[ntp:questions] Google and leap seconds

John Hasler jhasler at newsguy.com
Thu Sep 22 00:50:58 UTC 2011

Richard B. Gilbert writes:
> I'm not going to do ANYTHING on Mars!  We could, in principle, land a
> man on Mars.  The cost would be enormous.  The probable return on the
> investment does not appear sufficient to tempt anyone.

Well, we have machines on and around Mars that need to keep time and
that we need to synchronize with.  In any case, the point is that
planetary days and years are intervals to be measured, not clocks.  I
understand and share the desire to localize the representation of time,
but that should be done explicitly.  It made sense to synchronize our
clocks with the Earth when we knew that it was a more stable oscillator
than any we could build, but that is no longer true.  Leap seconds don't
correct an error: they jigger stable clocks so that they track a known
drifty one.  They should be treated as localization, not as error
correction.  Put them in tzdata.
John Hasler 
jhasler at newsguy.com
Dancing Horse Hill
Elmwood, WI USA

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