2005-12-29 / Editorial

Wait a second for the new year

Don’t rush to ring in the new year this Saturday night. You’ll have to wait one second before 2006 officially begins.

That’s because the timekeepers at the U.S. Naval Observatory will add an extra second to our atomic clocks on New Year’s Eve. The extra moment of time is called a “leap second.”

Scientists say the extra second is needed because the earth’s rotation is slowing — about 2 milliseconds every 100 years due to the gravitation pull of the moon. Without going into lots of scientific detail, let’s just summarize that the moon causes tidal bulges which are drawn in the opposite direction of the earth’s rotation, thus causing our world’s spin to slow a bit.

In the big scheme of things, all of this means very little to life in Jamestown. Except that you’ll need to set your clocks back by one second this New Year’s Eve.

Happy New Year!

Return to top