Features

A Day With a Difference

By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant
By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant

There is something special about those extra days added to the calendar every four years to give us the 29th day of February. These leap days allow us to occasionally correct our calendar, which does not fully account for the reality of the passage of time, and the movement of the earth around the sun. Just noticing the difference represents a step forward for mankind, science, and the practical application of knowledge. Are you aware that the 29th of February links us to Pope Gregory in 1582, and to the Emperor Julius Caesar 46 years before the birth of Jesus Christ?

The change-over from the previous Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar 434 years ago was a big deal. It represents a leap forward in science and in the application of knowledge. So what exactly is the big deal about that extra day? Computer systems need a reliable and consistent way to refer to time, especially since our computers now communicate with each other. (Refer to earlier article “Timing is Everything” of 19th March 2015.) You may also remember the concern that took place before the year 2000, which gave rise to the term Y2K.

In a real way, having a 29th day of February highlights this history and reality. Maybe like me, you know of someone who was born on that specific day. Can you imagine celebrating a birthday or other anniversary without the actual day arriving during the year? Do they feel cheated having to wait every four years for that combination? Do they age more slowly?

While we are on the topic of time, have you heard of leap seconds? They are occasionally added to clocks worldwide to correct for irregularities in the rotation of the earth! The last one was added before midnight on June 30 last year. What’s next for our calendar? Time will tell.

To share your views, contact the author at: www.datashore.net or via The Voice.

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