Re: Torino meeting and implications of international time >> UT1

From: Steve Allen <>
Date: Thu, 5 Jun 2003 10:38:03 -0700

On Thu 2003-06-05T17:46:38 +0100, Markus Kuhn hath writ:
> Ron Beard: Several calls of the SRG have not resulted in any substantial
> data on what a change would cost or damage.

I would not slight the efforts that have been made thus far, but to
claim that the SRG has adequately made calls is hogwash.

I have been trying to gather cost estimates of eliminating leap
seconds, and I know that it is not easy. Much of the problem is that
people do not understand how deeply their systems depend on leap
seconds. It takes an enormous amount of pedagogy to motivate a
response. As noted in the title of my last posting, the SRG has made
too little effort in that direction. There should be detailed
published explanations of systems which are known to have difficulties
with leap seconds, and also of systems which are known not to have
difficulties with leap seconds.

The question before the SRG cannot be answered in satisfaction to
everyone. Basically it amounts to asking "who do we screw, and how
gently do we screw them?" So far I perceive the SRG's strategy to be
inconsiderate to astronomers and posterity, among others.

> William Klepczynski: In safety-critical navigation systems, leap seconds
> will over time cause catastrophic system failures that will cost many
> lives. This long-term risk should justify even considerable one-off
> expenses to fix permanently the problem of a commonly used non-uniform
> precision timescale.

I rebut that any system whose designers cannot implement a
specification as clearly spelled out as the current scheme for UTC has
much worse things to worry about than leap seconds.

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 Thu Jun 05 2003 - 10:38:19 PDT

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