Got a Second?

“Just a sec,” she said, but I wonder if she understood what that means. “The official definition of the second was first given by the [International Bureau of Weights and Standards] at the 13th General Conference on Weights and Measures in 1967 as: ‘The second is the duration of 9192631770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom.’” After reading that definition in Wikipedia, I’m still not sure I know what it means!

Originally, a second was derived by dividing a day into 24 hours. An hour is 60 minutes, and a minute is made up of 60 seconds. Therefore, a second is 1/86400th of a day. Of course, the length of a day isn’t an exact measurement, so a second is only an approximation, or what scientists call apparent time. Clocks, being scientifically calibrated, measure mean time. That’s still too hard for me to understand, so let’s look at some examples:

If you drop a rock, it will fall 4.9 meters (16.08 feet) in one second. A meter-long pendulum will swing one meter in one second. Wikipedia continues, “the fastest human sprinters run 10 meters in a second; an ocean wave in deep water travels about 23 meters in one second; sound travels about 343 meters in one second in air; light takes 1.3 seconds to reach Earth from the surface of the Moon, a distance of 384,400 kilometers.”

Seconds are divided into smaller parts. A 10th of a second is a decisecond. A hundredth of a second is called a centisecond. Most of us have heard of the millisecond (a thousandth of a second). There follows the microsecond (10-3 S), the nanosecond (10-9 S), the picosecond (10-12 S), femtosecond (10-15 S), attosecond (10-18 S), and the zeptosecond (10-21 S). Do not confuse the yoctosecond (10-24 S) with the yottasecond, which equals 31.7 quadrillion years!

A friend of mine pointed out the shortest perceivable moment of time is the time it takes for a stoplight to turn green and the California driver behind you to honk his horn! 

For our devotional today, I’d like you to think about three times in the Bible. God created the world in seven days. We shall all be changed in the blinking of an eye, and, in heaven, time shall be no more.

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