from Popular Mechanics

Why Scientists Want to Shorten the Minute to 59 Seconds

Time might be running out.


ISTEO / Getty Images

We like to say nothing is certain in life but death and taxes, but the truth is even our planet and the universe are constantly imposing changes on us.

That includes this new suggestion from scientists: We should consider shortening the minute to just 59 seconds, at least for one “negative leap second” that will better line us up with Earth’s real rotation.

This is on the heels of a year marked by many shorter-than-average days, following several years in which Earth has rotated faster than maybe ever before. What’s going on?

First, you might wonder why tiny portions of individual seconds make any real difference. The truth is they don’t for most people, or even most applications. But for some, like scientists and specially tuned scientific instruments, the differences must be accounted for. Something simple like a clock that just sets itself and “sheds” the extra or missing partial second each midnight could detract from research or regulation of important functions.

[ click to continue reading at Popular Mechanics ]