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Japanese quake may shorten days

Joab Jackson | March 16, 2011
The Japanese earthquake may trigger shorter days, spurring changes in computer time-keeping

Since 1972, 24 leap seconds have been introduced into UTC. Most have been added to offset the gradual slowing of the Earth's rotation. The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology maintains a list of leap seconds that can be parsed by computers through the NTP (Network Time Protocol).

Still, it might be a while before the ITU must issue another leap second to reconcile the divide between digital and solar time that this earthquake has wrought.

"Two microseconds per day is under a [millisecond] per year. That's not very big on the scale of a whole second," one contributor of the Time Nuts mailing list noted.


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