Leap second lives on - for now

2012-01-20 07:29
Geneva - The leap second may live on for at least another three years.

Once or twice a year, the leap second can be tacked on to synchronise atomic clocks - the world's scientific timekeepers - with the Earth's rotational cycle, which does not run quite like clockwork.

Without the leap second, atomic clocks would diverge about a minute a century from the course of the sun across the sky.

Britain, China, Canada and others have argued to keep it, but the US, France and other nations have pushed to untether machines from the natural cycle because of the technical difficulties and costs to government and business.

Sanjay Acharya, a spokesperson for the International Telecommunication Union, said a decision to abolish the leap second has been put off until next week. He said "it's been deferred" because government delegates at an ITU meeting were unable to reach agreement at talks this week.

The decision about how much the world needs the leap second affects everything from mobile phone networks to financial markets to air traffic control systems, all of which rely on atomic clocks and wouldn't have to momentarily stop their systems.

A Paris-based agency that tracks the globe's irregular wobble sends notice when the world's timekeepers need to add a leap second. That's only done on June 30 and December 31, but sometimes years go by without an adjustment - and there's never been the need to subtract a leap second.

Government delegates now plan to examine the issue at a separate meeting in Geneva next week, but Acharya said they will likely defer any formal decision until 2015.
- SAPA
Read more on:    science
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland
The craziest deaths of 2014
How to make this a sensual, sexy summer!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

At last you are able to see the light. You are able to break through obstacles in an innovative and original way. Visualisation is...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.