Leap Second: Scientists say measurement of time is changing!

Inventions 18 Feb 2021 Contributor
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leap second

Remember how Abbajan used to teach time measurements? We learnt at a very small age that 1 day = 24 hours, 1 hour = 60 minutes and 1 minutes = 60 seconds. He also talked about some philosophies like if you want to achieve something in life, you need to respect the time. However, now this whole concept of time is going to change it seems.

Scientists have found that the time for a full-day which is 24 hours, is decreasing by a leap second and now the value of 1 minute may decrease to 59 seconds!

How do we get 24 hours in a day?

The rotation and revolution of the Earth create the magic of 24 hours. The earth revolves around the sun in 1 year i.e., 365 days. On the other hand, while revolving around the sun, the earth spins around its axis just as a top of a spin. This movement is called the rotation of the earth. It takes 24 hours to complete a full rotation. And taking into consideration this time, a full day is supposed to have 24 hours.

How this time of a full day is decreasing?

The earth takes 24 hours to do a full spin at a certain speed. Generally, if this speed varies, the time is taken for the spin also varies. As per the senior scientist of the National Physical Laboratory Prof. Peter Wibberley, “The earth is spinning faster than at any time in the last 50 years and we are certain about it.”

Now, in simple mathematics, if the rate of the rotation increases. The time which is taken decreases. Scientists have observed that the shortest day of 2020 has beaten the shortest day of 2005 by 28 times. According to their calculation 2021 is going to be 19 milliseconds shorter than the average year. This, in turn, means that the days will be shorter by 0.5 milliseconds. They have argued for the inclusion of ‘negative leap second’ in the calculation of 1 minute.

What is leap second and how it is applied?

Though we take 1 year as the aggregate of 365 days, we know from our school days that the earth takes 365 days and 6 hours for a complete revolution. Every four years, this extra six-hour is compensated by adding 1 full day in February and the year is called a leap year.

With the advancement in atomic clocks in the ’60s, the concept of leap second is introduced to balance the rotational movement. Taking the inclusion of a positive leap second for the last time in 2016, there has been an addition of a leap second about 27 times.

But now as the earth is spinning faster, researchers have been arguing to include a negative leap second. Scientist Peter Wibberley says, “A negative leap second may be needed if the earth keeps rotating faster, but at the same time it’s too early to comment on that.”

What are the effects of a leap second?

All the websites are secured with a legit time stamp worldwide. Remembering the inclusion of leap second in 2012, it crashed big websites like Reddit, LinkedIn, Yelp, etc and even it introduced bugs in OS like Linux. The International Earth Rotation and References System Service is the responsible institute for the inclusion of leap second. They and other international bodies have observed the inclusion of positive or negative leap second creates confusion and hazards. Many world leaders have considered not to add leap second rather keep their trust in the atomic clock. All eyes are now on the World Radiocommunication Conference to be held in 2023 to have a final verdict on this.