2016 has provided us with a leap day as was shown on February 29th, but an extra second will also be added to the regular New Year’s Eve countdown, also called a ‘leap second.’
Leap days generally are added so as to align our calendars appropriately with the yearly seasons. However, the leap seconds are to align the clocks we have with the position and angle of the Sun, which is directly linked to the rotation of Earth.
At the given moment, Earth requires an estimate of 86,400.00183 seconds in order to be able to complete one turn.
Although comparing this figure when compared to the sum of 24 hours a day multiplied by 60 minutes an hour and 60 seconds within a minute may seem like a trivial difference, it would eventually be a noticeable and difficult situation in the long run.
How Is This So?
Some have argued about what the big deal would be if a second was just defined and officially remained as that one number and end all this dilemma.
The answer is that this attempt had already been made back in 1874 with the real problem surfacing which is that Earth is constantly altering.
According to the standardized SI that we have today, it has been said that each century loses at least .0015 seconds for its individual days.
The Need for Leap Seconds
The leap seconds are set in place so as to not alter our fixed time measurements and result in further chaotic disarray and confusion.
The coordinated universal time (UTC) usually sticks in not distancing itself by more than .9 seconds away from Earth’s varying movements and changes.
However, leap seconds are quite different from leap years in the sense that they can only be observed and sighted with far more observant details, since Earth moves in an unpredictable manner.