Less precision, more convenience: Timekeepers have abandoned the extra seconds

(ORDO NEWS) — To compensate for the difference between precise atomic time and our planet’s rotation, leap seconds have been periodically added to clocks over the past 50 years.

Ordinary people did not actually notice this, but the International Bureau of Weights and Measures experienced a lot of headaches, and now the timekeepers gathered in France decided to abandon the “extra” seconds.

Just as an “extra” day in February is added to a leap year, “extra” leap seconds have been added to world clocks for half a century. The goal is to compensate for the difference between precise atomic time and the Earth‘s rotation.

Although ordinary people hardly noticed that their hours were getting a little longer, “extra” seconds have become a curse for all systems that require accurate time, such as satellite navigation, telecommunications, trade, and even space travel.

Naturally, the most affected by the need to correct time was the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, which is responsible for universal coordinated time – the international standard by which the population of the Earth regulates their clocks.

And now, at the 27th General Conference on Weights and Measures, meeting at the Palace of Versailles, west of Paris, scientists and government representatives from around the world have voted to stop adding “extra” seconds by 2035.

This will make it possible to create more accurate systems and programs that will no longer need constant temporal adjustment, albeit at the cost of losing the absolute accuracy of Earth time.

At the same time, other countries were calling for a faster phase-out before 2030, so 2035 was the optimal compromise date.

For the first time, “extra” seconds began to be added in 1972, the last time this happened in 2016. Until 2035, this tradition will continue, but then larger time periods (for example, minutes) will act as compensation, which will have to be added, at most, once every 50-100 years.


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