The International Reference Systems Service and Earth Rotation (IERS), responsible for keeping time reference standards, announced that 2016 will have an extra second.
Called leap second , it is added to make small changes in the Earth’s rotation. As the rotation of our planet grows infinitesimally slower clocks are not perfectly adjusted. The leap second is an attempt to leave everything on track and make sure that our ultraprecisos atomic clocks work perfectly.
You must notify well in advance because, as the current technological systems assume that every minute has 60 seconds, they can be confused with an extra second – it made some sites leave the air in 2012. In 2015, however. Were more prepared .
Sure, it’s just a second, and you do not even notice if the IERS not warn. But if we let those seconds go, we could create a snowball. The addition of leap seconds began in 1972 – and at that time the delay was so great that they needed to add 10 seconds at a time .
Since then, the IERS has the added whenever necessary to prevent these more radical changes. Leap seconds have been added four other times in recent years – in 2005, 2008, 2012 and 2015 . So remember, we have a second longer at the last minute in 2016.