Discover more from Two-Lane Renaissance
Does anybody really know what time it is?
Are your seconds atomic or astronomical?
time - the measured or measurable period during which an action, process, or condition exists or continues
While it is often referred to as an illusion, time is not a nonexistent or false reality, but rather a human-made construct that helps us make sense of our experiences. In the Special Theory of Relativity, Einstein determined that time is relative—in other words, the rate at which time passes depends on your frame of reference.
Time is a measurement of motion and energy. Time is a number that describes our events. In grade school, we’re taught that a clock ticks at the same rate as the Earth rotates, and then it converts the Earth's motion into time. We’re taught that the calendar year of 365 days is how long it actually takes Earth to make a trip around the sun.
Neither of these is accurate.
The Gregorian calendar, the calendar system we use today, was first introduced in 1582. Known as the Western or Christian calendar, is the most widely used calendar in the world today. The earth takes 365¼ days to complete its circuit around the sun, not a straight 365 days. It's that .25 that creates the need for a leap year every four years.
No human calendar correctly reflects a tropical year —the actual time it takes the Earth to circle once around the Sun. The Gregorian calendar differs from the solar year by 26 seconds per year. As a result, since Gregory introduced his calendar in 1582, we’re off now by several hours. By the year 4909, the Gregorian calendar will be a full day ahead of the solar year.
So, our calendar is a map of time — past, present, future — growing more and more distant from the “time” of the universe. And in a decade, will part from astrological time completely. Why? Because computers can’t compute this glitch in the imperfect human construct of time.
The accuracy of humanity’s chronometer is critically flawed, and computers cannot function properly with our timeless imperfections. And while we have all heard of Leap Years, I just recently learned about Leap Seconds. According to Wikipedia, “a leap second is a one-second adjustment that is occasionally applied to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), to accommodate the difference between precise time (International Atomic Time (TAI), as measured by atomic clocks) and imprecise observed solar time (UT1), which varies due to irregularities and long-term slowdown in the Earth's rotation.”
The truth is, none of us really know what time it is.
If you are interested in the topic of leap seconds, the New York Times recently posted an article about the international community’s problem with leap seconds. You can read it here.