[LEAPSECS] What's the point?

Michael Deckers michael.deckers at yahoo.com
Tue Feb 8 16:23:16 EST 2011

On 2011-02-08 16:29, Poul-Henning Kamp wrote, answering
Rob Seaman:

> > Civil timekeeping is a worldwide system.


> No it is not.


> UTC is a "worldwide coorporation" or "worldwide coordination" if you

> will.


> There is no international entity which can mandate what civil time

> must be in any particular country, and therefore there is no other

> system than what emerges through voluntary coordination and

> cooperation.


> And the cooperation only happens to the extent people want to, there

> are no penalties for deciding on stupid timekeeping in your own

> country.


> Nobody can prevent your government or my government from defining

> local time as UTC + Xh 31 minutes + 41.5 seconds.

In 1884, an international conference decided:

That the Conference proposes the adoption of a universal day
for all purposes for which it may be found convenient, and
which shall not interfere with the use of local or
standard time where desirable.

That this universal day is to be a mean solar day; is to
begin for all the world at the moment of mean midnight of
the initial meridian, coinciding with the beginning of the
civil day and date of that meridian; and is to be counted
from zero up to twenty-four hours.

That international agreement has since become, and still is,
the rationale for the worldwide use of UT, UT2, and UTC as the
basis for the definition of all local civil time scales, even at
those strange places where the civil time scale is defined as
UTC + 31 min + 41.5 s.

The proposed distribution of a translate of TAI as the time scale
to be distributed worldwide, and thus to be taken as the basis of
all civil time scales, amounts to the abrogation of this decision
of 1884.

So many esoteric technical issues have been raised in the
discussion about this matter that I am wondering whether
the ITU-R people may still be aware of the importance of their
decision: they are going to revise the agreement of 1884.

Michael Deckers.

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