Tomorrow’s Leap Second

On Tuesday, June 30, world atomic clocks will be a adjusted by a single second at 7:59 p.m. ET to take into account changes in Earth’s rotation. Although many people do not even realize that a leap second exists, let alone that scientists are actually adjusting for it, the change could have a serious impact on their lives.

Some computer operating systems experience glitches during leap years. That is something Brian Bonar has noticed during his time. The same is true when some operating systems deal with leap seconds: In 2012, Internet users noticed a lot of sites were suddenly unavailable. They eventually learned that the sites went down because of leap second issues.

As a result, there has been a lot of opposition to the leap second change in the last few years. Even scientists who would normally support precise measurements like those gained by the leap second are now arguing that the computer issues make the change too much of a hassle.

After all, humans survived successfully for millions of years without even having precise 24-hour clocks. Members of communities around the world still do not use 24-hour clocks and would likely find the idea of a leap second hilarious given that Tuesday’s change has no noticeable impact on life except for in astronomy studies. Some argue that scientists in that field could easily make leap second adjustments in their personal calculations without forcing computer and Internet chaos on the world.

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