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June 30 has an extra second. Google will stop it from breaking the Internet

June 30 has an extra second. Google will stop it from breaking the Internet
photo courtesy of SHUTTERSTOCK

Remember the dreaded Y2K bug that threatened to destroy not only the Internet, but life itself? With Y2K, the common thought was that as 1999 turned into 2000, worldwide computer networks would crash in transition.

In short, this is because in computers, years were designed to be two-digit numbers instead of four, in order to save memory space. The logic was that while the computer could recognize 99 as 1999, it would identify 00 as 1900 and not 2000, collectively breaking the Internet and other networks. Then came panic, uncertainly, people rushing to build bunkers. Of course, everything worked itself out in the end.

But now, there's a similar problem that could break the Internet, but not if Google has anything to say about it. The search giant is hard at work to try and solve the problem before we see an outage or horrible meltdown.

Did you know that this year, June 30 will be one second longer? That might not sound like much to you and me, but to computers, "one Mississippi" could be a big issue.

Scientists at the International Earth Rotation Service announced that June 30th will have a "leap second" added, in order to compensate for the Earth's slowing rotation. Doing so will catch up our regular time with atomic time - the time most computer networks are synched with.

So much like with Y2K, this extra second can mess up some computer networks - they usually don't see the same second twice. And do any of us? This one little Mississippi can cause things to go haywire.

So in preparation, Google is developing a new technique to keep the computers from crashing called "leap smear."

Leap smear will be gradually adding milliseconds to its system clocks before June 30. Essentially, Google is tricking computers into thinking everything is OK by added much smaller and insignificant measurements.

The real question here is "Will it work?" The U.S. is opposed to the measures being taken, claiming that navigation systems will be disrupted, as well as timed money transactions and other communication systems. That being said, our neighbors across the pond in the U.K. favor these actions.

What do you think? Will Google mess up or save the Internet on June 30th? Let me know your thoughts by posting in the comments below.

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