Re: [LEAPSECS] the tail wags the dog

From: Rob Seaman <>
Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2006 08:35:39 -0700

On Jan 24, 2006, at 8:06 AM, Ed Davies wrote:

> James Maynard wrote:
>> The problem is not that the SI second is not based on a natural
>> phenonemon (it is), but that the periods of the various natural
>> phenonema (rotations of the earth about its axis revolutions of the
>> earth about the sun, revolutions of the moon around the earth,
>> etc.) are
>> both incommensurate and changing.
> Not to mention the hyperfine wibbles of caesium-133.

...and we wonder why our less technically oriented loved ones tune
out when we start to speak :-)

Point taken - these are all natural phenomena. But then, so are all
the other issues we've ever raised.

The rotation of the Earth and the revolutions of its Moon are natural
phenomena we have little ability (and less reason) to attempt to
control. "Hyperfine wibbles" are things that humans can hope to tame
in various ways. No one disputes that our clocks have been improved
wondrously - but the point of a good clock is the point of other
technology, to tame nature in the service of mankind. (Taming
mankind in the service of nature? Hmm - there's a thought.)

The question on the table is whether mankind is better served by
gracefully accommodating the charming quirks of Earth and Moon - or
whether we should attempt to impose a metric standard, inappropriate
to the purpose.

Received on Tue Jan 24 2006 - 07:36:22 PST

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