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Adding Leap Second This Year Expected to Cause Internet Problems


An antique mechanical clock.

Some Internet companies are concerned the addition of a leap second to the current year will cause problems.

Credit: Vera Kratochvil

A leap second will be added to the year this summer, and many Internet companies are concerned this will cause problems for websites. Services such as Foursquare, Reddit, LinkedIn, and Yelp reported problems the last time a leap second was added in 2012.

The International Earth Rotation Service will add the leap second at 23:59:59 on June 30, the halfway point of the year, to synch up atomic clock time with the Earth's rotational time. Computer systems can become confused when their clocks show 60 seconds, rather than roll over after 59, and the confusion can lead to blackouts. Other computers will show the 59th second for two seconds in a row, which can result in problems as well.

Google once again will employ a workaround that forces servers to use extra time in making updates over the course of the year. With the "smear around" approach, they do not notice that a leap second has occurred.

Because of such disruptions, some in the technology sector have called for the wholesale elimination of time based on the Earth's movement. That would make little difference in the near term, but at some point people would find their clocks mismatched with days and nights, perhaps requiring a leap minute or hour.

From Phys.Org
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