NASA Explains Reason Behind Extra Second For June 30

Posted: Jun 27 2015, 4:58am CDT | by , Updated: Jun 27 2015, 5:08am CDT , in Latest Science News


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NASA Explains Reason Behind Extra Second for June 30
  • NASA Expounds on the Reason Behind June 30th Getting One More Second

NASA expounded recently on the reason behind the fact that June 30th is getting one more second added to it. This is a leap second, a phenomenon similar in nature to a leap year.

On the coming Tuesday, that is June 30th, 2015, the day will be slightly longer than usual. A single second known as a leap second will be added to the duration of the day. What is happening is that the rotation rate of the earth is very imperceptibly slowing down.

So the phenomenon of the addition of the extra second is understandable. This way time is accounted for in a slick and poised manner.

“Earth’s rotation is gradually slowing down a bit, so leap seconds are a way to account for that,” said Daniel MacMillan of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

A normal day contains 86,400 seconds in its time span. Coordinated Universal Time or UTC shows that to be true. The atomic time clock that employs magnetic vibrations in cesium atoms to judge what time it is, is accurate down to the very smallest millionths of a second.

The cesium clock is right down to the last second in 1,400,000 years. However, since the earth’s rotational speed is imperceptibly slowing down, the result is a time lag of sorts.

The time lag amounts to two milliseconds. This is shorter than an eyeblink. And while hardly noticeable in the general scheme of things, the various factors seem to add up over time and the result is a leap second. While most things such as the length of the day remain unpredictable on a daily basis, the odds come out even in the end.

Scientists employ VLBI (Very Long Baseline Interferometry) in measuring the rotational time of the earth. The phenomenon known as a leap second is put into the middle of June 30th or December 31st. And the pinpointed measurements make this a very delicate operation unlike the leap year insertion.

It seems unpredictability is the name of the game. 1972 was the year since which leap seconds have been employed in the time race. And VLBI tracks the short term and long term changes and differences in duration.

Science it seems has taken things a little too far in its quest for accuracy and exactness. There was a time when everyone followed the changing of the seasons as the only basis of time transformation. But now with each second and millisecond being measured the very pleasure of stopping to smell the roses has been left on the wayside.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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