Re: [LEAPSECS] Leap-second scare stories

From: John.Cowan <jcowan_at_REUTERSHEALTH.COM>
Date: Sat, 30 Jul 2005 11:35:30 -0400

Markus Kuhn scripsit:

> I'm sorry, but I find these three badly documented second or
> third-hand rumours of leap-second scare stories neither very scary nor
> very convincing.

No more they are, and thanks for the pointers to debunking articles.

> It introduces leap hours into a time scale (UTC) that is so widely
> used in computer networks exactly *because* (unlike civilian local
> time) it is free of any disruptive DST leap hours!

This, however, is itself badly in need of debunking.

AFAICT, *nobody* is proposing the insertion of whole hours into universal
time (lower-case generic term) either now or in a few centuries. Rather,
the proposal is that as the difference between a particular LCT and the
corresponding LMT becomes uncomfortably large, a change in the offset
between universal and LCT can be made. This can happen piecemeal at the
convenience of the citizens of various countries rather than top-down
by fiat, as leap seconds are inserted now.

And considering that the LCT of Kashi in China is near enough the LMT
of Qingdao, some 44 degrees to the east, people are already tolerating
differences you and I might call uncomfortably large.

In the end numbers on a clockface are just numbers on a clockface, and
though it can be annoying that one's daytime is spread over two different
calendar days (already true for me who is rarely in bed before midnight
LCT, and even more true for shiftworkers), one can live with it.

> Let's not forget that this proposal is all about replacing a
> reasonably frequent minor distruption (UTC leap seconds) with a very
> rare catastrophically big one (UTC leap hours).

No, it's about replacing an irregularly scheduled minor glitch in
what should be a uniform time scale with irregularly scheduled
major glitches in time scales (the 400-odd LCTs worldwide) that
no one expects to be either uniform or predictable, but where
measures to deal with these problems are already very much in place.

Newbies always ask:                             John Cowan
  "Elements or attributes?            
Which will serve me best?"            
  Those who know roar like lions;     
  Wise hackers smile like tigers.                   --a tanka, or extended haiku
Received on Sat Jul 30 2005 - 08:35:45 PDT

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