Leap Second Will Extend Final Minute of 2016

Counting down to 2017 will take longer than usual this New Year's Eve as clock experts compensate for a slowdown in the Earth's rotation.

Brad Plumer and Joseph Stromberg of Vox said that while the leap second may be meddlesome for those atomic clocks, those with average tickers will not have to do a thing.

After all, even if the difference between astronomical time and atomic time grew by one second every year, in 100 years the gap would be only less than two minutes. But 50 years ago, the world's official timekeepers switched to a more standard measurement: the amount of time it takes for a single atom of cesium to vibrate, Blaine Friedlander reports for The Washington Post.

In the 1800s, a day was defined as 86,400 seconds; today it is around 86,400.002 seconds. Experts say the moon's gravitational forces and warmer, denser waters from El Nino are among the reasons it's taking Earth fractionally longer to circle on its axis each day. The modification is due to atomic clocks bringing in more precision in how we determine time.

Since 1972, when the first leap second occurred, 26 tics have been added. Historically, the time was measured based on the mean rotation of the earth relative to celestial bodies, explained Geoff Chester, U.S. Naval Observatory public affairs officer. In simple terms, after 11:59:59 pm on December 31, 2016, time on the clock will tick to 11:59:60 and then 12:00:00. In 2012, affected servers halted when they failed to properly accommodate the leap second that was added to the world's atomic clocks. The leap seconds are being added since 1972 when needed to keep the difference between the two systems minimum. It was a leap year, with an additional day added in February.

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Just what we need. more 2016..

The last time when an extra second "leap second" was added was on July 1, 2015.

That's because the extra second can be a nightmare for communication networks, financial systems and other applications that rely on precise timing, so they need to be programmed into computers to prevent mistakes.

Technically, the institution based in London can also remove a second, though this has never happened.