End announced for the leap second, a computer nightmare

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End announced for the leap second, a computer nightmare

The leap second reconciles the discrepancies that may arise between atomic time and solar time.

Companies in the tech industry have cause to rejoice: the leap second, a time correction, will soon be a thing of the past. This is what the member states of the Bureau of Weights and Measures, who met in Versailles on Friday, agreed almost unanimously.

Every 21 months or so, since 1972, the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) clock has needed a fix that takes into account the gradual slowing of the Earth's rotation. This one-second time correction, called a leap second, is irregular – like the Earth's rotational speed – and therefore difficult to predict.

Result: since its introduction, it has caused many headaches for developers whose systems require precise timing.

This is particularly the case of the Reddit forum which, in 2012 , was affected by an outage lasting around forty minutes. Its servers have been disrupted due to a new leap second.

Cloudflare's DNS service blamed this time correction on an outage in 2017 at midnight on New Year's.

Leap second setbacks even pushed Meta , the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, to publish a blog post this year arguing for its removal. The company uses a spreading technique to avoid breakdowns with each adjustment.

“Every leap second is a major source of ordeal for people managing physical infrastructure. »

— Excerpt from a blog post by Meta

It must be believed that this publication has reached the ears of scientists and member countries of the International Bureau of Weights and measures that voted for Resolution D, which aims to end this practice by 2035.

Resolution D, however, must be endorsed by the International Union of telecommunications, the organization responsible for the transmission of universal time, before it could be officially adopted. The issue will be put to a vote in 2023 by its members.

If the measure gets this final green light, it will go into effect until at least 2135. Why this year? We want to give time to metrologists and astronomers to develop a system better adapted to synchronize the atomic and astronomical time scales.

With information from Engadget, The Verge, and New York Times

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