[LEAPSECS] a big week for leaps at SG7 and WP7A

Stephen Colebourne scolebourne at joda.org
Tue Sep 30 10:05:29 EDT 2014

On 30 September 2014 11:43, Tony Finch <dot at dotat.at> wrote:
> Stephen Colebourne <scolebourne at joda.org> wrote:
>> I can safely say from my experience there, that if leap seconds are
>> abolished it will not be with the British peoples approval.
> I got the impression from the emphasis on non-technical aspects that the
> consultation was designed to get that answer. It's easy to persuate the
> British public to vote no.
> And I seem to remember from reading the materials that they also ignored
> the cultural damage that was done by the introduction of leap seconds in
> the first place, breaking a multi-thousand-year tradition of base 60
> fractions, making all mechanical clocks obsolete, and so on.

The consultation seemed to be based on a fair and reasonable setup. I
can well understand that the proponents of change think non-scientific
issues shouldn't matter, but IMO its the lack of consideration of
those that has been a big flaw in the whole process. One could
definitely say that participants value the meaning of a day as defined
by the Sun more highly than any second based clock, atomic or

There was also incredulity that the smart people who they rely on to
run complex machines like atomic clocks can't manage to get every NTP
server in the world to send out the same piece of information that
actually tells everyone it is a leap second. After all the process of
updating NTP is best described as "some bloke sends out an email and
everyone has to manually update their NTP servers". The participants
expected this kind of stuff to be automated and just work, not for the
smart people to be spending all their time trying to weasel out of
fixing what we have and in the meantime destroying the notion of a
solar day.

(I'm using a little hyperbole, but basically even after it being
explained in detail, the participants pretty much all agreed that
while the removal of leap seconds wouldn't make much difference to
them personally, they did not support the change. And yes, there was
astonishment that the smart people can't get the current system right,
particularly around NTP leap second broadcasts.)


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