Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Leap Year

PostedFebruary 26, 2012

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Anchor Lede: On Wednesday, an extra leap day is added to our calendar. Most of us won’t give it much thought. But calendar precision has been important to human civilization…and may become a hot topic again.

Randy Atkins: Earth’s daily rotation isn’t linked to its orbit around the Sun, which takes a bit longer than three-hundred sixty five days. So Jason Cassibry, a University of Alabama engineer, says here in the northern hemisphere…

Jason Cassibry: …if you didn’t account for that extra quarter of a day, plus change, then eventually January 1st would actually be in summertime.

Randy Atkins: We’ve pretty well fixed things by adding leap days here on Earth, but Cassibry’s working on ways to get to other planets and says such calendar adjustments…

Jason Cassibry: …might become more important again because then you have to start worrying about, well if people are living on Mars what calendar are they going to go by?

Randy Atkins: As he works on deep space travel issues, though, Cassibry says…

Jason Cassibry: …having that extra day just gives me an extra day to get work done.

Randy Atkins: With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.