Scientists don’t want to count leap seconds, so they’re getting carried away


If your dog barked at the moon the other day or you saw two very similar cats walking one after the other, it probably had something to do with leap seconds. or not.

A global federation of scientists and government officials voted on Friday to stop the rotation of the proverbial little knob that tracks leap seconds, those time-minutes sometimes entered to account for our planet’s uneven rotation.

Since we don’t have a Superman available to spin the planet as we please, the Earth sometimes shifts and rocks like a drunk guy doing a field sobriety test out of his car. This slight fluctuation in symmetry just barely slows down the Earth’s rotation enough that the days are slightly longer than we have in the books.

In 1972, the leap second came into being, as a way to balance Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) approximately every 21 months. This isn’t a change anyone would necessarily feel like (except for Dr. Manhattan), but what it did do was stay in the tech companies’ crawl, since the inconsistent format confused the markup that was created with the assumption of exact timekeeping.

Issues piled up. Reddit briefly crashed in 2012 due to a leap second, Cloudfare blamed the poor leap second for its DNS going down in 2017 on New Year’s Day, and more recently Meta I published an article Calls for leap seconds to give heave-ho.

The International Bureau of Weights and Measures appears to have agreed at their possible meeting in Versailles, France. Leap seconds have been advised that between the year 2035 until at least 2135 (on Wednesday, perhaps), UTC will no longer be calculating leap seconds, the idea being that by then scientists will have found a better way to fix the discrepancies.

That’s right, an official timekeeping organization basically said, “We’ll deal with that later.”

source: The New York Times

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