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When The Clock Strikes 1234567890
Friday, February 13, 2009
Size:  (not chosen)
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This event commemorates the first explicit appearance of all ten decimal digits on the POSIX clock.
I would advise everyone to arrive at least a half hour prior so we can toast this historic event. The festivities will continue for at least 88 minutes after the clock strikes 1234567890.
I will tell you where the event is and the day to show up, but it is up to you, dear cacher to figure out what time to show up.
We will meet up at Weso's Italian Restaurant, located at 3 Marchwood Road in beautiful Exton, just off of PA-100. Just tell the friendly staff that you are a Geocacher looking for the Kin9. You will be whisked away to the Royal Dining Hall where we will celebrate the clock striking 1234567890.
The log book will open at 1234566180.
Our toast will be at 1234567890.
And the log book will be closed at 1234573200
I will leave the conversion of the POSIX clock to UTC or EST as an exercise for the cacher who would like to attend. I will however give the reader a short history of time and point to the tools that will do the conversion.
Time, flowing like a river
Time, beckoning me
Who knows when we shall meet again, if ever
But time keeps flowing
Like a river to the sea
Back in the day, time keeping was a highly personal and localized experience before the advent of standard time. Each municiality would set its own clock, usually based on the position of the sun. The Royal Observatory was built in 1675 and started officially keeping Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and this was the first step towards standardization.
With the advent of the steam engine and the telegraph, the world effectively shrank. The diversity of local times made the scheduling and running of trains difficult. In the 1850s the Railroads proposed the concept of standard time. Since the Railroads were the key to prosperity in those days, the idea quickly took hold.
In 1879, a system of Worldwide timezones was proposed. The time zones were for the most part based on every fifteen degrees of longitude. In 1883 the Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific Time Zones were created. In 1884, the universal day of 24 hours beginning at Greenwich midnight was adopted.
In 1918, Standard Time was adopted and signed into law in the United States. By 1929, most major countries were using time zones. But some countries did not apply the concept as originally concieved. Some countries use half-hour or even quarter hour deviations from Standard Time.
Standard time was based on GMT, which is the mean solar time at the Prime Meridian. There are some variations in the length of the solar day, but that was OK, until the advent of Atomic Clocks in 1955.
The second was redefined in terms of the frequency of caesium in 1967. And in 1971, with the linking of over 300 atomic clocks worldwide, International Atomic Time (TAI) began. TAI would become the basis of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) which is used for civil timekeeping all over the Earth's surface.
Unix time, or POSIX time, is a system for describing points in time, defined as the number of seconds elapsed since the Unix epoch began on 00:00:00 UTC on January 1, 1970. This number is represented on most computer systems as a signed integer.
In older systems, this signed interger was only 32 bits wide. The maximum value of this interger would be two to the thirty first power and realized early in 2038. Since then this integer has been expanded to 64 bits and will be good for about another 292 billion years.
Now TAI, UTC and POSIX time are all related and sometimes used interchangably, but there are subtle differences. TAI and POSIX are based on a 86400 second day, however UTC will periodically add leap seconds to account for the slowing of the earth's rotation. There have been 24 leap seconds added to UTC since 1972. UTC was also started with a 10 second difference from TAI. So as of today, UTC is 34 seconds behind TAI and 24 seconds behind POSIX time.
Now counting over 1.2 billion seconds would be an all day chore for a human, but your computer lives to count things. Converting POSIX time to something more human readable is trivial for your computer. I will give you the commands to get this information in Python and PERL. So just follow along to find out when the event is or just pay the kid across the street $5 to tell you.
With PERL, which is pretty much standard on Linux and UNIX boxes, a simple one-liner will reveal all. At the Command Prompt type:
perl -e "print scalar localtime(1234567890)"
Python is an interpretive language, so you can have some fun trying different things and different values. The screen shot below reveals the date of both UNIX Billenniums but just stops short of giving you the answer.
Or you could just visit http://www.isit1234567890yet.com/
Goodbye my friend
Maybe for forever
Goodbye my friend
The stars wait for me
Who knows where we shall meet again, if ever
But time keeps flowing Like a river
To the sea, to the sea
'Til it's gone forever
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