Scientists and government representatives gathered at a conference in France voted to abolish the leap second by 2035, according to the organization responsible for global timing.
The decision was made by representatives of governments around the world at the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) on November 18.
This means that from 2035 or possibly earlier, sidereal time (known as UT1) will have the potential to deviate by more than one second from Coordinated Universal Time (known as UTC), which is based on the fixed sign of the atomic clock.
Since 1972, a leap second has been added whenever two time systems are more than 0.9 seconds apart.
Like leap years, leap seconds have been periodically added to clocks over the past half century to compensate for the difference between precise atomic time and the Earth’s slower rotation.
While leap seconds go unnoticed by most people, they can cause problems for a range of systems that require accurate and uninterrupted passage of time, such as satellite navigation, software, communications, commerce, and even space travel.
The decision to stop adding leap seconds by 2035 and for at least a century was made by members of the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM) and others at the 27th General Conference on Weights and Measures, which is held approximately every four years. at the Palace of Versailles, west of Paris.
Don’t Set Your Clock: Scientists call time on bounce second https://t.co/HOJlfu6mAU
– Guardian news (@guardiannews) November 18, 2022
Notably, the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM) has 59 member states.
This “historic decision” will provide “an uninterrupted flow of seconds without the interruptions currently caused by irregular leap seconds,” said Dr. Patricia Tavella, head of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures Time Division.
“The change will come into effect by 2035 or earlier. The connection between UTC and the rotation of the Earth is not lost and UTC is still connected to the Earth,” she added, adding that “nothing will change” for the public.
Seconds were measured by astronomers who analyzed the rotation of the Earth, but the advent of atomic clocks, which used the mechanism of vibrating atoms, ushered in a much more accurate era of timekeeping.
The problem is that the Earth’s slightly slower rotation means the two times are out of sync. To bridge the gap, leap seconds were introduced in 1972, and since then 27 seconds have been added at irregular intervals, most recently in 2016.
Under the new proposal, leap seconds will be added as usual for the time being.
Starting in 2035, the difference between atomic and astronomical time will increase to more than one second, said Judah Levin, a physicist at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology.
“The big cost has yet to be determined,” said Levine, who, along with Tavella, spent years helping to make the decision.
According to the resolution, negotiations will be held to find a proposal by 2035 to determine this value and how to deal with it.
One possible solution to the problem could be to increase the discrepancy between the Earth’s rotation and atomic time by one minute, Levine said.
It is difficult to say how many times this may be required, but Lewin estimated it at 50–100 years.