Re: [LEAPSECS] UTC is doomed

From: Brian Garrett <>
Date: Thu, 24 Apr 2003 13:20:03 -0700

----- Original Message -----
From: "Steve Allen" <sla_at_UCOLICK.ORG>
Sent: Thursday, April 24, 2003 1:05 AM
Subject: Re: [LEAPSECS] UTC is doomed

> On Wed 2003-04-23T16:14:33 +0100, Ed Davies hath writ:
> > As I understand your argument it is that because leap seconds will
> > eventually become unworkable any unrelated reasons given for getting
> > rid of them in the short term are somehow weakened or invalidated.
> > Can this really be what you mean?
> No. I mean that there is no impending operational flaw in the
> definition of UTC which we have used since 1972. Any change in UTC
> must be motivated by other, broadly, justifiably, urgent reasons.
> Discontinuing leap seconds (or discontinuing them in favor of a leap
> hour to be effected in 600 years) is a change in civil time as
> fundamental as the adoption of the Gregorian calendar. That change
> was instigated by no less authority than a Pope, and it still took
> over 300 years for worldwide adoption.
> I grant that today there is considerably more economic pressure to
> achieve worldwide conformity on quicker timescales. Nevertheless, the
> laws of several major economic powers, technically and practically
> speaking, still indicate that UT2 is the legal timescale.
> If, within the window available before the DUT1 becomes noticeably
> large, the US were to attempt to legislate a change to TAI (or UTC
> without leap seconds) might the bill flounder if the new timescale
> were opposed with the epithet "French Time"? ("No thanks, we'll stick
> with our "Freedom Time".) Elsewhere, might certain fundamentalist
> governments find it difficult to adopt "Infidel Time"? This would be
> a recipe for chaos.

By the time the size of DUT1 reaches hit-the-fan levels, I suspect the
current political squabbles will have gone away and we'll have found a new
set of squabbles to occupy ourselves with that (one presumes) will not
directly involve the country in which BIPM is located. I can't imagine how
any time scale linked with TAI could possibly be associated in the mind of
any government with a particular nation, hostile or otherwise. There's no
underestimating the fanaticism of fundamentalist governments, of course, but
even the most oppressive governments we've seen in recent years have been
playing pretty much by the "rules" when it comes to zone time. As far as
"Infidel Time" goes, I understand the Islamic countries, particularly Saudi
Arabia, resisted zone time for decades in favor of local apparent solar
time, because to do otherwise plays havoc with scheduling the five daily
prayer times. Yet they've all successfully made the switch since then.
Clock issues seem to take a back seat to everything else when it comes to

Received on Thu Apr 24 2003 - 13:30:17 PDT

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