2016 leap second

If you are living in the UK, your 2017 New Year countdown will have to add 1 more second. This is because the International Earth Rotation and Reference System Service (IERS) has introduced a leap second at 23:59:60 (UTC) on December 31, 2016. The rest of the world will also be adding the extra 1 second at that same moment. For Singapore, we will be adding the extra 1 second on 1 Jan 2017, 07:59:60.

This will be the 27th time a leap second is added to the clock. The last leap second happened on 30 June 2015. The last time a leap second happen on New Year Eve was in 2008. The leap second is added to compensate for the slowing in the Earth rotation.

While adding an additional second to the clock might seem harmless, it might actually cause computer bugs. That’s because during the leap second, some computer clock shows 60 seconds instead of simply rolling over to the next minute. Others shows the 59th second twice. This causes some computer to register it as an error.

Google came up with an interesting solution to this problem. Instead of adding the leap second, the company add a couple of milliseconds to their server over a period of time. This slowly adds up to 1 second without causing any issue. They call this method the “leap smear“.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

CommentLuv badge