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New Year to arrive late, by a second
All would-be revelers should be careful with their countdowns this New Year’s Eve as scientists have decided to add a “leap second” to the universal clock at the end of December, delaying the arrival of 2017 by a second.
The leap second will be added in order to bring the world’s atomic clocks in sync with Earth’s own distinctive rhythm, which is determined by the planet’s rotation. The International Earth Rotation & Reference Systems Service (IERS) confirmed in a statement that it would be necessary to introduce an additional second at the end of this year.
Our massive Earth is rotating at a very high speed but it still “brakes” because of ocean tides, which decelerate the planet. As per scientists’ estimates, our planet decelerates 2 milliseconds per day per century.
Peter Whibberley, a researcher with the U.K.’s National Physical Laboratory, said, “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.”
Time setters will add the “leap second” to the universal clock at 6:59:59 p.m. Eastern time on 31st of Dec., delaying 2017’s arrival by a second.
This will not be the first time when a leap second will be added to the universal clock. Since the year of 1971, a leap second has been added typically every 2-3 years, and the latest leap second was added in June 2015.
A report published by U.S. News informed, "Currently our planet takes roughly 86,400.00183 seconds (on average) to turn, instead of the expected 86,400 seconds you get by multiplying 24 hours by 60 minutes by 60 seconds. This may not sound like a great difference, but it amounts to a full second every 18 months. If left unchecked, it would become noticeable over time, and ultimately become problematic."
NPL senior research scientist Peter Whibberley said: "Atomic clocks are more than a million times better at keeping time than the rotation of the Earth, which fluctuates unpredictably."
The U.S. Naval Observatory is charged with the responsibility for the precise determination and dissemination of time for the Department of Defense and maintains DoD’s Master Clock. The U.S. Naval Observatory, together with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), determines time for the United States. Modern electronic navigation and communications systems depend increasingly on the dissemination of precise time through such mechanisms as the Internet-based Network Time Protocol (NTP) and the satellite-based Global Positioning System (GPS).