June Is Getting A Leap Second, A Minute That Lasts For 61 Seconds

For those of us who complain about not having enough hours in the day you'll be pleased to know that science is adding an entire second, a leap second, to our lives.

On June 30 at precisely 2359 we will experience a minute that lasts 61 seconds and while it's unlikely to solve an impending time management crisis, the leap second has become a hotly debated subjected within the horologist community -- the last time this happened the internet crashed.

This year could be the leap second's final appearance as critics argue that it is not worth the hassle it causes.

In 2012 the 61-second minute brought the internet to a stand still with a number of sites including Reddit and LinkedIn crashing because its computers couldn't quite cope with the extra second.

Daniel Gambis director of the Service of the Rotation of the Earth -- a branch of the IERS -- and the man in charge of deciding when the leap second happens, says the system is flawed.

Speaking to he said:

"The problem is synchronisation between computers.

"They do sort things out, but sometimes it can take several days.

"The last modification, on June 30, 2012, was disruptive for many Internet servers—the online reservation system for the Australian airline Qantas "went down for several hours."

The extra second is a man-made addition ordered by the International Earth Rotations and Reference Systems Service (IERS) to ensure that the atomic clock is in sync with the earth's rotation and it occurs when there is a 0.9 second difference between Coordinated Universal Time and the former.

Since 1972, the leap second has come into force 25 times.

Atomic clocks are highly accurate as each second is measured by the energy emitted by electrons moving around in an atom.

While time at the atomic level doesn't affect the snooze buttons on our alarm clocks it does directly impact the accuracy of time data received by GPS satellites.

Getting rid of the 61-second minute won't make much of a difference to us in the near future but it would mean that our standard time will one day fall out of sync with the Earth's rotation potentially allowing us to have sunsets at dawn.

On the other hand it may give us the option to reinvent time, which is a tempting prospect.