I have an article in this Sunday’s Ideas section of the Boston Globe entitled 2011: The Year You Weren’t Expecting. It is essentially a calendar of the coming year that focuses on obscure but interesting events. A selection:
January 9 The world will gain a new nation if voters in Southern Sudan choose independence in a referendum that begins today. The youngest countries in the world currently are Curacao and the Republic of Kosovo.
June 30 This is the next possible date when a leap second might be inserted in order to maintain the accuracy of atomic clocks. If the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service decides the Earth’s rotation has slowed enough to require one, it would be the first leap second inserted since 2008.
July 12 The planet Neptune completes its first full orbit since its discovery on Sept. 23, 1846. Neptune, which was discovered when astronomers calculated that the anomalies in the other planets’ orbits must be caused by a then-unknown eighth planet, takes more than 164 years to circle the sun.
October 17 The 24th meeting of the General Conference of Weights and Measures begins in Paris, at which an international panel of specialists may consider redefining the kilogram. Currently the official kilogram is the weight of a physical cylinder of platinum and iridium stored in a basement vault outside Paris, whereas the meter is defined in terms of the speed of light. The method of the kilogram’s redefinition is up in the air, and could involve the mass of a sphere of silicon with an exact number of atoms, or precise amounts of electromagnetic energy.
November 11 As the date which most closely resembles corduroy, this marks the Corduroy Appreciation Club’s annual holiday. Today, on 11/11/11, the club is planning an unspecified “coordinated international spectacular” to mark the “date which most closely resembles corduroy, ever.”