Re: [LEAPSECS] more media coverage

From: Rob Seaman <>
Date: Wed, 23 Jul 2003 09:42:11 -0700 (MST)

Steve Allen says:

> As news coverage goes, the apparent tone underlying that interview was
> of the "oh God they've stuck a camera and microphone in my face and I
> can't extrapolate a random variable with a quadratic trend in my head"
> ilk.

Like many software topics, the reporter (and likely the interviewee)
also got the central issue upside down. Orders of magnitude more
potential Y2K-like problems arise from abandoning leap seconds as from
continuing them. In the latter case, it is only highly technical
projects requiring unsegmented time - and who have, for some reason,
chosen not to use TAI - who are facing issues with leap seconds.

(Also, if these technical projects haven't demonstrated the capacity
to deal with leap seconds, why should we believe they will demonstrate
any greater capacity to deal with DUT > 0.9s?)

In the case of abandoning leap seconds, however, it is every
community that uses time-of-day (meaning everybody, more-or-less)
that may potentially be affected. One would expect that at least
as many "applications" worldwide depend on time-of-day as depend
on date formats. Many such applications will (over the course of
the next few decades or centuries) not care about leap seconds.
Many will - and the number of users and their applications (meaning
people, their jobs and what they do in their private lives) who do
care will grow as civil time and UT1/GMT diverge.

Y2K had a razor sharp deadline. L2K (or L3K?) is a timebomb with a
slow burning fuse.

Rob Seaman
National Optical Astronomy Observatory
Received on Wed Jul 23 2003 - 09:42:23 PDT

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