In the bleak January midwinter, it can feel as if the working week stretches on for much longer than usual. But in 2015 that feeling might actually prove correct due to the fact scientists are planning to add one second to the length of the year.
Experts at the International Earth Rotation Service in Paris added the so-called leap second in order to compensate for the fact the earth’s spin is slowing slightly.
This year will feature the 25th such leap second to be added since scientists at the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service first started calling for them in 1972. These days, though, they’re being added at a slower rate because the Earth’s rotation is a bit faster than it was in the ’70s. Of course, the earth’s rotation was variable even before then, but modern technologies like satellite navigation require a level of precision that makes such adjustments necessary.
Or at least that’s how the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service and some countries feel. Others, including the United States, think adding the seconds is a cumbersome process, especially considering the scale of inaccuracy. If leap seconds were done away with, it’s estimated that it would take over 200 years for our bodies to register even an hour difference in the way the clocks reflect the time of day.
The opposed countries will have to wait for the next potential leap second to contend with the current practice. For now, start thinking about how you can best use the extra time.