Leap second – How 2015 Gives You An Extra Second To Live?

Time is an indefinite concept; an illusion of multiple dimensions. The only purpose of our quest for knowledge is to interpret and understand the beginning of time or the events that precede its dawn.

Thus in some way, time is an entity that becomes the hindmost juncture of our understanding of the origin and life of our universe, and ironically, it is also one of the least understood concepts, that in combination with space form the framework of the universe’s architecture.

Time, as like space, has no boundaries and continues to expand, which we say that our universe is expanding.  What if the time stops for a split second? It can be disastrous for our survival. Yet this is bound to happen a couple of days later i.e. on June 30, 2015.

The human race will be adding an extra second to their worldly clocks to compensate for the loss and catch up with the astronomical time sphere. The second that is being added is known as the leap second.

Contextually, this idea of leap second is similar to the fashion that we add a day in the leap year, once in every four years. Normally, one year is the time taken by our planet to go around the sun and this adds up to 365 days 6 hours 9 minutes and 9.76 seconds or 365.25 days, approximately.

As we cannot afford to lose one day in every four years, we add one day to the leap year to compensate the loss incurred in the previous three years.  Similarly, 24 hours is the time taken by the planet to complete one full circle of rotation and we call it a day.

But this cannot be accurately 24 hours as the earth frequently slows up in its axis of rotation due to the lunar pull and other natural disasters occurring on earth like earthquakes. Thus our worldly clocks (atomic clocks) may end up moving well ahead of the astronomical duration of 24 hours. 

In simpler terms, even when the earth slows down, our worldly clocks are automated to run not in accordance with the earth’s rotation and thus our clocks keep on running at their own pace even when the earth slows down a bit intermittently. This slowing down will be in terms of fractions of milliseconds that are very hard to measure.

But if we keep on adding up seconds after seconds to our clocks in the all forthcoming days, one day we may pile up a huge time difference of hours or even days than from the astronomical time frame. Hence corrections are to be made to our atomic clocks, as we don’t have the power to change the pace of earth’s rotation.

So, this extra second will be added on 30th June 2015 at 23:59:59 UTC or 19:59:59 ET. In other words this second will be repeated twice.

Generally, this is be done by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) on the recommendations made by the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service, which closely observes the movement of our planet.

ITU has the final say in making the decision of changing our clocks.  This addition of a second in 2015 will be the 25th time that we add leap seconds to our atomic clocks, since the inclusion of the first leap second in 1972. 

When the concept of leap second was introduced in 1972, our worldly clocks were out of sync with the astronomical time by 10 seconds and hence those many numbers of seconds were added back then. 

The addition of leap seconds doesn’t happen without any cost. When a leap second was added in 2012, Mozilla, Reddit, LinkedIn and Gawker Media experienced technical glitches bringing them down, as the operating systems could get confused and fail to accommodate this addition of a second properly.

The next immediate addition of leap second is also feared by experts to bring chaos to the internet world.

On the other hand, this leap second can be an addition or omission of one or more seconds depending upon the speed of rotation of earth. But so far the instances have been only addition of seconds.

Also, it have been added only either on June 30 or December 31.  But the rigorousness in making changes to the atomic clocks have made people think of giving up the concept of leap second.

It may result in only a difference of a minute or two from the astronomical time over a hundred years, says Judah Levine, a physicist at the NIST, National Institute of Standards and Technology. 

Yet it has been continuing to happen. We all hope that it never stops, as it is always good to keep up with time, even though it is inexplicable.

Image Source: qz.com

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