Search icon


30th Dec 2016

As if 2016 wasn’t bad enough, it’s being extended (very slightly) ahead of the New Year

Here's why you'll probably shout Happy New Year at the wrong moment this year.

Tony Cuddihy

Just what we need… more 2016.

We’re not going to get into the myriad reasons why 2016 has been an absolute bastard of a year, mainly because we’re sick and tired of being sick and tired.

However, the news that it’s being extended ahead of the New Year is one last slap in the face that we didn’t need.

A slowdown in the Earth’s rotation means that we’ll have to wait an extra second for the clocks to usher in 2017.

Scientists are introducing a ‘leap second’ after 23.59:59 on New Year’s Eve, meaning you’ll have to pause a moment before accidentally planting a dirty wet kiss on the lips of your least favourite aunt.

It will actually be the 27th time that the National Physical Laboratory will have introduced the extra second to make sure that the time set by the Earth’s rotation does not lag behind time kept by atomic clocks.

They are usually added every two or three years but, according to the Press Association, the last time it happened was just 18 months ago, in June 2015.

NPL scientist Peter Whibberley said: “Atomic clocks are more than a million times better at keeping time than the rotation of the Earth, which fluctuates unpredictably.

“Leap seconds are needed to prevent civil time drifting away from Earth time. Although the drift is small — taking around 1,000 years to accumulate a one-hour difference — if not corrected it would eventually result in clocks showing midday before sunrise.”


New Year