Cyprus Mail

This year will last a second longer than usual

New Year’s Eve is going to be one second longer than usual as a leap second will be added on December 31, Astrophysicist and President of the Astronomical Society of Cyprus Chrysanthos Fakas said on Wednesday.

Instead of our watches changing from 23:59:59 to 00:00:00, they will show 23:59:59, followed by  23:59:60 and only then 00:00:00.

“In major cities around the world where they celebrate the new year in the city centres, the count down will go 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1,0,0 and then the year will change,” Fakas added.

The leap second is added by the international agency which monitors time and oversees the global coordinated time (UTC) because the earth’s rotation rate is reduced year by year due to gravitational interactions with the moon. When the earth’s speed decreases, the rotation time grows in excess of 24 hours, the so-called sidereal time. In other words, the time determined by atomic clocks and the observed rotation of earth become mismatched.

Leap seconds are used to fill in the gap and make earth’s observed speed align with our most accurate clocks.

“If you don’t insert a leap second, eventually time based on those atomic clocks will be out of whack with solar time,” science writer Dan Falk, whose 2008 book ‘In Search of Time’ explores humanity’s relationship with time and our efforts to define and measure the temporal realm, said.

“It’s not a perfect solution. But Aristotle and Heraclitus were arguing about [time] 2,500 years ago, and we’re still arguing about it,” Falk noted.

Since 1972 about 28 seconds have been added.


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