Hold on a second: International timekeepers punt decision on ‘leap second’ down the road

BERLIN – For this decision, a U.N. agency has decided to take its time.

The International Telecommunication Union said Thursday that it had considered a proposal to abandon the “leap second” at a conference in Geneva, but recommended further study.

The practice of periodically adding an extra second to compensate for the slightly slower rotation of the Earth has kept computers synchronized with the planet’s 24-hour day since 1972.

The international timekeepers said they needed more details on the possible impact of ending the practice, and would evaluate the findings at a meeting of the World Radiocommunication Conference in 2023. Until then, leap seconds will be added as needed.

The last leap second was added on June 30; the time before that was in 2012.