I know you have been waiting on pins and needles for the Resolution D vote by International Bureau of Weights and Measures. Resolution D was a vote to abolish the “leap second”, an adjustment has 50 years ago that was devised as a way to align the international atomic time scale, in use since 1967 and derived from the vibration of cesium atoms, with the slightly slower time that Earth keeps as it rotates. In effect, whenever atomic time is one second ahead, it stops for a second to allow Earth to catch up. Ten leap seconds were inserted into the atomic time scale when the fudge was unveiled in 1972. Twenty-seven more have been added since. Lest you think this is just a matter for the scientist to work out, it even had political implications. The majority of the world had already shifted to unofficial time systems that displaced the world’s official international time, Coordinated Universal Time, or U.T.C, because adding the extra second heightens the risk that those systems, which are responsible for telecommunication networks, energy transmission, financial transactions and other vital enterprises, will crash or fail to synchronize.
It was a near unanimous vote. Russia voted against the resolution; Belarus abstained. Russia has long sought to delay abandonment of the leap second because its GLONASS global navigational satellite system incorporates the extra seconds, unlike other systems such as GPS, which is operated by the United States. With Russia’s concerns in mind, the leap second is not scheduled to be dropped until 2035, although it could happen sooner.
Then we can all rest easy.