Feeds

2008 goes into one-second overtime

Boffins insert another 'leap second'

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Simon's says quantum computing will work
Boffins blast algorithm with half a dozen qubits
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
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.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.