Tuesday, 09 Dec, 2008 Science

Timekeepers Extend 2008 by a Second


World's timekeepers decided to prolong this year by adding one leap second to the last day of December. Scientists found that our planet slows down, which is why timekeepers came to a conclusion to add an extra second to the atomic clock so to keep in sync with the planet's slowing rotation.

The additional second will be added on December 31 after 6:59:59 p.m. and before 7 p.m. EST. With 29 days in February the extra second will make the year 2008 the longest since 1992.

The decision to prolong the time by a second was made by the international consortium of timekeepers. Geoff Chester, spokesman for the Washington-based U.S. Naval Observatory, which is responsible for 1/3rd of the world's atomic clocks, stated that digital technology along with international commerce depend a lot on high accuracy.

A lot of cell phones providers along with computer operating systems update their time in accordance with the atomic clock. It is worth mentioning that for the first time leap seconds were added in 1972. The leap second that will be added this year is the first since December 31, 2005. The year 2008 is the fourth to include a leap day together with a leap second.

Experts working at the Naval Observatory have a party at 6:59:60 p.m.

"We watch the clock and make sure nothing breaks. It's an early New Year's celebration," mentioned Geoff Chester.

Additional information on the topic can be found at the official website of the U.S. Naval Observatory: http://tycho.usno.navy.mil/leapsec.html

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