The last minute of June 30:2015 will have 61 seconds

Scientists have ruled that the year 2015 will be one second longer to compensate for the slowing of the rotation of the Earth.

But it is feared that this ‘leap second’ added at midday on June 30 could trigger devastating crashes across the internet.

The extra second is needed because the Earth’s rotation is gradually slowing down by around two thousandths of a second per day and needs to catch up with atomic time.

The Paris Observatory says 30 June 2015 will be a second longer. An extra second will be added at 11:59:60pm UTC to sync up clocks (stock image shown). This is to account for discrepancy between Earth time and atomic time. It is the 26th leap second to be added since 1972

The Paris Observatory says 30 June 2015 will be a second longer. An extra second will be added at 11:59:60pm UTC to sync up clocks (stock image shown). This is to account for discrepancy between Earth time and atomic time. It is the 26th leap second to be added since 1972

 

 

The extra unit will be added at 11:59:60pm UTC on 30 June, bringing the total number of seconds for 2015 up to 31,536,001.

In it is the 26th time in history since 1972 that a leap second will have been added. 

The decision to add an extra second year was announced by the Paris Observatory and the International Earth Rotation Service (IERS).

eap seconds are occasionally used to help ‘Earth time’ catch up to ‘atomic time’. The latter is constant but the former is slower by about two thousands of a second per day.

WHY IS EARTH’S ROTATION SLOWING?

Of the daily sum of 86,400 seconds measured by atomic clocks, Earth rotates about 0.002 seconds slower.

This is due to the discrepancy between atomic time and the mathematically calculated time of Earth’s date.

However, Earth’s rotation is also getting slower, on the order of a millisecond or so every century.

It’s thought that, four billion years ago, a day on the planet lasted just 22 hours.

This is mostly due to the tidal pull from the moon, which is very slightly slowing the rotation of Earth.

To keep them in sync, it is necessary to occasionally jump Earth’s time back – for mathematical reasons similar to adding leap years.

The decision to do so is made every time Earth time is slower by about half a second, making it about half a second quicker instead.

However, adding a second can have rather disastrous effects on various internet systems.

In 2012 a problem was caused when subsystems got confused by the time change and caused hyperactivity on certain servers.

Many companies including Reddit, Yelp and LinkedIn reported crashes as their systems struggled to cope with the change.

While precautions have been taken to cope with the change this time, it is often a lesser known subsystem that succumbs to the changed time.

This time around some websites could go offline if a glitch in their systems is unearthed.

To alleviate the problem some companies, such as Google, add fractions of a second over the preceding year so that they don’t need to make a sudden jump – known as a ‘leap smear’.

Time lords in France declare 2015 will be one second longer… sparking fears of an internet meltdown at midnight on 30 June

  • The Paris Observatory says 30 June 2015 will be a second longer
  • An extra second will be added at 11:59:60pm UTC to sync up clocks
  • This is to account for discrepancy between Earth time and atomic time
  • It is the 26th leap second to be added since 1972
  • But it might be the last, as some countries want to scrap the practice
  • The last leap second in 2012 caused problems for some internet companies when their systems failed to cope with the change 

2015 will get an extra second, but is the Internet ready?

But it is feared that this ‘leap second’ added at midday on June 30 could trigger devastating crashes across the internet.
The extra second is needed because the Earth’s rotation is gradually slowing down by around two thousandths of a second per day and needs to catch up with atomic time.

The Earth’s rotation, like a spinning top, is affected by many gigantic forces including earthquakes, tidal pulls and even weather. These can cause unpredictable changes in the rotation speed which is what our ‘time’ is linked to. The IERS tracks this, adds up bits of extra time segments and issues six-monthly bulletins to warn of any impending changes. This year’s leap second will be the 26 thadded since 1972.

While such minuscule changes in time have hardly affected normal human lives till now, in this age of the computer and Internet even a second may become stunningly important. This was demonstrated in 2012 the last time a second was added to the world time. Several websites like Foursquare, Reddit, LinkedIn, and StumbledUpon suffered glitches as the extra second got added because their clocks couldn’t figure out what happened.

Global IT giants are already preparing for this year’s leap second. Google has devised a method called “leap smear” to get around the leap second problem. This strategy involved adding very small bits of time, adding up to one second, spread over a longer period rather than adding a full second at one go. In a blog post in 2011, Google’s reliability engineer Christopher Pascoe had explained this:

“We modified our internal NTP servers to gradually add a couple of milliseconds to every update, varying over a time window before the moment when the leap second actually happens. This meant that when it became time to add an extra second at midnight, our clocks had already taken this into account, by skewing the time over the course of the day. All of our servers were then able to continue as normal with the new year, blissfully unaware that a leap second had just occurred.

While Google, with its vast resources can indulge in this fix, others may find it difficult to handle. So, you may expect some random glitches or outages come July 1.

 

 

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