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Every second counts - More time to do what you love in 2015

12 January 2015 by Greg Kelly

Astronomers at the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service in Paris have declared that 2015 will be 1 second longer than 2014.

The 'leap second' was calculated after the earth's rotation was compared to the time kept by atomic clocks. This is the 26th time this has happened since we started using atomic clocks to measure our time on the 1st January 1972.

The international timekeeping community has two ways of measuring the passing of time. The first, known as astronomical time, is based on how long it takes the earth to make one complete spin on it's axis. The problem with this method however is that large weather systems and atmospheric winds can exert enough force on the earth's surface to cause it to speed up or slow down by thousands of a second as well as movements of molten rock in the earth's core can affect the sped of it's rotation by four-thousanths of a second over decades. The second method of measuring time, Atomic time, defines a second as exactly 9,192,631,770 oscillations of a cesuim-133 atom.

As the earth's rotation has sped up and slowed down, the atomic clock has been steadily ticking away causing it to be slightly fast resulting in the need to add an extra second onto the final minute of June 20th.

"The atomic time scale has revolutionised technology and stabilised the time" said NASA geophysicist Richard Gross, "but it is slowly drifting out of sync with our actual position in the cosmos."

While one second might not seem like very much we will leave you with this quote from French novelist Marc Levy;

“If you want to know the value of one year, just ask a student who failed a course.
If you want to know the value of one month, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby. 
If you want to know the value of one hour, ask the lovers waiting to meet. 
If you want to know the value of one minute, ask the person who just missed the bus. 
If you want to know the value of one second, ask the person who just escaped death in a car accident. 
And if you want to know the value of one-hundredth of a second, ask the athlete who won a silver medal in the Olympics.”

British Watch and Clockmakers Guild
British Horological Institute
American Watch and Clockmakers Institute

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