So what would you do if your had an extra second? Today, Tuesday, June 30, 2015 is yet another Leap Second Day.
Yep, I said "another" because since 1972 there have been 25 leap seconds added to Coordinated Universal Time just to keep time, well, timely.
What is a Leap Second?
Because the Earth's rotation is gradually slowing, every few years we have to add an extra second to our time-keeping so that the sun and our clocks remain in sync. Basically you can blame all this leap second stuff on the moon and tidal friction. Nice job luna for slowing us down!
Today is going to feel to just a tiny bit longer because exactly one second will be added to your life at 7:59:60 -- just before 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. In theory, one rotation of the Earth should take 86,400 seconds to rotate each day, but, in reality, it averages closer to 86,400.002 seconds. Funny thing is that none of this mattered before watches, computers and the fact that our clocks are set to atomic time. Atomic clocks are extremely accurate; in fact more accurate than the rotation of the Earth and that's why things get all out of sync. If such hyper-acurate time-keeping and the slowing Earth spin were allowed to continue un-checked, NASA says they would differ by 25 minutes in 500 years. Apparently the Earth has a poor sense of timing.
The extra second has been known to negatively impact computer system and websites. How about the last time leap second happened in 2012, that single second hicup took down some of the Internet! Reddit, Foursquare, Yelp and LinkedIn all reported problems. There were also problems with computer systems running the both Linux and Java. With that, Google has mitigated potential problems and built in a smart update, which it calls "leap smear." Google modified its servers so that they would add a bitty bit of extra time every time they were updated, so that by the actual time of the leap second they were appropriately caught up with the new time. Leave it to Google!
So what do you think Pittsburgh... What will you do with your extra second?