[LEAPSECS] happy anniversary pips

Warner Losh imp at bsdimp.com
Tue Feb 11 11:51:56 EST 2014

On Feb 11, 2014, at 9:46 AM, Rob Seaman wrote:

> On Feb 11, 2014, at 9:31 AM, Tony Finch <dot at dotat.at> wrote:


>> Warner Losh <imp at bsdimp.com> wrote:


>>> Perhaps, but leap seconds are a solution to the problem that must die in

>>> the fullness of time. With the quadratic acceleration there will come a

>>> time in a few thousand years when one leap second a month or day isn't

>>> enough and another solution will be necessary to keep things in sync. So

>>> in a way, leap seconds are putting a band-aide over the problem until

>>> everybody alive today is dead too...


>> Yes. And time zone adjustments will be able to keep civil time in sync

>> with earth rotation for a much longer time than leap seconds :-)


> Nonsense! However expressed the embargoed leap seconds accumulate at exactly the same rate during any particular epoch, and the long term tidal trend will present the same challenge.


> Also nonsense to suggest that there is any urgency whatsoever since the current UTC standard is practical for many centuries even without expanding beyond December and June. This is a manufactured crisis.

The effects of those leap seconds are a clear and present danger. Otherwise, we wouldn't be talking about this. The question isn't "how long can we keep this up." but rather "why are we doing this at all?"

> That said, the fact that we're all still here 15 years later suggests significant community interest in working on civil timekeeping issues and infrastructure in general. How much further along we would be if we hadn't just spent those 15 years attempting to quash the naive and dangerous ITU proposal being pushed by special interests.

People have been working for the past 15 years to make leap seconds better, yet in the last leap second all Linux kernels crashed due to a subtle bug that is only triggered when there was a leap second. This bug, in turn, took down many servers, reducing the capacity at many service providers significantly until human intervention could reboot the systems with a new kernel. Doesn't sound like we've made much progress on making this robust in the past 15 years...


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