[time-nuts] Re: UTC - A Cautionary Tale
seaman at noao.edu
Thu Jul 14 02:13:40 EDT 2005
> This is a little missive from an astronomer on the delicate subject
> of the divergence of UTC from UTx. It seems that those bastards in
> the precision timing community want to abandon UTC's leap seconds
> entirely because they are too much trouble, and he's hopping mad.
Note that my message was composed for astronomers, not you guys.
Several of us in the astronomical software community have been
following this issue since before Y2K:
We are as "hopping mad" about the sneaky process as about the
proposal. Note our two tiered objection: they not only propose to
cease issuing leap seconds, they propose to continue calling the
resulting time scale "Coordinated Universal Time". There are many
flavors of UT - UTC should not be divorced from the others. Call a
leap second-less civil time anything you want - simply don't call it
> [His most amusing argument against modifying UTC is that astronomy
> software tends to use UTC not UT1 etc.]
Amusing how? Clocks must certainly represent the most familiar
scientific instruments in households and offices worldwide. People
best use instruments that provide handy and simple measurements with
minimal fuss. All measurements are approximations of one type or
another. A one second level approximation of UTC - a measure of
Earth Orientation - is extremely handy for folks who need such
things. Most people, most of the time, don't happen to need
Universal Time to any great precision. It is vital at other times.
Also note that UT1 is only available after the fact. UTC is a
deterministic (if segmented) timescale which provides not only an
approximation (and prediction) of UT1, but also provides access to
TAI two or three orders of magnitude more precisely yet. It may not
be perfect, but then - this proposal isn't designed to provide
something better. Imagine what might have been achieved if the
precision timing community had spent the seven year leap second
hiatus working to improve UTC rather than to sabotage it.
I find it surreal that it is the precision timing community who are
arguing that the public have no need for access to precision time.
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