[LEAPSECS] Schedule for success

Poul-Henning Kamp phk at phk.freebsd.dk
Tue Dec 30 20:32:35 EST 2008

In message <495AC294.8020809 at cox.net>, Greg Hennessy writes:


>> What would NASA have done, had the British Parliament done something

>> silly to GMT in the middle of the shuttle landing ?


>Nothing, since they use UTC, even though many people incorrectly call it GMT.

But which "many people" are we talking about here ?

It makes a big difference is it is "Joe the Plumber" or "John der Rocket
Scientist", doesn't it ?

Lets not jump to conclusions, lets (for once) take Robs advice and
do this systematically:

Why is the report using GMT ?

A) Not everybody at NASA got the memo, and even some rocket scientists
don't know or care about the difference between UTC and GMT.

B) It was translated from UTC to GMT in editing, because somebody
along the way assumed that the readers would not understand UTC ?

C) Ditto, but some style manual mandated it.

Given that you get 1840 hits in google if you search for

utc gmt site:nasa.gov

I find theory C entirely unpersuasive: NASA is clearly not afraid
to lecture the public about the difference between UTC and GMT.

If, for the argument, we assume theory A to be false, then it follows
that whichever editor or secretary did the vandalism in theory B,
(or for that matter: C) would have gotten a scolding lecture by one
of the involved rocket scientist, who would have insisted that the
change to GMT be backed out immediately.

Obviously, this did not happen, and it follows that whoever changed
it from UTC to GMT did not get a lecture by a rocket scientist.

QED: rocket scientists are not educated well enough to, or can not
be bothered to, react when they see a national british timescale
used instead of a the proper UTC timescale.

Now, do you belive me when I say that 99+% of all programmers
wouldn't get a leap-second right if they even knew what it was ?


Poul-Henning Kamp | UNIX since Zilog Zeus 3.20
phk at FreeBSD.ORG | TCP/IP since RFC 956
FreeBSD committer | BSD since 4.3-tahoe
Never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by incompetence.

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