Re: [LEAPSECS] what time is it, legally?

From: Richard B. Langley <>
Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2006 09:18:57 -0400 (AST)

For an overview of some of the legal issues of time see "GPS and the Legal
Traceability of Time" by Judah Levine in my GPS World Innovation column,
January 2001.
-- Richard Langley
   Professor of Geodesy and Precision Navigation
   and Contributing Editor, GPS World Magazine

On Mon, 11 Dec 2006, Steve Allen wrote:

>Longtime readers of LEAPSECS will remember that in the wake of the
>Torino colloquium we started joking about legal implications of civil
>time in the absence of leap seconds. This was before the Internet
>Mail Archive started recording the content of the list, and due to
>issues at USNO it was among the correspondence lost to the official
>archive as well. I have had it online at
>I ran across a rather lengthy article by Jenni Parrish of UC Hastings
>College of Law in the Akron Law Review.
>It is 47 pages of legal history regarding litigation in the US (and
>also a seminal case in the UK) during the advent of standard time.
>It is copiously footnoted with source references.
>I have not counted whether the majority of cases were about
>the time of liquor sales (an issue which had been resonating
>throughout the US for all of the same interval of time) or
>about contractual obligations of insurers.
>The bottom line is that the discussion in LEAPSECS was no joke, for
>people really did engage in court cases about the time on the clock.
>This history is apparently not lost to folks at NIST, for the US
>senate continues to consider legislation which would explicitly
>rewrite US legal time to be based on UTC (as locally interpreted)
>rather than Greenwich mean solar time. The most recent incarnation of
>the bill appeared in September as S3936, and section 1406 contains the
>text to make the change. See at
>(and note the trailing colon in the URL).
>The bill has a lot of cosponsors as seen in the links on Thomas.
>Clearly the passage of this bill would short circuit a litigation
>process which the Jenni Parrish document shows to have lasted for most
>of a lifetime.
>To end with some fun, here's a Flash clock application
>Steve Allen <> WGS-84 (GPS)
>UCO/Lick Observatory Natural Sciences II, Room 165 Lat +36.99858
>University of California Voice: +1 831 459 3046 Lng -122.06014
>Santa Cruz, CA 95064 Hgt +250 m

 Richard B. Langley E-mail:
 Geodetic Research Laboratory Web:
 Dept. of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering Phone: +1 506 453-5142
 University of New Brunswick Fax: +1 506 453-4943
 Fredericton, N.B., Canada E3B 5A3
     Fredericton? Where's that? See:
Received on Tue Dec 12 2006 - 05:20:09 PST

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