[LEAPSECS] Coming of age in the solar system

Rob Seaman seaman at noao.edu
Sat Sep 4 02:33:42 EDT 2010

The flip side of timekeeping on a spinning pebble skipping through the cosmos is that nothing prevents *also* benefitting from an atomic timescale devoid of the dreaded irregular radix.

Civil time = mean solar time
Techie time = atomic clock ensemble

Have your cake and eat it, too!

...although one wouldn't think that a bunch of poindexters who can build an ensemble of atomic clocks out of second-hand flux capacitors and scratch-and-dent dilithium crystals would be thrown into a tizzy by any radix, irregular or not.

I've just realized that the archive for the early years of this list is offline, otherwise I'd be pointing to discussions about how leap seconds are just an issue of representation, about how atomic time (an unending sequence of ticks) shouldn't be using sexagesimal at all, and about why the SI unit of time should really never have been called the "second" in the first place.


On Sep 3, 2010, at 9:03 PM, M. Warner Losh wrote:

> In message: <9FF72199-4479-43A4-B988-516E5336EAED at noao.edu>

> Rob Seaman <seaman at noao.edu> writes:

> : Q: Why was the SI second chosen such that 24x60x60 of them fit into one solar day?

> : A: Because everybody else keeps time by the Sun - sexagesimally since the Sumerians.


> Except on leap second day, when the sexagesimalliness breaks with an

> irregular radix. In effect, the proposal to stop inserting leap

> seconds restores this invariant that goes back to the Sumerians by

> eliminating the irregular radix :)


> Warner

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