Leap Second Overtakes Y2K As Worst Internet Menace

Well, it turns out that the leap second implemented Tuesday night caused far more disruption than the mythical Y2K bug did fifteen years ago. That is to say, about 2000 networks around the world were down for a few minutes at midnight UTC. The same thing happened in 2012, with consequences that were a bit more severe. So we are getting better.

Wait. What is the leap second again? Well, it’s the human construct created to account for the Earth’s natural slowing due to tidal friction. Yeah, we don’t understand that either, but there it is.

But what does it mean to the watch nerds of the world? Well, besides all the handwringing by the world’s computer specialists, not a lot. Your trusty Rollie has been running a second fast since Tuesday evening, assuming you routinely set it to an Atomic Clock.


Other than that, to a watch nerd, the leap second is simply an oddity. Sailors – the ones whose need for accurate time was among the most critical – determined longitude just fine for a couple of centuries without needing to allow for it.

In fact, humans get along just fine without worrying about the leap second.

Computers on the other hand, don’t always do so well. Software, especially old software, is a harsh mistress. Rigid and unforgiving too. Witness 2012 and Tuesday night.

So stick with your Rolex and don’t let the vagaries of the internet age get you down.