Re: [LEAPSECS] mining for data about time - Reply

From: Rob Seaman <>
Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2003 09:06:15 -0700 (MST)

Without paying undue attention to Mr. Johnson's indecipherable message,
I think Mr. Cowan's reply deserves a bit more discussion:

> Consider the angular diameter of the Sun and the Moon as seen from
> the Earth. They are the same within 10% (worst case), and the
> discrepancy can be as small as 0%. Coincidence? I think so!

As anybody who has been blessed with the opportunity to attend traffic
school can attest - there are no accidents, only collisions. The word
"coincidence" suggests a purely random process. "Random" itself, of
course, means nothing until you know the shape of the distribution from
which the samples are selected. Are we to posit a canonical ensemble
of Earth/Moon pairs (or rather, of Earth/Moon/Sun triplets) with some
simple gaussian distribution?

Well, no - because that likely wouldn't well describe the dynamics
of planetary and lunar formation and the orbital evolution of solar
system objects. I see that Mr. Bunclark has beaten me to the anthropic
punchline, but the reality is that Earth's history (and our place in it)
has been deeply influenced by the Moon. Just ask the Venusians.

Leap seconds are simply one more signature of the conjoined history of
our planet and its satellite. You can pretend that the Moon doesn't
exist, but whatever else it is - it ain't just a coincidence.

Note that the notion of adjusting the Earth's motion through the
impoundment of water has a long history. It certainly has been
mentioned before (and discarded :-) in our excrutiating deliberations:

(Search on the word "absurd".)

Rob Seaman
National Optical Astronomy Observatory
Received on Tue Aug 19 2003 - 09:06:34 PDT

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