The fight against the leap second finally has a conclusion: we will kill it (but it will take a while)

  • 12

The fight against the leap second finally has a conclusion: we will kill it (but it will take a while)

Last Friday, one of those meetings that pass without apparent pain or glory was held, but it was much more important than it seemed. The Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM) was meeting in Versailles to decide what to do about the pesky leap second.

Death warrant. The member states of that international organization that governs measurement standards were forceful. There was almost absolute unanimity to approve the so-called Resolution D, the measure that will mean the end of the leap second after decades of discussion and having to use it to synchronize terrestrial time with atomic time.

GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou and Galileo: what are they and what are the differences

in Xataka

GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou and Galileo: what are they and what are the differences

historic day. It seems like a minor issue, but those responsible for the debate described Friday’s date as a “historic day.” Patrizia Tavella, one of the most responsible for having carried out this resolution, explained in The New York Times how “after more than 20 years of discussion, we now have a great agreement”.

Decades giving trouble. The leap second was an annoying botch since it was created 50 years ago. The idea is to align international atomic time with the time taken on Earth as our planet rotates. Seconds were added to adjust both “clocks”, but nowadays doing the operation is enormously complicated and the problem affects large companies and the technology they use.

Russia voted against. And Belarus abstained. The country led by Vladimir Putin tried to avoid the measure because its GLONASS system incorporates those extra seconds, while GPS or Galileo do not.

{“videoId”:”x8cljik”,”autoplay”:false,”title”:”Is Galileo the same as GPS”, “tag”:”Galileo”}

2035 deadline. Precisely because of this conflict with Russia, a long term has been given to eliminate the leap second. The deadline is 2035, although it could happen sooner. Between 2035 and at least 2135 the leap second will not be used, and it will be then when the metrologists who are in charge of the subject decide how to reconcile the atomic and astronomical scales.

There is still work to be done. The BIPM vote is crucial, but now the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will have to confirm it and vote on the resolution, something that will happen at a future conference in Dubai (UAE) next year. Everything indicates that the ITU will also support the measure, which will finally make us enjoy what experts call “continuous time”, without having to shoehorn those annoying leap seconds.

Image: Bruno Guerrero

(function() { window._JS_MODULES = window._JS_MODULES || {}; var headElement = document.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0]; if (_JS_MODULES.instagram) { var instagramScript = document.createElement(‘script’); instagramScript.src=”https://platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js”; instagramScript.async = true; instagramScript.defer = true; headElement.appendChild(instagramScript); } })();


The news

The fight against the leap second finally has a conclusion: we will kill it (but it will take a while)

was originally posted on

xataka

by Javier Pastor.

Last Friday, one of those meetings that pass without apparent pain or glory was held, but it was much more…

Last Friday, one of those meetings that pass without apparent pain or glory was held, but it was much more…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.