Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Israeli strikes on Gaza as seen on social media

Read more

DEBATE

Africa's Newest Failed State: How to Stop Civil War and Famine in South Sudan? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Israel and the Palestinians: How to Break the Cycle of Violence?

Read more

DEBATE

Africa's Newest Failed State: How to Stop Civil War and Famine in South Sudan?

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Somalia : Al Shebab attack on presidential palace

Read more

FOCUS

Sharia law to be enshrined in British legal system?

Read more

ENCORE!

How a comedy dud became one of France's biggest box office hits

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Kenya: Clashes at anti-government rally in Nairobi

Read more

WEB NEWS

ISIS leader challenged over expensive-looking wristwatch

Read more

  • Argentina beat the Netherlands on penalties to reach World Cup final

    Read more

  • Foiled French jihadist ‘targeted Louvre and Eiffel Tower’

    Read more

  • Obama in Texas to urge action on child migrant crisis

    Read more

  • Iraq’s heritage 'in danger' from ISIS militants

    Read more

  • Froome crashes out of Tour de France

    Read more

  • South Sudan independence heroes ‘have lost their way’

    Read more

  • Dozens of blindfolded bodies found south of Baghdad

    Read more

  • Israel pummels Gaza in retaliation for Hamas rocket attacks

    Read more

  • Alps Murder wife had ex-husband who died on same day

    Read more

  • Both candidates say they won Indonesian presidential election

    Read more

  • Brazil players should never wear 'sacred uniform' again, press says

    Read more

  • Exiled Syrian opposition elects new president

    Read more

  • China’s first Tour de France cyclist chases his dream

    Read more

  • Ukraine imposes new conditions on peace talks with pro-Russia rebels

    Read more

  • Sarkozy's UMP party 'almost €80 million in debt'

    Read more

  • Typhoon Neoguri turns deadly as it batters Japanese islands

    Read more

Time will stand still for one second

©

Latest update : 2008-12-31

The world's official timekeeper has decided to add an extra second to the year 2008, one second before midnight GMT tonight, in order to adjust our clocks to solar time. Time will therefore stand still for exactly one second.

AFP - Eager to see the back end of 2008? Be forewarned: the world's official timekeeper has decided to prolong the year -- by one full second, to be precise.

Which means a Champagne-soaked countdown to 2009 something like this: "...THREE, TWO, ONE-AND-A-HALF, ONE... Happy New Year!"

The extra second was mandated by the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS) in Paris, and is not to be taken lightly.

Satellites that orbit at speeds calculated in kilometres (miles) per second, the Internet, global positioning systems -- all depend on knowing exactly what time it is.

IERS head Daniel Gambis announced the time-stretching measure in July in a letter addressed to "authorities responsible for the measurement and distribution of time".

That would be the white-robed guardians of the 200-odd ultra-accurate atomic clocks scattered in national time temples around the globe.

"The last adjustment dates to 2005, and the next could happen in 2012 or 2013," Gambis told AFP.

Leap days occur once every four years because it takes 365 days plus six hours for our planet to complete an orbit around the Sun.

But leap seconds are added strictly on a case-by-case basis, depending on need. This year's will be the 24th bonus second since the practice was initiated in 1972.

The sleight-of-clock is necessary to reconcile two different time scales.

One is established by the atomic time pieces, which are accurate to billionth of a second per day.

The other is based on Earth's imperfect rotation on its own axis.

The two get out of sync because the planet's spin is affected by a host of slightly fluctuating variables, including solar and lunar gravity, the movement of the tides, solar wind, space dust and magnetic storms.

Even global warming has gotten into the act because melting ice caps have an impact too.

And so, at exactly 23:59:59 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) -- or Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), to the scientifically literate -- on December 31, the world's clocks will add a beat to their metronomic tick tick tock.

Date created : 2008-12-31

Comments

COMMENT(S)