Lifestyle & Belief

June 30 will be longer by one second


Two visitors look at the atomic clock timescale at the US Naval Observatory in Washington D.C.


Michael Smith

We're getting a leap second, ladies and gentlemen: June 30 will be longer by one whole second this year, CNET reported

The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service — an organization responsible for monitoring the Earth's orientation and issuing leap seconds — will add the extra blip of time to Coordinated Universal Time at the end of the last day of the month. 

But why? 

Well, though we used to keep time by the earth's rotation, the 1950s brought the introduction of the much-more-accurate atomic clock, technology so precise that some gain or lose no more than a fraction of a second once every 100 million years, Business Insider reported.  

More from GlobalPost: Leap Day 2012: Leap year proposals, an Irish tradition?

The earth, unfortunately, is not as accurate: some days ending up being a tiny bit longer or shorter than others depending on its rotation, according to Business Insider.

"If we lived on atomic time it’d very slowly gravitate away from the Earth’s actual time," Wired UK's Mark Brown explains. "In a few years we’d be a second out of sync, in hundreds of years we’d be a minute out and after several hundred thousand years we could be eating lunch in the middle of the night." 

The added second won't throw the average global citizen off (unless you really need an extra second of sleep), but "people running complicated infrastructure like telecommunications, GPS, air traffic control and the internet are going to have a headache getting everything back in sync," according to Wired. 

The world hasn't gained a second since December 2008, The Age reported. Though leap seconds occur at irregular intervals, they happen every 18 months on average.

More from GlobalPost: Apocalypse could be minutes nearer if Doomsday Clock goes forward