Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

WEB NEWS

'Ice Bucket Challenge' angers anti-abortion activists

Read more

#TECH 24

Tomorrow's Transport Today

Read more

FOCUS

Mothers and children leaving Honduras at all costs

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

US journalist Peter Theo Curtis freed in Syria

Read more

ENCORE!

An art wonderland: A burnt-out piano, a bed in a box and a giant magic mushroom

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Historian Jean Garrigues: 'For the first time, Hollande knows what he is doing'

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

'Macron-economy' pun already worn out

Read more

DEBATE

What Next for Gaza? Lasting Ceasefire Agreed After 50 Days of War

Read more

DEBATE

What Next for Gaza? Lasting Ceasefire Agreed After 50 Days of War (part 2)

Read more

  • UN says 43 peacekeepers captured in Golan Heights

    Read more

  • In pictures: Billions of locusts invade Madagascan capital

    Read more

  • Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie say ‘I do’ in France

    Read more

  • Russian troops have entered Ukraine, says Kiev

    Read more

  • Assad cannot be partner in fight against terrorism, says Hollande

    Read more

  • New Ebola case in Nigeria brings death toll to 1,552

    Read more

  • Video: 'Neither Baghdad nor the US can defeat the Islamic State'

    Read more

  • Platini will not run against Blatter for FIFA presidency

    Read more

  • Air France pilots announce week-long strike in September

    Read more

  • Erdogan's inauguration paves way for constitutional change

    Read more

  • New French economy minister takes swipe at 35-hour work week

    Read more

  • Air France suspends flights to Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone

    Read more

  • Uzi shooting by 9-year-old rekindles gun debate

    Read more

  • Mother of American journalist asks IS leader for his release

    Read more

  • UN probe accuses Syrian regime, Islamists of ‘crimes against humanity’

    Read more

  • Uruguayans sign up to grow marijuana at home

    Read more

  • Missouri governor appoints black public safety director

    Read more

  • French unemployment rises 0.8% in July to record high

    Read more

  • Video: Iraq’s Yazidis flee to spiritual capital of Lalish

    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

COMMENT(S)