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Science Ticker

Leap second helps us with the reality of time

leap second

To add a leap second on June 30, the official time will be 23:59:60 or 11:59:60 p.m.

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Not enough time in your day?

Today, everyone gets an extra second. The Earth’s rotation has slowed down enough to warrant a leap second at the end of June 30. For that second, the official time will be 11:59:60 p.m.

Leap seconds resync human definitions of time with reality. Officially, one day spans exactly 86,400 seconds. Nature, however, is not so cooperative. Earth takes 2 milliseconds longer to complete one rotation on its axis than it did when the day was defined in 1820. As a result, the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service occasionally inserts a leap second at the end of June or December. The world was last granted an extra second on June 30, 2012. 


Pain may come in his and hers

By Laura Sanders 11:59am, June 29, 2015
Males and females rely on different kinds of cells to carry pain signals, a mouse study suggests.

Advice to a baby planet: Avoid black holes

By Christopher Crockett 11:00am, June 26, 2015
A dust cloud looping around the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole might have once been an infant planet.
Plants,, Health

Poppy yields the final secret to making morphine

By Bethany Brookshire 4:08pm, June 25, 2015
Scientists have successfully transplanted most of the morphine synthesis pathway from poppies to yeast. Now the final step is ready to be put in place.

Tiny tweaks helped flu strains thwart 2014-2015 vaccine

By Meghan Rosen 12:01pm, June 25, 2015
Changes to the flu strains circulating around the Northern Hemisphere explain why last year’s flu vaccine didn’t work so well.
Planetary Science

Rosetta mission extended until September 2016

By Christopher Crockett 4:25pm, June 23, 2015
The Rosetta spacecraft will explore comet 67P through September 2016 and then may go to sleep on the comet’s surface.
Planetary Science

Pluto and Charon’s orbital dance captured in color

By Christopher Crockett 3:00pm, June 22, 2015
New Horizons has captured the first true-color movie of Pluto and Charon orbiting one another.
Planetary Science

Evidence mounts for active volcanoes on Venus

By Christopher Crockett 7:00am, June 19, 2015
The Venus Express orbiter detected possible signs of active volcanism on the planet next door.
Planetary Science

NASA moves ahead with a mission to Europa

By Christopher Crockett 2:37pm, June 18, 2015
A NASA mission slated for the 2020s to Jupiter’s icy moon will try to figure out if the ocean there is habitable.

Dinosaurs may not have seen the Grand Canyon after all

By Thomas Sumner 6:00am, June 18, 2015
New geologic comparisons peg the Grand Canyon’s inception well after dinosaurs went extinct.
Animals,, Evolution

Unpredictable egg scramble throws off parasitic parents

By Ashley Yeager 7:35pm, June 17, 2015
Eggs of some species of warbler and weaver birds appear to have individual signatures, which can help distinguish them from the eggs of parasitic cuckoos.
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