Wait a sec for leap into 2006
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Get ready for a minute with 61 seconds. Scientists are delaying the start of 2006 by the first "leap second" in seven years, a timing tweak meant to make up for changes in the Earth's rotation.
The adjustment will be carried out by sticking an extra second into atomic clocks worldwide at the stroke of midnight Coordinated Universal Time, the widely adopted international standard, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology said this week.
Although it is possible to have a negative leap second -- that is, a second deducted from Coordinated Universal Time -- so far all have been add-ons, reflecting the Earth's general slowing trend due to tidal breaking.
Deciding when to introduce a leap second is the responsibility of the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service, a standards-setting body. Under an international pact, the preference for leap seconds is December 31 or June 30.