If you’re in desperate need to catch a few extra z’s you’re in luck, tomorrow night the Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS) will add some extra time to the atomic clock. Now the bad news, it is only one second of extra time.
Known as a “leap second” the agency will have atomic clocks read 23 hours, 59 minutes and 60 seconds before they move onto Greenwich Mean Time at midnight.
Watches and other electronic gadgets are set by super-accurate atomic clocks however the precision of those clocks are not as accurate as the shifting movement of the earth which in turn can lead to discrepancies.
If the clock was allowed to continually slip it would mean that many years down the road the sun would set midday. Must like a leap year day (Feb. 29 every four years) the leap second is meant to keep everything in sync.
Over the last several years the use of “leap seconds” have become more readily used than they were in the 1970s as today’s technology has become far superior compared to 40 years prior.
Changing atomic clock time is important because it works to ensure proper use of the internet, satellite navigation systems, air traffic control systems, banking computers and various other systems.
Not all experts believe the atomic clock should be messed with, experts at a meeting of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) called for an end to “leap seconds” a request that did not reach a final decision.
So perhaps you’ll get one extra second of sleep tonight but even if you don’t notice it, the system at least means billions of people won’t be trying to catch some sleep when 3pm leads to complete darkness in the future.