The internet could break completely tonight at midnight. The Earth's rotation is slowing down, which is why approximately every 18 months, we get an extra second.
Called a “leap second,” the extra second was being added since 1972 to rectify ‘lost’ time and to make sure the atomic clock is in sync with the Earth.
We humans (as well as basically every other living organism on the planet) have no problem with the added second, however computers are not that lucky.
A leap second was last added to the clock in 2012, during a weekend, which wreaked havoc online, The Next Web writes in a report. Now, people fear the same thing might happen tonight at midnight, when we get an extra second.
“Others that rely on time-critical systems — like stock markets and utilities — are nervous about it going wrong. A single second of downtime for a stock market means up to $4.6 million (£2.9m) could be lost,” The Next Web writes.
So what causes this issue?
A bug in the Network Time Protocol which keeps Linux system clocks in sync is mostly to blame. The flaw caused NTP to lock up some systems entirely, requiring a reboot before they could recover.
Back in 2012, the extra second knocked Reddit, Foursquare, Yelp, LinkedIn, Gawker and StumbleUpon off completely, and delayed hundreds of flights.
The second will be inserted into network time services at the exact same moment worldwide, on June 30th at 23:59:60 UTC. Let’s hope it all goes smooth tonight.