Why this New Year’s Eve will be one second longer

3432073260Dubai: This year, time will give us all a second to say goodbye to 2016.

Scientists at the Paris-based International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS) have added an extra second on December 31, to compensate for the slowing of the Earth’s rotation.

According to timekeepers, this means that the world’s clocks will go from 11:59:59 to 11:59:60 before turning to 00:00:00.

n astrophysics, this event is referred to as a leap second.

Hassan Al Hariri, head of Dubai Astronomy Group, told Gulf News that the changes in time are made as a result of natural catastrophes, which end up slowing down the motion of Earth.

“For example, in 2004 there was the tsunami in Indonesia, and that natural disaster slowed down the earth’s rotation by 0.26 seconds in 2015. Also, large hurricanes can affect the momentum of the earth’s motion,” he said.

“This concept is not new and from a lay person’s view, the extra second is equivalent to the click of a mouse. While it will have very minute effects, advanced computer systems will be taking that extra second into consideration,” said Al Hariri.

As leap seconds can pose a threat to computer systems, the IERS – the group responsible for administering international time – typically give a six months’ notice about the time changes, and only places them at the end of December or June.




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