Re: [LEAPSECS] the legacy of ephemeris time

From: Steve Allen <>
Date: Sun, 21 Dec 2003 21:19:29 -0800

On Mon 2003-12-08T10:36:58 -0500, Seeds, Glen hath writ:
> Of course, we still have this massive legacy of systems that don't follow
> these rules...

The legacy systems unfortunately have to exert a lot of the force in
choosing the ultimate decision. But the results of the conference in
Torino imply that the legacy systems have already lost. Because the
plan from Torino says that name UTC is not going to be carried
forward, almost every legacy system is broken at least in the name
specified by its documentation.

Maybe some folks found that the Australian market systems provided
opportunities for arbitrage during June 30/July 1 leap seconds, but
without a detailed description of what problems are being experienced
when leap seconds happen it is still hard to tell what is going on.

Leap seconds are apparently unlike the old joke. "Doctor it hurts
when I do this" seems not to be followed by "Well, don't do that."
A good doctor would refer a patient to a physical therapist who would
explore the problem and find ways to work with and around it.
The option of discontinuing leap seconds is more like surgery.
Perhaps the threat of surgery is necessary in order to motivate
the patients to work with the physical therapists.

If a drastic change is scheduled for 2022, it would be a real shame
not to take advantage of that to once and for all replace legacy
systems (which currently have a single confused time scale) with new
systems (that understand the distinction between earth rotation and
time). If that replacement is not done as part of a 2022 makeover
then it will surely be even more difficult later.

Steve Allen          UCO/Lick Observatory       Santa Cruz, CA 95064      Voice: +1 831 459 3046
PGP: 1024/E46978C5   F6 78 D1 10 62 94 8F 2E    49 89 0E FE 26 B4 14 93
Received on Sun Dec 21 2003 - 21:19:50 PST

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