With all the hours that he has logged, he’s in dire need of a vacation, and thanks to a scientific phenomenon he will soon be able to take a much needed rest.
And he’s more than ready for the break he will receive — his sandals and sun hat are ready to go.
Most people are able to take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to recoup from the daily grind of a 40-hour work week. But Santamaria will need to cram all of his vacation time into one second.
There will be an extra “tick” to the clock Friday as scientists add a leap second and in that time Santamaria has decided to hand the reigns over during that time period.
Leap seconds are introduced periodically to keep up with Earth’s slowing down as it spins around its axis. Earth’s slowing is due to the braking action caused by the tides.
Scientists keep track of the rotation of the earth by timing when certain stars are overhead.
“The science behind it is that the Earth is ever so slowly slowing down,” Santamaria said.
According to a news release from Tellus, the leap second effect has only added 2 milliseconds to the day in the last 188 years. Since the building of the great pyramid of Giza, 4,500 years ago, the day has only grown 1/14 of a second longer.
In the last 20 years, seven leap seconds have been added. Leap seconds are irregularly spaced because the Earth’s rotation speed changes irregularly. Since the Earth’s rotation is unpredictable in the long term, they are usually announced only six months in advance.
Friday at noon, Santamaria will take his one second vacation and Tellus is celebrating with a special contest for kids. One lucky child will get to be “Director for a Second,” giving the hardworking executive director a well-earned vacation.
“I get free time that doesn’t get taken away even though it is one second,” Santamaria said.
The winning child will win a free entry into the museum for their family, a planetarium show, a behind-the-scenes tour of the museum, and a special gift bag.
“We’ll make their time worth their while,” Santamaria said.