Re: [LEAPSECS] Leap second status?

From: John Cowan <jcowan_at_REUTERSHEALTH.COM>
Date: Tue, 3 Dec 2002 18:31:24 -0500

Rob Seaman scripsit:

> Well, actually - terminating the issuance of leap seconds is the only
> proposal still remaining on the table:

Ah, I missed that.

> And how precisely does rebuilding our clocks help? Can anyone suggest
> a specific fix for this problem? Will a day consist of something other
> than 86,400 seconds?

I think so, indeed. When the solar day becomes four megaseconds (or whatever
the upper limit is before it starts slowing due to Moon-Earth tidal locking) in
length, we will look pretty silly continuing to claim that there are only
86,400 "seconds" in it.

> In summary, a long term solution is to periodically (like every few
> thousand years) redefine the second to handle the long term trend,

Auuugh! The second has *nothing* to do with the Earth's rotation!
You might as well say "If people move to Mars, let them redefine the
second locally so that there are exactly 31556925.216 seconds in each martian
tropical year."

No, no, the second is a fundamental unit of time duration. It must not
be futzed with. If civil time has to be kept in sync with astronomical
time, it will have to accept that some days are longer than others (or
that days aren't an even number of seconds in duration, which would be
far worse).

> Alternative solutions - *independent* of any retooling of our clocks -
> require that our species change to the point that technology matters
> more to us than the variation between night and day. A pretty future?

As a person who works days but is currently getting up before sunrise and
leaving work after sunset, I already pretty much feel that way.

> If they can't handle the current standard - why should we think they
> will handle changes to that standard any better?

It depends, obviously, on whether the changes are toward simplification or
away from it.

Long-short-short, long-short-short / Dactyls in dimeter,
Verse form with choriambs / (Masculine rhyme):
One sentence (two stanzas) / Hexasyllabically
Challenges poets who / Don't have the time.     --robison who's at texas dot net
Received on Tue Dec 03 2002 - 15:45:35 PST

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