[LEAPSECS] Saint Crispin's Day

Poul-Henning Kamp phk at phk.freebsd.dk
Mon Oct 25 16:16:08 EDT 2010

In message <8F87309B-663B-4CA8-BA8D-F45C410100CC at noao.edu>, Rob Seaman writes:

>On Oct 25, 2010, at 11:50 AM, Poul-Henning Kamp wrote:


>> How could it ever be considered good design to embed a politically

>> controled timescale, subject to lots of valid scientific criticism,

>> into the design of astronomical equipment ?


>Managing the timescale wasn't originally a politically process.

>The predecessor organization to the ITU-R did not assert "we own

>time", they asserted, "we will provide time signals commensurate

>with universal time". Unintended consequences have resulted in

>this naive notion that ITU-R actions should trump the clear definition

>of "Universal Time".

Actually, they very much did just that with the original TF460 in 1970.

That should have put any compentent astronomer on notice that these
"broadcast" timescales were governed by irrational telebureaucrats
and that they can would not be trustworth for scientific astronomy.

That was 40 years ago.

IAU prompted the first revision in 1974, educating CCIR about
scientifically feasible DUT1 limits.

That was 36 years ago.

That in my mind, is proof that competent astronomers were aware
that they were dealing with earth-rotation-clueless people.

The fact that the recommendation got revised every chance they had,
(ie: every four years) until 1986 cannot in any way give the
impression that we are talking about a long term stable definition
of a timescale suitable for scientific astronomy.

That took place until 24 years ago.

I can still not see how astronomers can credibly claim to think
that UTC, as broadcast, is a suitable timescale for them.

Please enlighten me...


Poul-Henning Kamp | UNIX since Zilog Zeus 3.20
phk at FreeBSD.ORG | TCP/IP since RFC 956
FreeBSD committer | BSD since 4.3-tahoe
Never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by incompetence.

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