[LEAPSECS] What's the point?

Mark Calabretta mcalabre at atnf.csiro.au
Thu Feb 10 19:05:40 EST 2011

On Thu 2011/02/10 10:43:40 -0000, Tony Finch wrote
in a message to: Leap Second Discussion List <leapsecs at leapsecond.com>

>> If we're seriously expected to accept the "quadratic catastrophy"

>> argument for immediately changing UTC


>Also, the "quadratic catastrophe" argument is usually used in support of


Really? Can you provide references for that.

On the contrary, please refer to the original GPS World article by
McCarthy & Klepczynski where the "quadratic catastrophe" is presented
as a reason for change -

Demetrios Matsakis includes the following in his report
dated 2000/07/02 on the results of the original leap seconds

Three thought we should not adopt a system which will fail in the long
run, even if that is a very distant time in the future. (It could be
pointed out that all current time systems will eventually fail. Well
before 2050 we could be routinely adding more than one leap second per
year, and when we reach the point where a day is 48 hours long we
would have to add a leap second every second. Even the Gregorian
calendar will eventually need revision because in a few million years
the Earth will rotate less than 365 times per year, and leap days will
not be necessary.)

Which must be a record for long-term planning!

Digressing now. In looking that up I stumbled upon the following in
my email archives. It seems relevant. In response to his report I
mentioned the possibility of leaping timezones:

Has anyone mentioned the possibility of adopting TAI as the basis of
civil time and changing *timezone offsets* whenever the difference
between TAI and UT1 amounted to, say, 5 minutes? The current tendency
to write the timezone as, say, +1000, instead of "AEST" would make
this even more plausible. Such changes would happen every few hundred

This was his response:

That's one I never heard. Somehow I suspect that even if every
country in the world agreed to it, Australia's provinces would hold
their ground ... and that's ok with me because I'm a bloke too.

Mark Calabretta

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