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    Will the leap second on June 30 break the internet?

    This is a discussion on Will the leap second on June 30 break the internet? within the General Computing and Internet forums, part of the Community channel category; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3131840/The-longest-day-Leap-second-make-61-second-minute-end-June-experts-warn-break-internet.html Will the leap second on June 30 break the internet? Experts fear added time could cause computer chaos On ...

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      Will the leap second on June 30 break the internet?

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3131840/The-longest-day-Leap-second-make-61-second-minute-end-June-experts-warn-break-internet.html

      Will the leap second on June 30 break the internet? Experts fear added time could cause computer chaos


      • On June 30, at 23:59:59 GMT, the world's clocks will add an extra second
      • This is to account for the discrepancy between Earth time and atomic time
      • But experts warn it could wreak havoc to systems powering the internet
      • It may cause some systems to crash while others will be half a second off


      Every second really does count.

      On June 30, at 23:59:59 GMT precisely, the world's clocks will add an extra second to the day, bringing the total number of seconds for 2015 up to 31,536,001.

      Scientists say adding this 'leap second' is crucial to compensate for slowing of the Earth's rotation.

      But according to some computer experts, the added time could wreak havoc to systems powering the internet.

      The extra second is needed because the Earth's rotation is gradually slowing down by around two thousandths of a second per day and needs to catch up with atomic time.

      Leap seconds are occasionally used to help 'Earth time' catch up to 'atomic time'. The latter is constant but the former is slower by about two thousands of a second per day.

      To keep them in sync, it is necessary to occasionally jump Earth's time back - for mathematical reasons similar to adding leap years.

      'At the time of the dinosaurs, Earth completed one rotation in about 23 hours,' says Daniel MacMillan of Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center.

      'In the year 1820, a rotation took exactly 24 hours, or 86,400 standard seconds. Since 1820, the mean solar day has increased by about 2.5 milliseconds.'

      The decision to do so is made every time Earth time is slower by about half a second, making it about half a second quicker instead.

      This year will be the 26th time in history since 1972 that a leap second will have been added but what effect will this have on computer systems?

      John Engates, chief technology officer at Rackspace, said when asked about keeping computer clocks synchronised: 'Time gets complicated fast.'

      WHAT COULD HAPPEN TO COMPUTER SYSTEMS ON JUNE 30?

      On June 30, not everyone will add the leap second in the same way, or at same time.

      In some systems, the computer clock shows 60 seconds instead of rolling over to the next minute, or showing the 59th second twice.

      As a result the computer sees a leap second as time going backward, causing a system error and the CPU to overload.

      For computers that don't crash, processes based on precise timing, such as the amount of time a valve opens to add a chemical to a mix, may be off by half a second.

      But it remains to be seen whether this will create large-scale problems, as some computer scientists have predicted.

      This is because not everyone will add the leap second in the same way, or at same time.

      In some systems, the computer clock shows 60 seconds instead of rolling over to the next minute, or showing the 59th second twice.

      As a result the computer sees a leap second as time going backward, causing a system error and the CPU to overload.

      In 2012 a problem was caused when subsystems got confused by the time change and caused hyperactivity on certain servers.

      Many companies including Reddit, Yelp and LinkedIn reported crashes as their systems struggled to cope with the change.

      While precautions have been taken to cope with the change this time, it is often a lesser known subsystem that succumbs to the changed time.

      This time around some websites could go offline if a glitch in their systems is unearthed. But major firms say they are prepared.

      For instance, companies such as Google, add fractions of a second over the preceding year so that they don't need to make a sudden jump - known as a 'leap smear'.

      'We have a clever way of handling leap seconds,' wrote Google site reliability engineers Noah Maxwell and Michael Rothwell in a blog posted May 21. 'Instead of repeating a second, we 'smear' away the extra second.'

      But this might cause its own problems. Harlan Stenn, chief maintainer of the Network Time Protocol, told Information Week he doesnt like the smear.

      'At noon on June 30, clocks of smear implementers will be off by a half second,' he said.

      Processes based on precise timing, such as the amount of time a valve opens to add a chemical to a mix, will be off by half a second.

      WHY IS EARTH'S ROTATION SLOWING?

      Of the daily sum of 86,400 seconds measured by atomic clocks, Earth rotates about 0.002 seconds slower.

      This is due to the discrepancy between atomic time and the mathematically calculated time of Earth's date.

      However, Earth's rotation is also getting slower, on the order of a millisecond or so every century.

      It's thought that, four billion years ago, a day on the planet lasted just 22 hours.

      This is mostly due to the tidal pull from the moon, which is very slightly slowing the rotation of Earth.

      'What if you're getting radiation treatment? Do you want your radiation dose to be off by a half-second or more?' said Stenn.

      However, some nations including the US have supported a change to get rid of leap seconds. They instead simply want to let the clocks run out of sync.

      Were such a decision to be made, though, it's unlikely we could ever go back to a leap second system and keep the clocks in sync.

      This is because the clocks would be out of sync by several minutes, or maybe hours eventually, which would be virtually impossible to add to systems without disastrous consequences.

      Without leap seconds, there would be a slip of two to three minutes by the year 2100, and half an hour by 2700.

      Other countries, like Britain, wanted to keep leap seconds to preserve certain regularities - such as Greenwich Mean Time, which is the time when the sun crosses the Greenwich Meridian.

      A vote is due to take place by the Radiocommunication Assembly and the World Radiocommunication Conference later in the year to decide the leap second's fate.


      Comment: Y2K all over again anyone or do you want to change banks to RBS?


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    3. #2
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      Re: Will the leap second on June 30 break the internet?

      But time is relative.

      So if i take a day trip to Holme in Cambridgeshire on the 30th with my ps3 i'll be ok.

      Or will i have to stay there?

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      Re: Will the leap second on June 30 break the internet?

      Clocks are getting far too accurate. It was never a problem when time was measured using a swinging pendulum.

      Forget climate change. What will happen as days get longer due to the use of (renewable?) tidal energy?

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      Re: Will the leap second on June 30 break the internet?

      Does this mean that my dog will snore for one second more, or one second less?

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      Re: Will the leap second on June 30 break the internet?

      Quote Originally Posted by FelixTCat View Post
      Does this mean that my dog will snore for one second more, or one second less?
      Depends on what wakes him up. If the neighbour's cat gets up one second earlier, then he'll snore for one second less

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      Re: Will the leap second on June 30 break the internet?

      Quote Originally Posted by FelixTCat View Post
      Does this mean that my dog will snore for one second more, or one second less?
      Have you tagged it?

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      Re: Will the leap second on June 30 break the internet?

      Oh noes! Its in the DM so it must be true! Hide under your beds everyone! The end is nigh!

      I'm still waiting for Y2K, that must be due anytime soon, right?

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      Re: Will the leap second on June 30 break the internet?

      Have you tagged it?
      How will the leap second affect the tag? This is becoming more and more worrying!

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      Re: Will the leap second on June 30 break the internet?

      Quote Originally Posted by FelixTCat View Post
      How will the leap second affect the tag? This is becoming more and more worrying!
      I meant chipped.

      The pooch may start time travelling.

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      Re: Will the leap second on June 30 break the internet?

      Chipped??!!! I'm not putting my poor pooch through a mincer just because of a leap second - even if I could catch him whilst leaping!
      gymno likes this.

     

     

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