[LEAPSECS] Schedule for success

Daniel R. Tobias dan at tobias.name
Tue Dec 30 07:28:28 EST 2008

On 30 Dec 2008 at 11:57, Zefram wrote:

> You can't fix this problem of incorrect nomenclature usage by changing

> the meaning of one of the names. Please don't damage the nomenclature

> for those who use it successfully.

Steven Pinker (who's been cited on this list before) had an
interesting discussion in his book "The Stuff of Thought" about
whether a thing referred to by a word in human language preserves its
basic nature if the underlying technical definition changes, using
thought experiments such as an alternate world that uses the label
"water" for a substance that isn't H2O but serves all the same
functions water does here on Earth; or the case where people suddenly
realize that the creatures they call "cats" are actually sentient
aliens; would they still be cats then? It seems like the varous
scientific redefinitions of the second, and other units like days and
years that are ultimately defined in terms of it, are a similar sort
of thing. Non-scientists will be surprised to learn that a "day" is
no longer the length of time it takes the earth to complete a
rotation; so, is a day still a day? Those were the days, my friend.

== Dan ==
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