Every four years, we add a leap day to compensate for the fact that the Earth takes a little longer than a calendar year to make a complete orbit around the sun. Without them, we’d eventually have snow in the middle of June.
Well, to compensate for an unexpected slowdown in the Earth’s rotation this year, scientists have decided to add an extra second to 2016 to help keep us in sync.
The National Physical Laboratory in the United Kingdom uses an atomic clock to provide a stable and continuous timescale for the world’s less accurate clocks to follow. And they need to add the extra second to the New Year’s countdown because standard time is currently lagging behind atomic clocks.
So as the clocks strike midnight tomorrow, they’ll show a time of 23:59:60 at the very end, delaying 2017 for a second.
NPL senior research scientist Peter Whibberley explained:
“Atomic clocks are more than a million times better at keeping time than the rotation of the Earth, which fluctuates unpredictably.”
“Leap seconds are needed to prevent civil time drifting away from Earth time.”
“Although the drift is small – taking around 1,000 years to accumulate a one-hour difference – if not corrected it would eventually result in clocks showing midday before sunrise.”
The problem? 2016 has been kind of a terrible year, so people aren’t too happy about having to sit through another second it.
What are going to be doing with your #LeapSecond? I’ll be screaming
— Jake Yapp (@jakeyapp) December 30, 2016
Wow…there’s a a LEAP SECOND for 2016, this year is a second extra. 2016 just doesn’t want to end when it really needs to.
— Nipah ♥ ikkicon (@NipahDUBS) December 29, 2016
As if this year wasn’t bad enough, we have to have a leap day and a leap second too
New Year delayed by one second – https://t.co/ON109MzfLd
— Jordecember ?? (@JordiBritton) December 30, 2016
So 2016 will be longer by a leap second. Tragedies are currently competing to see which will strike first before the year ends
— @MesutOzil1088 (@_C_hacha) December 30, 2016
— John בָּרוּךְ (@gavroche) December 30, 2016
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