[LEAPSECS] ITU-R SG7 to consider UTC on October 4

M. Warner Losh imp at bsdimp.com
Fri Aug 6 01:22:49 EDT 2010

In message: <1a42833a2c1188ff827608c698c484f3.squirrel at mx.pipe.nl>
"Nero Imhard" <nimh at pipe.nl> writes:

: Rob Seaman wrote:


: > The simplest and most direct (and most likely to succeed) way to

: > achieve a goal of removing leap seconds from civil timekeeping would

: > be to advocate GPS timekeeping as the alternative.


: I don't see how it could be achieved. It's a matter of control. The

: definition of UTC is something the ITU supposedly has influence over, but

: the definition of civil (or legal) time in country X certainly isn't.


: I assume that they have concluded that fulfilling the requirement to use

: civil would be easier without leap seconds. So, instead of asking every

: government on the planet to use another time scale for civil time, it is

: much easier for ITU to excercise their control over the time scale

: currently used by the vast majority of countries and just fix it from

: their own end.


: My question is: does this UN agency, acting in the interest of the

: telecommunications world only, actually have the authority to change the

: definition of UTC (which is in use for other purposes as well), and, if

: yes, does anyone see how such a horror could be fixed?


: I say "horror" because fundamentally changing a definition (as is proposed

: for UTC) feels like some kind of betrayal, a serious scientific sin, a

: demonstration of unreliability, and contempt for anyone who ever has based

: any decisions on the original definition. Obviously "being a reliable and

: dependable shepherd of UTC" isn't in the interest of the current shepherd,

: so something needs to change here. But what exactly and how?

Chances are that any divergence between the rotation of the earth and
UTC is unlikely to be noticed by enough people to stop this from
happening, if the ITU says this "technical adjustment" needs to be
made. The Astronomers are affected the most, but there's not a lot of
them and their power isn't huge. Few navigate by the stars anymore,
now that GPS is there. Most people live at a location where their
daily time doesn't match solar time, so a few seconds this way or that
isn't likely to bother them much. If the ITU puts its technical stamp
of approval on a chance, I'm doubtful much can be done...


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