Google is combating a feared internet crash this year by adding small increments of time to its system clocks, Technie News reports.
It’s doing so because 2015 is going to be longer: Scientists at the International Earth Rotation Service (IERS) have announced a “leap second” will be added on June 30 to compensate for the Earth’s slowing rotation.
Basically, when clocks hit 11.59.60 on June 30, clocks will pause for one Mississippi to let the world catch up with atomic time. And because the day will have 86,401 seconds, instead of 86,400, the internet could go a bit haywire. As Techie News explains, computers and servers “panic” when they are shown the same second twice in a row. It’s not the first time this has happened. In 2012 a second was added and sites such as LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, and Reddit went down.
“If a computer is asked to carry out an operation at a time when the second is repeated, the computer is unsure what to do, resulting in a crash,” the Techie News says.
But Google has developed a technique to prevent websites crashing. Technie News reports the company has created a “leap smear” tactic, where it will gradually keep adding a millisecond to its system clocks before the event. As computers are corrected in real time, a worldwide meltdown should be prevented — it’s tricking operating systems into thinking everything’s ok by using much smaller, insignificant measurements.
The U.S is reportedly opposed to this. It claims it will disrupt navigation and communication online, as well as more critical systems such as timed money transactions. But in the U.K., the measures are favoured by horology experts because if the leap second is not used it could mean Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is abolished.
Seconds have been added in this way for years. It happened for the first time in 1972 but it has become more of a problem in recent years because there are an ever increasing number of computers synced digitally to atomic clocks.
Here’s the official announcement from IERS: