Re: [LEAPSECS] trading amplitude for scheduling

From: Rob Seaman <>
Date: Fri, 4 Aug 2006 11:37:01 -0700

John Cowan accepts the blame:

>> 1) We have leap seconds because the SI second is shorter
>> than 1/86,400 of a mean solar day.

> Post in haste, repent at leisure (I've been going with too little
> sleep lately, for reasons unknown...) I actually do know that
> the earth rotates in less than 1 mean solar day.

Blame for what? I'm left wondering. Are we now fretting about
the distinction between sidereal and solar time again? Or perhaps
about the so-called equation of time - itself merely a cumulative
effect of the roughly +/- 30s excursions of length of day. I thought
John's explication of the two differing clock rate issue was pretty
sound - other than my usual comments on point of view.

We have seen lots of examples of how even experienced "users"
of time can find themselves saying things that are imprecisely or
incorrectly phrased. To some extent, this whole debate is really
a question of whether it is therefore better to try to sweep these
complications under the carpeting - or rather, whether such an
attempt would be kind of - well - nutty.

A leap hour is just 3600 embargoed leap seconds. The best
interests of precision timekeeping will surely be better served
by seizing 3600 separate opportunities to educate the public
about the need for precision timekeeping. Consider that the
recent leap second made the front page of major newspapers,
generated dozens of magazine articles, and even produced
discussion on TV and radio (and certainly the internet). A least
one artist has taken the leap second debate as inspiration.

I'm skeptical that the ALHP can succeed. But imagine it does.
What would the result be? One big result will be that precision
timekeeping will vanish almost completely from public discourse
and international policy making. Where is the benefit?

Received on Fri Aug 04 2006 - 11:37:41 PDT

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