Happy New Year!

It’s now officially 2006, at least in UTC – so I’m going to ask the following simple question:

What did you do with your extra leap second this year?

In related news, it’s worth noting that the US government is pushing for the leap second to be abolished.


I haven’t looked into it, but this seems to be really stupid. Most devices I’ve used fall into one of three categories:


These devices (or their owners / administrators) can’t keep time to anything like a second over a year, so they aren’t going to notice a change of a second, whether it’s added at the end of the year, or phased in throughout the year by making seconds longer.

Remotely set

I got one of these this year – a watch that receives a signal from the NIST giving the current date and time. Obviously, owners of these devices don’t have to do anything, because NIST keeps the signal updated with leap seconds.

Highly accurate

There are some devices – atomic clocks, etc – that need to maintain accurate time, because they are used to control or monitor astronomically important things, like telescopes, etc. Those machines need to know the time in relation to the progression of the earth through the solar system, so presumably they make good use of the leap seconds to ensure that the time they display is always close to the visible local time.

So, where’s the fuss? What could it possibly benefit to kill the leap second? Is the leap second really causing anyone any confusion? I’d love to know.

2 thoughts on “Happy New Year!”

  1. Yeah, well without all these leap seconds you’ll be really sorry in a hundred thousand years, when your Tivo misses the first 15 minutes of the season premier of 24.


  2. Leap seconds are extremely inconvenient to people stupid enough to store time and date information as an offset from an epoch moment. Which is, of course, lots of people who write software.

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