In a little more than a day’s time (depending on where you happen to be in the world), we’ll be closing the book on 2016. On top of everything that will make 2016 stand out in our minds, here’s one more thing to add to the list: 2016 will be one second longer than a standard year. Known as a leap second, we sometimes have to tack on this additional second thanks to irregularities in Earth’s rotation.
Leap seconds don’t happen every year, but they’re far more frequent than the extra day we add to the calendar during a leap year. In fact, since we first began using leap seconds to even out the Coordinated Universal Time in 1972, 26 leap seconds have been added. Astronomer Phil Plait gives a good explanation of what leap seconds are why we need them over in a post on his Bad Astronomy blog.
Since it isn’t every day that you get an extra second, you may want to mark the occasion by getting as much use out of it as you can. It can be hard to decide what to do when you have only a second to spare, so here are five ideas you may want to consider as we see 2016 off into the great beyond.
1. Cry a bit more
Look, 2016 has been a rough year. We lost a lot of greats this year – perhaps one of your favorites – and there were a lot of big political decisions like the US Presidency or Brexit that may not have gone how you hoped. If you’re feeling particularly downtrodden, consider using your extra second to shed just a few more tears. Let it all out, and then let out just a little more, because 2016 really has done a bang-up job of making us all feel sad in one way or another.
2. Watch the extra second come and go
If, on the other hand, you’re feeling rather unphased by 2016’s assault and want to see the extra second in action, you can do that too. Just head over to www.time.gov and switch to the UTC clock. Instead of rolling over to a new day at 23:59:59 on December 31, the UTC clock will show 23:59:60, giving you a chance to literally watch this spare second come and go. Attempting to watch time fly has to count for something, right?
3. Start your 2017 resolution to get in shape early
If you’re ready to show 2016 the door, why not use your extra second to get rolling on your fitness resolutions for 2017? You won’t be able to do much with your extra second, but that’s enough time to get going and carry your first workout into 2017.
So strap on your smartwatch or fitness tracker – if you need a couple of suggestions we can help you there – and use your second to do an extra sit up or push up. Remember: no one can accuse of not taking your resolutions seriously if you technically got started in 2016.
4. Do nothing and revel in it
So everyone’s making a big deal about this extra second, but you don’t care. It’s an extra second, why should it matter? We’ll probably get another one in 2017, or 2018 at the latest. Just spend the extra second looking at your phone, or better yet, do absolutely nothing, confident in the knowledge that you’re not letting an uncommon, cosmically-influenced event dictate how you spend your time.
5. Shoot someone a smile
If you want to end 2016 on a more positive note, you can always spend your extra second giving someone a smile. 2016 did its best drag us down, but at the end of it all, you’ve made it through another trip around the Sun, hopefully surrounded by people who care about you and spending at least some of your year doing things you enjoy. With a new year upon us, try to spend your final second of 2016 putting some positivity out there. Just try not to be too creepy about it.