The day the Internet died; leap second too much for some sites

Associated Press
Associated Press

The world adjusted its clocks Saturday, adding one little second and knocking some popular Internet web sites off line.

A number of technology sites, including Cnet, describe outages at Internet companies with some Amazon servers and a number of others.  Amazon hosts a number of services, such as Instagram and Netflix.

Yelp, Reddit and the Gawker network also reportedly suffered problems.

At 12 a.m., Greenwich Mean Time, atomic clocks across the globe inserted a leap second, or paused for a second, to account for the rotation of the planet.

That tiny little moment in time caused a virtual hurricane in the computer world because it turns out, servers, networks and laptops sync their clocks with atomic clocks.

The computers failed to handle the pause in time because they saw the same second twice in a row and crashed. reported problems with Linux servers, and BuzzFeed described problems at FourSquare, Yelp, LinkedIn, Gawker and StumbleUpon.

Some tech giants appear to have been better prepared for others.

Wired reported that Google was anticipating this moment, outlining months ago its strategy for handling the leap second threat.

The need for the extra second results from a combination of factors, including the Earth slowing down a smidgen from the pull of the moon and an atomic clock that runs ever so slightly fast.

The time it takes the Earth to rotate on its axis, which is the definition of a day, is now about two milliseconds longer than it was 100 years ago, according to U.S. Naval Observatory, keeper of the official U.S. atomic clocks.

Timekeepers add that leap second every few years to keep the sun at its highest point at noon in standard time.

The Naval Observatory has said the next leap second probably will happen in 2015 or 2016.