2016 Will Have An Extra Leap Second

Posted: Dec 29 2016, 4:46am CST | by , Updated: Dec 29 2016, 5:45am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

An Extra Leap Second will be Added to 2016 on December 31
On December 31, 2016, a "leap second" will be added to the world's clocks at 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). This corresponds to 6:59:59 pm Eastern Standard Time, when the extra second will be inserted at the U.S. Naval Observatory's Master Clock Facility in Washington, DC. Credit: Getty Images
  • 2016 Will Be One Second Longer
  • An Extra Leap Second will be Added to 2016 on December 31
 

Scientists want us to behold the addition of an extra second to the present year on December 31st.

What can only be called a leap second will be added to the world time clock on December 31st, 2016. This extra leap second will be added to the world's clocks at 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

This corresponds to 6:59:59 pm Eastern Standard Time, when the extra second will be inserted at the U.S. Naval Observatory's Master Clock Facility in Washington, DC. Seen from a historical angle, time has always been dependent upon the mean rotation of the earth relative to the other heavenly bodies.

The basic unit of time which is the second is based on this reference framework. With the arrival of atomic clocks, an extremely precise atomic time scale was set up. The second thus became independent of the earth’s rotation. 

In the 70s, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) was brought into synch with UT1. The latter is a measure of the earth’s rotation angle in space. The difference between UTC and UT1 and the addition of leap seconds in the latter was decided upon too.

These seconds could be put in the time scale or taken out. The aim is keeping the two time scales within 0.9 seconds of each other. To create UTC, another time scale called International Atomic Time (TAI) is formulated. This is essentially UTC without any leap seconds thrown in. 

In 1972, the difference between TAI and UTC was 10 seconds. Since that year, 26 additional leap seconds have been added to the time scale. These seconds are added at intervals ranging from half a year to seven year periods.

The most recent was added on June 30th, 2015. After the insertion of the leap second on December 31st, 2016, the difference will be 37 seconds.

There is some confusion in the public perception of how these leap seconds operate in the whole scheme of things. Many believe that the earth’s rotation is slowing down whereas no such thing is happening.

It is a complex series of calculations and observations that have to be gone through before the measurements of the time scale are completed for the sake of science.

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