Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists help create an extra second of summer: Leap second to be added on July 1, 2012

Date:
June 29, 2012
Source:
National Physical Laboratory
Summary:
Scientists will be adding a leap second at 00:59 BST on July 1 to its atomic clocks, to ensure UK time remains synchronized with international time.

Scientists at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) will be adding a leap second at 00:59 BST on 1st July to its atomic clocks.
Credit: © CLUC / Fotolia

Scientists at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) will be adding a leap second at 00:59 BST on 1st July to its atomic clocks, to ensure UK time remains synchronized with international time.

The insertion of the leap second is required as Earth does not rotate at a constant speed, whereas atomic clocks, several of which are located at NPL's site in Teddington, are much better at keeping time. Due to the unpredictable nature of Earth's movement, leap seconds are occasionally required to bring atomic time back into alignment with astronomical time. This procedure ensures that on average the Sun remains overhead at noon.

Peter Whibberley, Senior Research Scientist in NPL's Time and Frequency Group, said: "The purpose of leap seconds is to make sure our time scale based on atomic clocks remains in step with the time based on the Earth's rotation. The Earth is a poor timekeeper compared to our clocks, and its rotation changes unpredictably due to changes in its atmosphere and molten core. The leap second correction to our atomic clocks means we get an extra second of summer time."

Historically, time was measured using the passage of the Sun across the sky -- Earth rotation time is still used by astronomers to track stars and spacecraft. Since the start of the 1960s, an atomic time scale, known as Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), has been the world's official time. The stability and global availability of UTC are essential for the smooth operations of satellite navigation and international telecommunications.

Over the last decade there has been considerable debate about the detrimental effects of inserting a leap second on computers and other equipment needing precise time. One minor effect is that some systems fail to implement a leap second at the correct instant and display an inaccurate time, but there is no agreement on the seriousness of this and other problems attributed to leap seconds.

The decision to introduce this year's leap second was taken by the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS), and timekeeping experts at NPL and other national timing centres will make the necessary changes to the atomic time scales on 00:00 30th June (UTC).

The future of the leap second is one of keen debate among the official international time measurement community. Some countries, including the US, have called for an end to leap seconds, but other countries disagree, and experts at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) have delayed a decision on the future of the leap second until 2015.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Physical Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Physical Laboratory. "Scientists help create an extra second of summer: Leap second to be added on July 1, 2012." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 June 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120629142607.htm>.
National Physical Laboratory. (2012, June 29). Scientists help create an extra second of summer: Leap second to be added on July 1, 2012. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120629142607.htm
National Physical Laboratory. "Scientists help create an extra second of summer: Leap second to be added on July 1, 2012." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120629142607.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) — Accompanied by drumbeats, wearing costumes and carrying signs, thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Manhattan and other cities around the world on Sunday to urge policy makers to take action on climate change. (Sept. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
What This MIT Sensor Could Mean For The Future Of Robotics

What This MIT Sensor Could Mean For The Future Of Robotics

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) — MIT researchers developed a light-based sensor that gives robots 100 times the sensitivity of a human finger, allowing for "unprecedented dexterity." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — The MIT BioSuit could be an alternative to big, bulky traditional spacesuits, but the concept needs some work. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) — Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

More Coverage


NASA Explains Why Clocks Will Get an Extra Second on June 30

June 29, 2012 — If the day seems a little longer than usual on Saturday, June 30, 2012, that's because it will be. An extra second, or "leap" second, will be added at midnight to account for the fact ... read more
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins