[LEAPSECS] Skepticism

Nero Imhard nimh at pipe.nl
Thu Dec 30 19:27:36 EST 2010

On 2010-12-31, at 01:06, Jonathan E. Hardis wrote:


> The only question is whether there is enough justification to keep DUT1 at 0.9 seconds or less to warrant an awkward and despised systems of leap seconds (that are erratic, unpredictable, non-uniformly spaced, and by-and-large unimplemented in the contemporary digital infrastructure). If, as many believe, 0.9 seconds is "over toleranced" (in this age of time zones, sundials lost out long ago as an engineering requirement), then we can safely stop declaring leap seconds for awhile. It would take hundreds of years for atomic time and sundial time to diverge by more than a few minutes -- and that's plenty of time to reengineer a more permanent and appropriate solution. LATER one can have ANOTHER discussion about perhaps adopting leap-second schemes with regular and predictable insertions (like we do with days in leap years), or "leap minutes," or ... whatever. There is much less urgency to reach consensus on the next phase before deciding -- simply -- whether the current system of leap seconds is doing more harm or good.

Desperately trying to keep things straight in my head (and now on the list) under all the confusing chatter of how the whole debate is somehow about the merits of leap seconds. Would you agree that the ITU-R recommendation is about scrapping the coupling between UTC and UT by redefining UTC (and thus more about the merits of having UTC tied to UT than about the machanism through which this is realized)?

Those who have difficulties with leap seconds in UTC and don't sufficiently care about UT to come up with a proposal for an alternative synchronization mechnism, should seriously wonder if they are using the the right time scale for their purposes. And if it's a matter of legal obligation, they should talk to the legislators who make them use UTC. If the (scientific or whatever) community comes up with a time standard that is well-defined and widely available, and the industry (ITU?) makes a good case (as they will), I'm sure they (legislators) would make a switch.

Changing an existing standard in one of its defining properties behind the back of everyone (including legislators) is what the outcry on this list is all about.


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