Like any other year, 2016 didn’t fail to bring both good and bad events in the life of its spectators and actors. People are mourning many valuable public figures that departed this life. Among these celebrities, there were David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Glenn Frey, Harper Lee, Umberto Eco, Prince, Muhammad Ali, George Michael, and Carrie Fisher. However, there were also good forces this year. We can be happy that world hunger has been at its lowest point since 25 years ago. Also, East Asia has gone from 60% of poor population to only 3.5% while the American homelessness has dropped by 35% since 2007. These worldwide events will stay longer with us in the year of 2016 with one more leap second.
Coordinated Universal Time, more commonly known as UTC or CUT, is the primary time according to which we all regulate our clocks. UTC has been adopted on January 1st, 1960. It has recently succeeded to become the only time standard acknowledged by the scientific community. This place was occupied for a long time by the Greenwich Mean Time, namely GMT, but it is now serving just the UK civil purposes.
Coordinated Universal Time is broadly used by many countries, including Britain, West African nations, Ireland, and Iceland. These nations will experience the year of 2016 for one more leap second. The extra moment will be squeezed during the countdown until the first day of 2017. As a consequence, the year’s final minute will adopt an unusual length of 61 seconds.
The representatives of the Paris Observatory explain this strange temporal event as an effort to align UTC to the astronomical time. It is widely known that the natural time is irregular as it is coordinated by the rotations of the Earth around its axis. As these rotations don’t score the same exact time for its completion, the astronomical time fluctuates, and it is never constant. In contrast, UTC is stable and respects the rules of atomic clocks and not astronomical time since 1967.
The Paris Observatory has the task to manage the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS). Based on their studies, the researchers here are in charge of synchronizing UTC to astronomical time. By now, UTC experienced 37 leap seconds since 1972. As the Earth continues to slow down, researchers expect that such events will take place more frequently in the future.
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