Tags: Leap Second on Tuesday Gives You Extra Time – Use It Well

Leap Second on Tuesday Gives You Extra Time – Use It Well

By    |   Tuesday, 30 Jun 2015 01:03 PM

Tuesday's leap second will make the day one second longer than almost every other day, once timekeepers add the world’s 27th leap second to their clocks before 8 p.m.

The world began implementing the leap second in 1972 to assure that clocks were in time with earth’s rotation. It takes the planet about 86,400.002 seconds to completely rotate on its axis, showing that every second really does count, according to Vox. However, melting glaciers, changing tides, and other phenomena can cause earth’s rotation to vary.

 


"Lots of people think the Earth's rotation is a simple, 24-hour thing," said Steve Allen, University of California Lick Observatory faculty member. “But weather in the atmosphere, in the ocean, and in the core of the Earth make it complicated."

Tuesday’s extra second is unlikely to affect most people. Cell phones and computers will automatically adjust on their own, and the difference will be too small to notice on everyday clocks.

Before the advent of the Internet, the leap second was scarcely known or talked about.

“Maybe a couple of hundred people and machines and telescopes and room-sized computers cared," Tom Van Baak, clock maker and engineer told NBC News. "And people would flip a few switches and all would be well. No one else knew or cared."

However, many of today’s systems – such as air traffic control devices and stock markets – require the exact time, making the leap second a more notable occurrence.

When the last leap second occurred in 2012, several Amazon systems and Reddit had glitches. In preparation this time around, some sites have opted to include the extra second in their online clocks as “60” (instead of a minute ending with “59”). Amazon and Google have incorporated smaller parts of the leap second into their clock throughout the day, noted NBC News.

Still, some timekeepers think the leap second is arbitrary or even outdated. Initially, the leap second benefited sailors who used the stars to navigate their ships and therefore needed earth’s rotation to align with the official time. Now ships are dependent on GPS, which does not use seconds for navigation.

Since a big part of the leap seconds intended purpose has become obsolete, timekeepers in the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), proposed in 2005 changing the leap second to the leap hour. However, it would take thousands of years for a leap hour to occur, said Vox.

 


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Tuesday's leap second will make the day one second longer than almost every other day, once timekeepers add the world’s 27th leap second to their clocks before 8 p.m.
Leap Second on Tuesday Gives You Extra Time – Use It Well
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2015-03-30
Tuesday, 30 Jun 2015 01:03 PM
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