dressed as a bear, there’s no better place for it.

Gigglebit is Siliconrepublic’s daily dose of the funny and fantastic in science and tech, to help start your day on a lighter note – because sometimes the lighter side of STEM should be taken seriously, too.

Clock image by bikeriderlondon via Shutterstock

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.