Monday, June 29, 2015

Hang on a second

Owning to the irregular rotation of our planet around the Sun any time measuring system based on some fraction of a calendar year or average day length (UTC - coordinated universal time) is simply not precise enough for modern day electronic devices such as computers and satellite navigation equipment. In 1967 scientists switched from time based on a celestial measurement and started to run super accurate atomic clocks based on the radio-active decay of a caesium atom. However these atomic clocks gradually get out of step with normal celestial based clocks and ever since we decided we can tell the time better than planet Earth, we add an extra second to UTC as needed to keep the two systems in sync. Tomorrow is such a day, clocks will read 11:59:60 before clicking over to 12:00

For those of us in the computer industry, we will be crossing our fingers that nothing untoward happens to our precious servers and systems as the time beacons that they are synchronised to add an extra second to June 30th, it's not the first time this has happened so all should be fine, then again saying something like that is bound to jinx it.

So, what are you going to do with your extra second? I think I'll spend mine snoozing; I'm always grateful for a lie-in.

No comments: