WP7A press release

From: Rob Seaman <seaman_at_noao.edu>
Date: Wed, 16 Nov 2005 10:59:44 -0700


The attached WP7A press release states that the working party has
decided that more time is required to build consensus. It does not,
however, suggest that any other proposals will be entertained. I
look forward to whatever efforts the working party will undertake to
build consensus - presumably that consensus must extend outside of
the WP and the ITU in general? Here are a few suggestions for
activities that would tend to support the creation of a healthy,
robust, multi-community consensus:

        1) Host a well advertised conference to discuss the various issues
in the broad context they deserve.

        2) Focus on improving the infrastructure for distributing time
signals of all types.

        3) Perhaps the WP7A members might participate in public discussions
about the issues?

        4) Clearly identify the several factors that underly civil time and
consider the several possibilities inherent in addressing these
factors separately.

I happen to believe that civil time should remain tied to solar
time. But this is a separate issue than whether leap seconds are the
mechanism for achieving this goal. And UTC's reliance on leap
seconds is a separate issue than whether civil time should continue
to itself rely on UTC. The large effort expended over the past half
dozen years in single-mindedly pursuing this monolithic leap hour
gimmick, could far better have been invested in clearly laying out
the challenges we face and in openly entertaining the wide variety of
possibilities underlying civil timekeeping.

Proponents of a civil time change would realize a lot of progress
toward building the consensus they now admit to seeking, if they
would simply honor the current concept of Coordinated Universal
Time. UTC is a member of the large family of Universal Time scales
that each represent close approximations to the useful concept of
Greenwich Mean Time. If you want to propose an international civil
time standard without leap seconds, start by calling it something
other than UTC. Leap seconds are intrinsic to the concept of UTC.

Allow civil timekeeping proposals to succeed or fail on their own
merits - not by some trick of the standards process.

Rob Seaman
National Optical Astronomy Observatory

Received on Wed Nov 16 2005 - 10:01:26 PST

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