TECH

An Extra Second Is Being Added To 2016, So We Can All Enjoy It A Little Longer

Will it never end...?

30/12/2016 10:27

Seeing as we’ve been so pleased with 2016 so far, officials have decided to add an extra second to the year, just so we can all savour it a little longer. 

On 31 December, a whole second will be added to the world’s clocks at 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds at Coordinated Universal Time. 

So you’ll have to wait a little longer for that midnight kiss.

Shutterstock / digieye

This ‘leap second’ isn’t just a cruel, pedantic prank, but is in fact essential for the world to remain in sync with other celestial bodies in our solar system.

Historically, the passing of time was always defined by the earth’s rotation relative to other planets.

But with the invention of far more precise atomic clock methodology, known as International Atomic Time (IAT), there needed to be a compromise between the two.

So in 1970, an agreement was established between scientists at Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS) to monitor the difference between the two time scales.

Then, when they fall out of sync with each other, the team can call for an additional leap second to be inserted or removed as required.

Since 1972, a total of 26 additional leap seconds have been added at intervals varying from six months to seven years, with the most recent being inserted on 30 June 2015.  

After this latest insertion on New Year’s Eve 2016, the difference between UTC and IAT will be 37 seconds.

People often falsely believe that this addition of extra time, means that the Earth is slowing down its rotation – taking longer to do everything.

And therefore, will stop rotating all together in a few millennia. 

However the researchers want to reassure people that the one-second increments are only an indication of the difference between the two time-measurement-systems rather than anything more sinister.

Suggest a correction
Comments

CONVERSATIONS