Re: [LEAPSECS] how posterity will measure time

From: Zefram <>
Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2006 09:45:40 +0000

Steve Allen wrote:
>So it seems that when it comes to communicating a span of time
>to a civilization other than our own the solution that the best
>minds have produced is an astronomical one.

I've read quite a lot about WIPP. It forces one into a refreshingly
unusual viewpoint.

In addition to the phenomena you mentioned, one of the proposals for WIPP
would have used the shapes of constellations to identify time periods.

They have chosen this mechanism because the astronomical phenomena are
culture-independent, robust across fall of civilisation, easily observed,
and change visibly over the right timescales for WIPP. Precision and
linearity are, of course, not relevant considerations.

(The plans for a pulsar-based timescale would achieve some of these
features in a precision timescale. They're not easily observed, but
given sufficient tech level would allow recovery of precise time across
a fall of civilisation.)

> but this does provide an interesting viewpoint on how posterity
>might interpret the actions of the ITU-R, whether they abandon or not.

Not particularly, I think. WIPP's choice of timescale is optimised for
this most unusual communication situation. Future civilisations are
unlikely to use polar precession as a day-to-day measure of the passage
of time, and would not expect us to have done so either. Posterity will
interpret ITU-R's decision as a response to the contemporary needs of
this culture.

Received on Mon Dec 04 2006 - 01:54:18 PST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Sat Sep 04 2010 - 09:44:55 PDT