[LEAPSECS] ISO Influence

Rob Seaman seaman at noao.edu
Sun Dec 19 14:20:31 EST 2010

On Dec 19, 2010, at 11:22 AM, Joe Gwinn wrote:

> At 10:47 AM -0700 12/19/10, Rob Seaman wrote:


>> Currently DUT1 is negligible for many purposes - this won't remain the case.


> In my career, I have encountered exactly one system that even knew what DUT1 is, and even so DUT1 was handled in application code, in the one place that could even understand the question.

Thanks for emphasizing my point. The current absence of evidence is not evidence for the lack of future problems. That UTC, as an implementation of Universal Time, approximates Greenwich Mean Time is an assumption deeply built into the fabric of systems and software and social procedures worldwide.

> The problem is that our various lists of advantages and disadvantages are not the same, so no single answer can work for all.

The problem is that the ITU has spent ten years unilaterally pursuing a non-answer. We've actually achieved a lot of consensus-building here, but you wouldn't know it because there is only this single Damoclean option hanging over our heads.

It is unsurprising that no "single answer" is available. That's because timekeeping comes in two flavors - interval timers and Earth orientation. True solutions will recognize this fact - either explicitly along the lines suggested by Steve Allen, or implicitly by minimizing the required maintenance through better scheduling as outlined by PHK. Interestingly enough, both of these options can be pursued without changing UTC at all.

Define a new timescale. Call it "TI", or "Coordinated Pan-Cosmic Time" if you like. Declare victory. Turn to the underlying and more interesting issues of building a bettor temporal mousetrap.

> The ITU, a creature of governments, will decide on the basis of what's best for the larger civil society,

Bwahahaha! ...mopping tears from my eyes... The ITU is not considering issues of "civil society" at all. They are listening to the imagined self-interests of one particular highly technical lobby suffering from tunnel vision.

> even at the expense of the sciences, astronomy being especially affected.

...well, that's certainly true :-)


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