Feeds

2008 goes into one-second overtime

Boffins insert another 'leap second'

Security for virtualized datacentres

As if the leap day in February wasn't enough stalling for time, scientists intend to delay the arrival of 2009 by one additional second.

Timekeepers will tack on a "leap second" to the world's clocks December 31, 2008 at 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

The occasional chrono-adjustment is meant to keep the uniform time kept by atomic clocks since 1972 less than 0.9 seconds within the time-scale measured by the Earth's rotation around its axis.

The time discrepancy is due to the planet's spin gradually but surely slowing down, mostly due to tidal friction.

Solar timekeeping became somewhat of an antique when atomic clocks made their debut - measuring time on a more stable basis of the microwave signals electrons emit when they change energy levels. But old habits die hard, and mean solar time (UT1) is still used quite frequently to this day.

Under the International Systems of Units, an atomic time-scale second is defined as "equal to the duration of 9192631770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the cesium 133 atom."

Leap seconds essentially pause UTC so UT1 can catch up.

The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS) is in charge of monitoring the difference between the time-scales, and occasionally adding or removing a second to UTC to keep the two consistent.

Since 1972, there have been 24 leap seconds added to the UTC time scale. Leap seconds are inserted in varying intervals from once every six months (15,778,463 seconds) to seven years (220,898,482 seconds).

The most recent leap second was inserted in December, 2005. We suggest you adjust your New Year's eve plans to compensate for the several million yoctoseconds you'll now have to spare. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST
Speculation rife, but Orbital claims it's too early to tell
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
NASA: Spacecraft crash site FOUND ON MOON RIM
'What fun!' exlaims NASA boffin who found the LADEE
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.