[LEAPSECS] Toasting Unix timestamp 1234567890

Rob Seaman seaman at noao.edu
Sat Feb 14 10:24:30 EST 2009

Magnus Danielson wrote:

> However, celebrating 1234567890 seconds of time_t makes no sense at

> the time that time_t reads 1234567890 since it is not the number of

> seconds from the reference epoch, it is a form of "mock seconds" to

> make the scales fit.

Is that really a good reason not to celebrate a silly milestone on a
Friday afternoon? :-)

This is like the inane debate about whether the millennium was New
Year's Eve 1999 or 2000. The real answer is to celebrate both - as a
reason to have a most excellent party, that is. If forced to choose,
pick the earlier event since that preserves the second opportunity as

>> I think it's clear that Unix time has the well-established naive

>> mapping to some form of UT. You can pick UT1 or UTC, giving

>> answers that differ by a fraction of a second. Anything that

>> secularly counts other than 86400 per UT day isn't Unix time: this

>> includes counting either UTC or TAI seconds.


> It is naive yes...

From Dictionary.com:

naive -adjective
1. having or showing unaffected simplicity of nature or absence of
artificiality; unsophisticated; ingenuous.
2. having or showing a lack of experience, judgment, or information;
credulous: She's so naive she believes everything she reads. He has a
very naive attitude toward politics.
3. having or marked by a simple, unaffectedly direct style reflecting
little or no formal training or technique: valuable naive 19th-century
American portrait paintings.
4. not having previously been the subject of a scientific experiment,
as an animal.

The little dig here, of course, is that Zefram means naive with a
definition something like #1 and Magnus is asserting #2.

However - there is real value in preserving simplicity of design as
with definition #3. Zefram's explanation is succinct and accurate.
UTC is a flavor of universal time. UT is phase-locked to the Sun.

Meanwhile, while we chat amiably, the ITU is treating the whole world
like #4.


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