If you are on the ‘old continent’ whilst reading this and have noticed that you were late for your appointments this week, then for once it might not be your own fault.
Because of a peculiar electricity grid setup in Central Europe, alarm clocks have been running slow for about 6 minutes.
The reason for this is a dispute between former Yugoslavian territories and current EU membership applicants Kosovo and Serbia, which have affected Europe's power grid.
According to Entsoe (the European-wide body representing electricity transmission operators across the 25 continental European countries), bedside clocks slowed down by some six minutes since mid-January. This may sound strange but we can assure you it is true.
Central heating and oven clocks are similarly affected, computers and your mobile phone not because they run on another system.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">European clocks slowed by Serbia-Kosovo power grid row <a href="https://twitter.com/EURACTIV?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@EURACTIV</a> <a href="https://t.co/FOAiBj0FO3">https://t.co/FOAiBj0FO3</a> I was about to dump my alarm clock…</p>— Georgi Gotev (@GeorgiGotev) <a href="https://twitter.com/GeorgiGotev/status/971642610426306561?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 8, 2018</a></blockquote>
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You see, the whole of Europe is linked together into an electricity grid that operates at a synchronized frequency and every country is supposed to deliver its part of the necessary energy for the grid to operate.
What happened is that due to weather issues, Kosovo could not generate enough electricity to meet its needs. According to the European agreement in place, Serbia, its neighbor, is then legally obliged to meet Kosovo's demand.
However, given their territorial disputes over some areas as well as their longstanding hate of each other (Kosovo's unilaterally seceded from Serbia 10 years ago), Serbia decided not to step in.
Entsoe spokeswoman Ms Susanne Nies claims the problem has now been fixed: "The deviation stopped yesterday when Kosovo generated the energy it needs."
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None of the alarm clocks in the picture would use the mains frequency in that way.
Modern digital clocks use resonance of a quartz crystal to produce reliable accurate timing independent of the mains frequency.
These must be some weird soviet era clocks to have that problem.