[LEAPSECS] Time is changing in Venezuela

Steve Allen sla at ucolick.org
Tue Sep 25 01:49:57 EDT 2007

On Tue 2007-09-25T00:26:53 -0400, Daniel R. Tobias hath writ:

> On 24 Sep 2007 at 19:58, Tony Finch wrote:

> > I don't remember any discussions at the Washington Conference about

> > restrictions on the scope of their universal time system.


> That conference was in 1884, so if you attended it you must be a new

> record-holder for oldest living person... contact the Guinness Book!

It's well worth reading through the proceedings, especially
between the lines and with the hindsight of another 120 years.

See how the Frenchman Janssen probed Adams about who discovered
Neptune, still a hot topic then with hidden truths that were only
discovered a decade ago when some papers from England were found
stashed away in a cubby in Chile.

See how the US DoS managed not to find a French stenographer for
a full two weeks, thus burdening the French delegates with both
participating and taking notes for themselves.

See how the US DoS managed to load the membership such that France
could clearly see they were being railroaded.

See how the folks who had working time zone schemes (the American
railroads), and unworkable ones, all presented their notions and then
withdrew them.

See how Simon Newcomb was invited to speak, but when he openly
recognized that the Frenchman Janssen had a very good point about the
impracticability of choosing a fixed zero he was basically shushed and
rushed out never to appear again. Then read Newcomb's memoirs for a
rewrite of history of what happened. So that when BIH was
eventually created and given the opportunity to solve the problem that
Janssen had metioned and Newcomb had recognized, the French got to say
where the International Meridian now is (and it doesn't pass through
the Airy transit in Greenwich). And the fact that Newcomb was a polyglot
as well as a polymath meant that he used a literal translation from the
French, but which doesn't really make sense in English, and that nearly
rifted a scientific relationship within the past decade.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

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

More information about the LEAPSECS mailing list