[LEAPSECS] nails in the coffin of mean solar time

Rob Seaman seaman at noao.edu
Fri Jun 15 11:21:08 EDT 2007

On Jun 15, 2007, at 1:42 AM, Poul-Henning Kamp wrote:

> Everybody with a checkbook were potential victims of Y2K bugs.


> Changes to, including abolishment of, leapseconds will only affect

> people who measure positions of celestial objects with high precision.

One cost is the uneven burden of remediation to those who would be
definitely affected by this redefinition of universal time. ("GMT
may be regarded as the general equivalent of UT.") Astronomy would
indeed be facing a very large unfunded mandate merely to retain our
current functionality.

> There is at least a 1.000.000:1 ratio between those two populations

> worldwide.

The other, much larger cost will be borne by the very much wider
community of those potentially affected. The cost of Y2K was so
large because of the inventories that had to be conducted of vast
swaths of software and embedded systems.

I know it is a article of faith with some that nothing outside of
astronomy and sextant navigation could possibly care about mean solar
time - but that doesn't make it a true assertion. In particular, I
believe a dispassionate observer has great reason to be concerned
with dependencies, potential and established, in DOD systems.

I used the subjunctive "would", above, for the cost to astronomy
since this only kicks in when the policy actually changes. At some
point the cost of the DUT1 inventory will kick in merely at the
report of a possible change to the definition of UTC. I suggest that
the precision timekeeping community should bear the cost since it is
their actions that will have triggered it.

Rob Seaman

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