One of the surprises 2015 has for us is an extra second! We will be having one second more than last year because of the slowing down of the Earth’s rotation.
We all have, at some point in our lives, wished that we could be given some more time: when the deadline alarms resound louder, when some appointed time lapse comes to an end, and even at the time of death. Time, though, runs away from us, without us being able to own it. It slips away from our hands like sand as the second, minute and hour hands ‘tic and toc’. This year, however, might buy us some more time than we are used to: one more second.
Scientists have affirmed that we are going to be gifted with one extra second this year; they have called it a “leap second” to the UTC clock on June 30 at 11:59:59 such that 11:59:60 will become “a thing”.
The mechanism behind
Our planet is moving at a slower pace than the precise atomic clocks: the two are not running in harmony. It is actually our very own planet that is gradually deviating from the original rule: the Earth is decelerating by around two thousandths of a second daily.
Scientists Nick Stamatakos of the Earth Orientate Parameters at the US Naval Observatory attested to this phenomenon by stating that: “The real simple explanation is the Earth is slowing down a little bit.”
“For that day there’ll be 86,401 seconds, instead of 86,400 seconds,” he added.
Not its first time
While we might find this surprising, it is not the first time that the Earth has displayed this feature. It happened back in 2012 and in 1972. However, the records of the previous instances of the lead second were not done properly because of slight ‘glitch’ in the systems of atomic clocks: the software could not handle the extra second phenomenon and the Network Time Protocol used by computers to sync up with the atomic clocks would assume that something has gone wrong when the extra second ticks and would ‘rectify’ the ‘problem’.
Extra second: object of worry?
Some experts are concerned lest the Greenwich Mean Time is forever ruined. They argue that having a leap minute or hour added to global time would not be possible.
Some wish to get rid of the leap seconds because of the ‘disruptions’ they would cause. Yet others prefer that the Earth’s movement (rotation) remains in perfect harmony with the atomic clock. Whether the two are kept in sync or not, we are going to have this extra second this year. Time is relative, they say, what difference would an extra second make? Well, nothing happens without a reason, right? The extra second cannot be without purpose. Let us wait and watch.