[LEAPSECS] What's the point?

Rob Seaman seaman at noao.edu
Tue Feb 8 11:11:34 EST 2011

Poul-Henning Kamp wrote:

> The ITU proposal does not in fact talk about civil time at all, it talks only about the timescale civil time is defined relative to: UTC.

Civil timekeeping is a worldwide system. This, in fact, is one of the pillars of "The computers are coming, the computers are coming!" position on leap seconds.

Local time (mean or apparent) is only one part of the delivery system for civil time. "Civilians" (to coin a phrase) need access to both local time and the underlying worldwide timescale, UTC.

That UTC is additionally layered on TAI is an issue for the experts. That some experts who should know better think that the two can be smooshed into one doesn't change the fact that "day" means "synodic day".

> History has shown that very few, if any, governments have been unable to carry through their more or less well thought out policies in this area.

I'd say that history is pretty quiet on timekeeping issues in general. I think very highly of Dava Sobel's "Longitude", but one book does not a library make.

I could get behind a "well thought out" policy. Let's see one from the ITU.


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