Re: [LEAPSECS] UTC is doomed

From: Steve Allen <>
Date: Thu, 24 Apr 2003 01:05:22 -0700

On Wed 2003-04-23T16:14:33 +0100, Ed Davies hath writ:
> As I understand your argument it is that because leap seconds will
> eventually become unworkable any unrelated reasons given for getting
> rid of them in the short term are somehow weakened or invalidated.
> Can this really be what you mean?

No. I mean that there is no impending operational flaw in the
definition of UTC which we have used since 1972. Any change in UTC
must be motivated by other, broadly, justifiably, urgent reasons.

Discontinuing leap seconds (or discontinuing them in favor of a leap
hour to be effected in 600 years) is a change in civil time as
fundamental as the adoption of the Gregorian calendar. That change
was instigated by no less authority than a Pope, and it still took
over 300 years for worldwide adoption.

I grant that today there is considerably more economic pressure to
achieve worldwide conformity on quicker timescales. Nevertheless, the
laws of several major economic powers, technically and practically
speaking, still indicate that UT2 is the legal timescale.

If, within the window available before the DUT1 becomes noticeably
large, the US were to attempt to legislate a change to TAI (or UTC
without leap seconds) might the bill flounder if the new timescale
were opposed with the epithet "French Time"? ("No thanks, we'll stick
with our "Freedom Time".) Elsewhere, might certain fundamentalist
governments find it difficult to adopt "Infidel Time"? This would be
a recipe for chaos.

Steve Allen          UCO/Lick Observatory       Santa Cruz, CA 95064      Voice: +1 831 459 3046
PGP: 1024/E46978C5   F6 78 D1 10 62 94 8F 2E    49 89 0E FE 26 B4 14 93
Received on Thu Apr 24 2003 - 01:05:30 PDT

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