Software engineers and timekeepers rejoice as the world votes to end the leap second

Something small: Last week, an international coalition of scientists and government agencies voted to end Great Leap II in favor of standards organizations and the technology industry. France’s International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) were just two of the measurement bodies that took part in the vote.

The atomic clock was introduced in 1967 as an accurate measure of the passage of time. It uses the vibrations of radioactive atoms precise Up to 1/15th of a billionth of a second per year, depending on the element used. Unfortunately, the Earth’s rotation is not so much constant as it is changing and decaying.

So in 1972, timekeeping authorities introduced the leap second to keep Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and the standard day/night cycle in sync. It was an adjustment that required the devices to add about one second every 21 months. It seemed like a simple enough solution at the time, but it almost immediately proved to be a problem for computer programmers and the broader technology industry right out of the gate – a problem that persisted into the new century.

In 2012, a leap second error occurred get down Many sites, including Reddit, Mozilla, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, and more. In 2017, Cloudflare had a DNS obfuscation it causes Precisely at midnight on January 1st when the second leap started that year. This year, Meta wrote a lengthy argument about why this should be the case give up time adjustment.

Unlike a leap year (technically a leap day), which adds a day every four years, always ending on February 29 instead of the 28, leap seconds are much less predictable. While the proposed adjustment is about every 21 months, the actual changes depend on Earth’s irregular rotation. Since 1 second is a small increment in time, it is difficult to say when the synchronization will occur when the target year is reached. It’s like trying to accurately hit a dart board when the distance to it is constantly changing.

At the turn of the 21st century, time organizers began to realize that changes in time could negatively affect computers and software designed to handle fixed time. It’s hard to say whether these thoughts were triggered by the horror of 2000, but it seems plausible.

They all agreed that something had to be done, but no one could come up with a good solution. It took more than two decades of discussion between the entities involved to decide to simply end the leap second. However, Resolution D will not take effect immediately or continue indefinitely. The rule goes into effect in 2035 and will remain in effect until 2135.

The International Telecommunication Union, which is responsible for transmitting UTC, has yet to vote on its approval at the World Radiocommunication Conference in Dubai next year. However, it is considered a formality because the negotiations between the International Bureau of Weights and Measures and the International Telecommunication Union have, so far, proven to be favorable, which indicates that they are in line with the change.

The New York Times, noted that many in the standards community were with a great happiness With a near-unanimous decision.

“unbelievable!” said Patricia Tavela, director of the time department at BIPM in France. “More than 20 years of discussion and now a great agreement. [I] He was moved to tears.”

“It feels like a historic day,” said Elizabeth Donnelly, chief of time and frequency at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. [in France]. “

Russia and Belarus were the only two countries not to vote to pass Resolution D. Belarus abstained, while Russia cited complexities involving GLONASS – the Global Positioning Satellite System. They are hard coded to automatically calculate leap seconds.

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