The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS) has decided that the time has come once again to make some extra time. The body responsible for administering global time has informed the international "authorities responsible for the measurement and distribution of time" that a "positive leap second" will be added to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) on June 30 – an instant before 1:00 AM, to be exact.
UTC, the international time standard, is based on atomic time, considered to be even more accurate than the revolutions of Earth around its axis. In fact, the Earth has slowed down ever so little in recent decades, and adding a leap-second every few years is the method of choice by which to bring the two time systems back into sync.
This will be the 26th time since 1972 that a leap-second has been added. In 1972, two such seconds were added – on June 30 and on Dec. 31. Altogether, Dec. 31 has seen the addition of a leap-second 15 times, and this will be the 11th time for June 30.
Two major questions arise in the face of the leap-second phenomenon: The first question, a two-fold one, is, "Is it necessary, and if so, how should computer systems deal with it?" The matter is one of dispute, though for now, the leap-seconders have the upper hand. Large companies such as Google and Amazon have announced their own methods for dealing with the computer glitches that can be expected from the change – in light of the problems caused three years ago, the last time a leap-second was added. Computers in organizations such as LinkedIn, Mozilla and Reddit experienced brief down-times then, and Qantas Airlines actually suffered a two-hour disruption.
The second question is: What should one do with this figurative extra second of life that he is being handed? Similar questions are asked each year regarding the extra hour begat by the turning back of clocks at the end of Summer Time. However, a mere second does not appear to provide the same opportunities…
Rabbi Yaakov Salomon, however, speaking on Aish.com, has found something significant that can be done during the leap-second gift: "You can make a decision!" He admits that some prior thought and preparation is necessary, but, "the actual decision can be done in an instant." For instance, one can decide at that second to "learn Hebrew," or to "move to Israel," or to "quit smoking," or to "quit gossiping." There will be 86,401 seconds on June 30, instead of 86,400, and the question is, Rabbi Salomon asks, "What will you decide in that extra second."