OpinionThe 'leap second' should no longer be added every four years
      – George, 2008-12-19 at 10:00:25   (11 comments)

On 2008-12-19 at 11:57:47, Lee J Haywood wrote...
You really ought to use the first comment to explain your thinking (and own opinion) and kick off the discussion. (-: Leap seconds aren't added regularly - they're added when needed. The decrease in the Earth's rotation isn't entirely predictable and some sort of adjustment is clearly needed. Time itself is extremely messy. One good thing about leap seconds (as opposed to, say, leap hours) is that they're relatively easy to ignore, as Unix time does. So long as the 'master' clocks that define UTC get adjusted as necessary, everyone else just synchronises with them and the odd second being lost here and there isn't so bad.
On 2008-12-19 at 14:31:40, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Ah, this week's issue of New Scientist just dropped through the letterbox with this... http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20026875.400-calls-to-scrap-the-leap-second-grow.html
On 2008-12-19 at 15:00:00, George wrote...
Yeah was wondering if I should give a wee explanation. That new scientist article popped up on my RSS. Maybe they should consolidate the seconds and have a 'leap minute' extremely infrequently. I think most people live their lives way out of whack with real day and night anyway... seems that not many people actually have the middle of their night at midnight, and the middle of their day at midday. Most people in most countries seem to waste several hours of daylight every day, then have their late afternoon - evening in the dark. I think the world should take a leaf out of China's book, and just have a single world timezone. BTW, reckon the new logo's an improvement.
On 2008-12-19 at 16:16:01, Lee J Haywood wrote...
Why do you care about leap seconds in the first place though? Surely you're never actually affected by them directly? Normal people don't notice when their clocks are a second out, and they either have to occasionally adjust them manually (changing the clocks twice a year is actually useful for prompting it) or have a radio-synchronised clock which is more accurate than they can possibly require. I'm not sure who exactly is inconvenienced by leap seconds. Anyone who creates a system which needs to track things that accurately ought to have taken account of them already, and have an external input to resynchronise. Older systems should have been fixed by now. The logo image is fractionally smaller now, but the slogan means that the main body doesn't look anywhere near as large. The blue version was already in existence - I recycled it from the selection created during beta testing. http://discussionator.com/logos.html
On 2008-12-19 at 20:10:31, BorgClown wrote...
Most consumer clocks drift by themselves a lot more each year, although I would love to have a universal time. The problem is, would it be based on Paris, Greenwich or Washington time?
On 2008-12-19 at 20:18:47, Lee J Haywood wrote...
The problem with a made-up time is that it loses all practical value. Say I invented a time scheme which uses standard-size seconds and is based on an atomic clock, but which bears no relation to the rotation of the Earth relative to the Sun. Needless to say, it would be really useful from a technical standpoint but who would actually use it? Actually, we already have Greenwich Electronic Time (GET) - which is bizarrely so unsuccessful that it doesn't have a Wikipedia article, even though the BBC predicted it would be better than Swatch Internet Time. Having a single time zone for the world would suffer from the same problem, namely that knowing someone's time zone is a useful thing and gives you a clue as to when their day begins and ends relative to yours.
On 2008-12-19 at 20:53:04, BorgClown wrote...
You're right in the usefulness of time zones, which still can coexist with an unified time as they do it now with local time.
On 2008-12-22 at 00:23:52, George wrote...
It's true that I've never really been directly affected by the 'leap second', but it must be pretty bad for the few people who know that their new year's going to be spoiled by emergency support calls every few years. I hadn't realised that the leap second had lead to tens of thousands of mobile phone users being without reception for a long while. I think that our measurement of time should be totally re-worked and decimalised... ten 'hours' to a day, ten 'days' a week. I wouldn't propose to change the number of days to a year though(!). They manage a single time zone in China without many problems, despite the fact that the country is approx the same size as the USA. I think it would be easier to have an idea of the time at which people get up and everything with a worldwide unified time, than it is having to figure out what time it is everywhere, especially with some regions having half-hour and even quarter hour time zones.
On 2008-12-22 at 00:32:45, George wrote...
Also... the screwed-up system for months that we still use with the unnecessarily irregular number of days is mostly down to the egotism of a few Roman emperors nearly 2,000 years ago. Back to time of day though, if you're trying to organise a phone meeting between the UK, USA and India (for example) it can be a nightmare just agreeing when the meeting is actually taking place for each location - normally the UK would be +/- 0, NYC -5 and Mumbai +5.30, but then twice a year this is all screwed up for a while, since different countries go to daylight saving on different weeks, and some don't bother to change their clocks at all.
On 2008-12-22 at 03:38:06, BorgClown wrote...
When a rework of our calendar is debated, I understand why countries like USA cling desperately to their imperial system. Getting so many people to reach an agreement is a monumental task.
On 2008-12-22 at 10:40:33, Lee J Haywood wrote...
If you're arranging a meeting you only have to specify it relative to a single time zone. For example, if I said we'll talk at 15:00 GMT and gave you this link you should be able to figure out how long to wait. http://wwp.greenwichmeantime.com/ You ought to also know how far ahead or behind you are, and calculate from that. You're right that people have trouble with these things, but having a single world time zone wouldn't make it any easier to know when someone is going to be out of bed - I'd say it would make it worse if anything.