I was looking for a domain name that somehow reflected my interest in Atomic Clocks and precise Time & Frequency. The obvious names including the words like time, precision, atomic, cesium, clocks, nano, picosecond, calibration were either taken or seemed bland. Then it occurred to me that my drive to measure time to micro and nanoseconds could be neatly summed up by my interest in leap seconds. I remember recording the first leap second in the summer of 1972 on an Aiwa short-wave radio cassette tape recorder.
I am quite struck by the fact that for all of human history the rotation of the Earth was the rock-solid stable standard against which all mechanical clocks were measured: water clocks, pendulum clocks, marine chronometers. For thousands of years mankind has attempted to build more reliable, more stable, and more accurate clocks. Then during the 20th century we finally reached a peak: the creation of clocks more stable than the Earth itself. And during the 60's the world quietly converted to atomic time; UTC was born and is now the basis of civil time throughout the world.
The switch to atomic time satisfied the need for stability and accuracy. But in doing so an unavoidable problem of synchronization was created. Leap seconds were devised to address that problem.
To me the need for, and the existence of, leap seconds is one of the most dramatic reminders that mankind can now construct clocks more accurate than the Earth. After July 20, 1969, can one gaze at the Moon and not be reminded of our triumph of space? After July 1, 1972, can one observe a Leap Second and not be reminded of our triumph of time? A leap second is a small step for a clock but a giant leap for mankind./tvb