The Big Ben clock tower, April 8, 2013. Reuters/Luke MacGregor
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The answer: At 23:59 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) on June 30, when the world will experience a minute that will last 61 seconds.The reason for the weird event is something called the leap second.That's when timekeepers adjust high-precision clocks so that they are in sync with Earth's rotation, which is affected by the gravitational tug of the Sun and the Moon.Few of the planet's 7.25 billion people are likely to be aware of the change ... and even fewer will have set plans for how they will spend the extra moment. To be clear, the leap second is not something that needs to be added to that old clock on your mantelpiece.On Earth, big-data computers may be less manic than atomic clocks but still need highly precise internal timers.After all, if the world got rid of the leap second, time as counted by mankind would no longer be coupled to the exact rotation of the planet it lives on.
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