Can you make £18m tonight?

Tonight the entire human population gains an additional second of time as the planet’s clocks are synced with the Earth’s rotation, which is slowing down.

Caffeine spend all their time considering the question of ‘speed’.  Our mission is all about accelerating the growth of businesses and we are obsessed with saving time for the impatient leaders we work with. So we definitely think every second counts.  Let me explain what I mean: the next time you look out of the window at the blue sky, the stillness of the air, the calm of the sea and ponder on how peaceful it is out there, remind yourself that we are spinning at about 800 miles an hour in an orbit around the sun of just over 18.5 miles per second – a speed unmatched by any human-made machine to this day.

Since atomic clocks have been around this is apparently the 27th “leap second” and a lot can happen in a second.

In 2013 – the additional second allowed Reuters’ clients to make trades worth an estimated £18m.  High-frequency traders, who race to make multiple, rapid trades automatically using computer algorithms, waited for the publication of key US manufacturing data.  Rival news wires were due to release it at 10am sharp.  But a synchronisation glitch meant that Reuters published at 09:59:59.985.  Those who had to wait until 10am were furious.

Change in this Universe is incredibly rapid and also the work of millennia.  A second is a lifetime for some creatures – the difference between calamity and safety, between greatness and oblivion. It is one sixtieth of Kipling’s “unforgiving minute”.  The space in which worlds can turn, dynasties fall (Archduke Franz Ferdinand).  The span of a single heartbeat.  Make every second count.


Image (c) Abraham Nowitz, National Geographic Creative

David Kean
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