[LEAPSECS] nails in the coffin of mean solar time

Steve Allen sla at ucolick.org
Sat Jun 16 19:22:06 EDT 2007

On Sat 2007-06-16T16:50:27 -0600, M. Warner Losh hath writ:

> It doesn't necessarily end there. Since there will be a quadratic

> acceleration of leap seconds even doing one every 6 months will

> eventually lead to that as well. In a few thousand years, we'll need

> hundreds a year. That's not going to work at all.

In a few thousand years there should be people in orbit, on the moon,
and on Mars. The non-terrestrial communities will have little
interest in a POSIX standard that specifies 86400 SI seconds in a day.
They will know that it is physically impossible to maintain a uniform time
scale that is aligned to millisecond precision across all communities.

In short, they'll understand the difference between time of day,
coordinate time for the solar system as a whole, coordinate time as
defined suitably for the surface of their rocky body (if any), and
proper time as counted by precision clocks in their lab.

The danger of just dropping leap seconds is in perpetuating the notion
that there is only one kind of time that is relevant to humans.
Leap seconds are an irritant that inhibit people from inventing
systems that will delude themselves by pretending that clocks can
always agree on a uniform time that never needs resetting.

Steve Allen <sla at ucolick.org> WGS-84 (GPS)
UCO/Lick Observatory Natural Sciences II, Room 165 Lat +36.99855
University of California Voice: +1 831 459 3046 Lng -122.06015
Santa Cruz, CA 95064 http://www.ucolick.org/~sla/ Hgt +250 m

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