back to article 2008 goes into one-second overtime

As if the leap day in February wasn't enough stalling for time, scientists intend to delay the arrival of 2009 by one additional second. Timekeepers will tack on a "leap second" to the world's clocks December 31, 2008 at 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The occasional chrono-adjustment is …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wind farms

    >The time discrepancy is due to the planet's spin gradually but surely slowing down, mostly due to tidal friction.

    And people laugh when I ask what will happen when the wind farms take all the wind away and the earth spins into overdrive due to the loss of the winds braking power.

  2. John Widger


    I use a sundial. Once set it's always right.

  3. Mark Allen

    Extended countdowns?

    So does that mean when the do the "countdown to midnight" it should be...

    10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2..1...1... Midnight?

    It will be a New Year for the Pedants to have fun. :-)

  4. F Seiler

    great name

    >> The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service

    couldn't they split it into two or drop the reference systems organisations just for fun, i surely like the idea of an organisation named

    The International Earth Rotation Service

  5. Mark Monaghan

    @Extended countdowns?

    >So does that mean when the do the "countdown to midnight" it should be...

    >10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2..1...1... Midnight?

    No ... but you'll have to start counting down at 23:59:51

    It's the one with the stopwatch in the pocket

  6. Anonymous Coward

    All well and good

    However how does one translate a yoctosecond into the El Reg standard of weights and measures?? If there isn't one I suggest it be equivalent to the amount of time between someone completing a windows install and finding the computer has been compromised. Or perhaps the time between the posting of a "Fail and you" article and someone commenting on Ted's language.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Slainte, err, slainte!

    Hey, better have a couple of drams poured, because I'm bound to have "forgotten" by that time on the 31st....

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    I knew it!

    Everybody always said that Bush would try to find some way to extend his presidency, and now it's happened! Stock up on shotguns and hard liquor!

  9. Neoc
    Thumb Down


    I thought the element was "Caesium". A small, but important difference. Or is this another "Americanisation", like "aluminum" instead of "aluminium"?

  10. Alan Esworthy

    (several million)^3 yoctoseconds

    At ten-to-the-minus-two-dozen each, you'll have rather a lot more than just several million yoctoseconds to add to your New Year's Eve bash.

    ...and just why is there not time unit on the highly useful

    page? Eh? Eh? If New York can have the "New York Second" (the time it takes for the taxi driver behind you to blow his horn after the traffic light turns green) why not an "El Reg Jiffy"? The Windows-installation-completion to first-compromise will do nicely. How about a compo for this Friday?

  11. Anonymous Coward

    And nothing to do with...

    And nothing to do with this comic - - at all...?

  12. Richard

    Bah humbug!

    Can't we tag the leap second onto the start of 2009 instead? 2008 has been a bitch of a year, so why prolong it?

  13. Anonymous Coward

    A title is required.

    erm whats the point of keeping UTC if it needs to be paused so that UT1 can keep up? Why not just use UT1 instead?

  14. CTG


    My 9-year-old son will be delighted to see yoctoseconds mentioned. He recently did a project for school involving SI notations, and has been measuring time in yoctoseconds ever since. I'm getting quite good at counting in quintillions as a result :-)

  15. Murray Pearson

    Re: John Widger

    You forgot to account for continental drift. That's 5 cm a year on average!

  16. Tim Spence

    RE: What's the point in UTC by AC

    The point in UTC is that it is perfectly consistent, always, and we need that for all sorts of things, whereas UT1 isn't consistent - it's slowing. So UTC needs to be paused because otherwise, eventually, at some point in the distant future, they'll fall way out of sync and the sun will rise in the evening and set in the morning.

    The alternative is to recalibrate "time" to match UT1, but that would mean updating a lot of books and a fair few laws of physics. Also, UT1 is a moving target - it's slowing, so we'd constantly have to be updating stuff.

  17. Sam Mosel

    Only Midnight if you are on GMT

    The leap-second occurs at a set point in time, ie. midnight UTC. So everybody who doesn't live in the UTC timezone (UK, Ireland, Iceland, Portugal or Morocco) will have the leap-second at some other time, most of you (Europe, Asia, Australia) sometime in early 2009. For me in CADST (that's Central Australian Daylight Savings Time), it's 10:30am on Jan 1, 2009.

  18. James O'Brien
    Thumb Up

    @10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2..1...1... Midnight?

    Ok that one had me in tears

  19. CTG


    My son just pointed out that I would be counting in septillions, not quintillions...

    Shown up by a 9 year old... <hangs head in shame>

  20. Anonymous Coward

    RE: Bah humbug!

    "Can't we tag the leap second onto the start of 2009 instead? 2008 has been a bitch of a year, so why prolong it?"

    I'd say getting rid of the terrorist in the White House is a good thing.

  21. Mudslinger

    I think I know what you mean


    "The occasional chrono-adjustment is meant to keep the uniform time kept by atomic clocks since 1972 less than 0.9 seconds within the time-scale measured by the Earth's rotation around its axis."

    isn't quite how I would have put it :-)

  22. kevin elliott


    My watch will be fast again..... And every time they insert another of those leap events, it brings my date and time of death forward.... Life's short enough already, why don't these guys think?

    Time to leave, methinks

    Coat, cos I don' want to listen to guys who don't get the joke trying to explain it to me...

  23. druck Silver badge

    Under threat

    Leap seconds are under threat and may be abolished in future years, allowing UTC shown by your clock to drift away from UT which the the time of the day according to where the sun is over the future centuries.

    This is being proposed because the earth's rotation is slowing, so soon we'll need one leap second a year, and next century we will need 2 leap seconds a year, later still one a month and eventually one a day. Even in the sort term that means too many changes to clocks in precision systems such as GPS.

    However I see it as being a victory for numbers and a defeat for humans. In the past we defined units from practical observations such as a second being 1/86400th of a day, now it is based caesum atoms and cant be changed to reflect the world as we find it.

  24. Richard Kay

    I'll see it in my logs

    Anyone running a NTP (Network Time Protocol) client which logs the system clock corrections made will be able to see the evidence of the extra 1 second adjustment.

  25. Iain Gilbert


    At least it'll be one more second away from Christmas 09.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Tom Baker et al

    So what happens when you phone the speaking clock?

    "At the third beep the time will be 23:59:60, beep, beep, beep"


    "At the third beep, the time will be nearly 00:00, beep, beep, beep"


    "At the fourth beep, the time will be 00:00, ....."

    Paris ? She'll need to take her Gucci watch to get fixed.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Global Warming Strikes Again

    Surely our wanton mistreatment of the environ is slowing the roll of our big ball 'o blue.

    Save the planet - it's your duty. For the children!

  28. Anonymous Coward

    @Sam Mosel

    Lisbon (in Portugal) is in the same time zone as London (in England)

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Why is Coordinated Universal Time...

    referred to as UTC, when:

    C oordinated

    UN iversal

    T ime

    easily offends...

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No leap seconds there for Java

    Java time classes (Calendar and others) don't add those leap seconds... Hello, Sun?

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