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Late again! It may not be your fault…this time!

January 19, 2012

For those of us in the Workforce Management business “time” is really, really important! We measure it in the present, plan for it in the future and examine it in the past.

Perhaps no other measure is so universally accepted as is time. There is wide agreement that a day has 24 hours and each hour consists of 60 minutes and each minute is the result of 60 seconds passing. And when extrapolated out to a full year, we all agree that 1 year has 31,536,000 seconds!

Mother Earth tells us so! It is all based on the consistent, stable rotation of the earth.

Until recently, no one would dare question Mother Earth on matters of time. Just as we know the sun rises in the east, the measure of time was unequivocal. We have so respected the importance of time that we continually search for ever more sophisticated ways to measure and track it. And that quest has resulted in the development of the most sophisticated of time measuring tools – the Atomic Clock!

It is this sophisticated tracking device that has been the undoing of our unquestioned reliance on our measurement of time. The Atomic Clock is more accurate than Mother Earth! It has detected that the Earth is not consistent in the speed of its rotation. Because of this inconsistency the Atomic Clock must periodically leap forward or back in its measurement of seconds to keep itself in sync with the speed of Earth’s rotation.

These small adjustments to the clock have had little consequence until now. With ever more sophisticated devices relying on precision in the true measurement of time, a decision must be made about the future of the leap second. That decision is being made by over 100 country representatives at the Radiocommunications Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland this week.


With many countries supporting the abandonment of future leap second adjustments, the leap second may be a thing of the past. The decision to stop making leap second adjustments in conjunction with the Earth’s rotating ever so slightly faster, may result in you finding yourself a few seconds late for future appointments.

 Rest assured, you will clearly not be at fault…this time!

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 1, 2012 2:23 PM

    I really enjoyed this article, especially as this year is a leap year (something that always amuses me, especially for those people who’s birthdays fall on February 29th!) I had no idea that the Atomic Clock keeps seconds in check to maintain the correct time. Now if I could just manage to keep myself on the same track.. haha. Thank you for the insight!

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