The ‘leap second’ explained in numbers


Science hardly gets more technical than the “leap second”. This is when clocks will momentarily freeze to realign the Earth’s slowing rotation with our super-accurate atomic clocks.

Sounds baffling? Well it’s not just you who’s concerned. Last time a leap second was added, high-profile websites faltered and 400 flights were delayed. And some scientists say the whole thing isn’t even worth the hassle!

Leap second, atomic clock

People are preparing already. Financial markets (which are among the time-sensitive systems that rely heavily on atomic clocks) are particularly ahead of the curve, with New York closing early and Australian and Asian markets choosing to cut up the frozen second and “smear” it over a couple of hours.

With 46 billion US dollars traded around the world every second, you see why capitalist types are keen to minimise the disruption.

Here are some of the numbers behind the mind-boggling phenomenon.

Leap second info

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