TIME

2016 to be a second longer

2016 to be a second longer Adding an extra second ensures that the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the global measure of time, is adjusted to follow earth's rotation

For those who complain that the year finished too fast, here is good news. This year will be an extra second longer. Which means, on New Year's midnight the clocks will read 11:59:60, instead of 11:59:59.

The Timekeepers at the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS), which keeps track of the world's time, announced that an extra second will be added on December 31. This is because they observed that the super-regulator atomic clocks and the observed rotation of Earth have become mismatched.

Adding an extra second ensures that the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the global measure of time, is adjusted to follow earth's rotation. Earth's rotation is affected by Moon's gravitational pull and other factors like strong earthquakes. An extra second at the end of the year or at the end of June 30, can help in matching earth's slowing rotation to that of the atomic clocks.

Without a leap second, as this extra second is called, the difference between the official time, as kept by atomic clocks, and a day, based on Earth's rotation, would pile up. It is said, by 2700 we could get an extra half hour of sleep in the morning if leap seconds are not added.

Leap seconds are not added every year. Since 1972, when the practise started, only 26 leap seconds have been added. Last year a leap second was added to June 30. This would be the first time since 1998 when leap seconds were added to consecutive years.

But many are against this practise and call for the abolishment of leap seconds. As computers calculate a minute only in 60 seconds, adding a second to a minute can cause chaos. Some networks around the world fail to account for the added second and fail, though leap seconds are announced six months ahead so that preparatins can be made.

A decision on whether to abolish leap seconds will be taken in 2023 by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) which said that more study is needed to determine the impact on the world's telecommunication systems.

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Topics : #Science | #technology | #space

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