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Bruised by past mistakes, tech firms brace for 'leap second'

Tim Hornyak | June 30, 2015
Just before the stroke of midnight Tuesday Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), computerized clocks around the world will pause for a moment to squeeze in an extra second.

"We may see some small incidents with in-house computer systems or ones that are very old and not well maintained," said Tetsutaro Uehara, a computer science professor at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto. "But they won't cause big problems like we saw in 2012."

With the concern it has caused among IT companies as well as stock market regulators, the leap second has earned its share of detractors. Representatives of various countries will continue to debate whether it should be abolished at a November meeting of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) World Radiocommunication Conference. One alternative is a continuous time scale without leap seconds that could be based on UTC.

"The suppression of the leap second would facilitate a continuous time scale that would support all modern electronic navigation and computerized systems and eliminate the need for specialized ad hoc time systems," an ITU spokesman said via email.

 

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