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## Ivo said:

If we consider optimal attention span, a microcentury is much too long. Two half microcenturies with a pause in between would be better.

## Hillel Wayne said:

I like this analysis a lot! But there's one more twist to the story: are we even using the right definition of year? There's actually several different ways we can define a year:

• NIST-811 defines the light-year "year" as 365.2500 days and the "common year" as 365 days exactly.
• The sidereal year: the time it takes for the stars to return to a fixed point. That's 365.2563 days.
• The tropical year: the time between vernal equinoxes. That's 365.2421 days.
• The anomalistic year: the time between points where the earth is closest to the sun. That's 365.2596 days.

For each of these we can define the microcentury as a hundred microyears. So the sidereal microcentury is +35.81 seconds, while the tropical microcentury is +35.69 seconds. The NIST microcentury is +33.6 seconds, while the Julian microcentury is +35.76 seconds (as you calculated).

Personally, I'd define a calendar microcentury as a four-millionth of 400 years to match the leap year cycle. That'd give us +35.692 seconds.

## François Best said:

We had a running joke in engineering school, that π seconds is close to a nanocentury by around 6 nanomonths, we obviously didn't go that far in calculations, so I wonder if it still holds.

## Tome said:

Running overtime is the one unforgivable error a lecturer can make.

This is tangential to the content of the article but I'm continually astonished by the number of speakers who seem to be comfortable (largely at conferences) running over time cutting into their question time, the time of the next speaker, or even worse, lunch! Presumably it's not just me and Rota who feel this way, but it seems like there must be a large contingent of people who are very easygoing about it and quite happy to overrun or listen to overrunning speakers. I would be interested to know the thoughts of other readers.

Elon Musk says he is willing to spend \$6 billion to fight world hunger if all hungry people relocate to Mars. So it could be good idea to calculate how long one milionth of a century on Mars is!

## FemmeAndroid said:

Tome,

At most conferences, the people speaking are not professional speakers, and as such I don’t mind them running over.

In my experience, it’s hard to time a talk correctly, even with multiple run throughs ahead of time. Standing up in front of a big crowd, even if I’ve got a stop watch running I can end up going far too quick, or far too slowly, and end up with tunnel vision where I fail to identify and correct the mistake.

Are _some_ of the speakers doing it intentionally? Probably. Did some just fail to prepare? Almost certainly. But things come up, and in the most charitable case, they just stood in front of a bunch of people and communicated something they thought was important. I applaud them for that, and move on.

## Steve Perkins said:

I usually don't like it when people sidestep the content of a link, to go on some tangent about its typography or aesthetics. But damn. This is a gorgeous looking blog, for using only default fonts and minimal CSS.

Apparently the author wrote his own static site builder in Common Lisp, but it's so minimal that the content itself is still written in raw HTML. It feels silly but this just takes me back to happier days (pre-WordPress and pre-social media) and makes me wonder why we lost our way. I dearly miss the feeling of making sites like this (but uglier!) back in the 1990's. Applause.

## Uehreka said:

FemmeAndroid,

So true! I always rehearse my talks several times with the stopwatch on my phone sitting on a nearby desk, but I feel like that’s not an obvious thing to people who are getting started and don’t have theatre or public speaking experience.

It's a lot like that quote, "If I had more time I would’ve written a shorter letter."

## Niccl said:

FemmeAndroid,

I've always thought that conference talks should have the traffic light system that you get a Toastmasters.

IIRC it's green while you've still got plenty of time, orange when you're within x minutes of the scheduled end, and red once you're at the scheduled end.

I've found from Toastmasters that a nice bright light at the back of the hall is much easier to respond to than a clock or something counting down.

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