> > I still think NTP should have distribute TAI, but I understand using > > Was your failure to form a past-participle a Freudian slip? I'm with you > if you really mean "NTP should distribute TAI"!!!
Uh, probably yes. I didn't even see the grammer error when I re-read it the first time just now. About 15 years ago I came to believe that it would have been better if NTP distributed TAI instead of (or perhaps alongside) UTC. And yes, I still believe that. Now I think it would be best if TAI and UTC were both distributed by time signals (and NTP, etc), with equal emphasis to make it clear to all users that they have a choice to make. Atomic time based on the SI second (TAI) and traditional time based on earth orientation (UT) are both needed in the modern world. Both should be distributed. People who have some need to synchronize clocks should be forced to decide which kind of time would be best for them. (Or perhaps in some cases it would be best for them to implement both side-by-side in their system.) A system which distributes TAI (which never has leap seconds) and also distributes the current number of seconds of offset for UTC, as well as leap warnings (or continuously broadcasts the table of all known (past and scheduled) leap seconds), would seem to be reasonable. This would allow the decisions about what would be the best time scale to use to be made downstream. Build good mechanisms that allow a variety of policies, and leave policies to those downstream of you. My preference would be for civil time keeping to continue to be tied to earth orientation, as it was when GMT was the standard. So UT1 or UTC would continue to be "normal" time, and TAI (or something like it) would be the "weird" time that certain geeks care about. The other alternative would be for civil timekeeping to be based on TAI (something which never has leap seconds), with UTC (or something like it) to be the "weird" time that certain geeks care about. This is the radical proposal, but I can understand that some would want to do this. If humans spread out to other places besides the earth, an earth-centric time scale might begin to seem somewhat quaint. Distributing leap second information to a Mars colony seems kind of silly. (Though I guess that those on a Mars colony would in fact care about earth orientation, e.g. if they wished to communicate with friends back on Earth using their amateur laser-communication gear in their backyards.) I very much dislike the proposal to *redefine* UTC to abolish leap seconds. I dislike very much trying to understand code that was written with descriptive names (for variables, functions, constants, etc) but which has evolved such that what the names apparently mean and what they really mean are very different. UTC is a type of UT time. If you stop putting leap seconds in UTC to keep it close to all the other UT time scales, then it no longer deserves to have a name that starts with UT. So fine, if we must stop maintaining UTC with leap seconds and move civil time keeping users to some sort of new standard, please do *not* call it UTC after the change. The hack of having UTC ticks align with TAI ticks and adjusting UTC with leap seconds was perhaps not the best idea. But it was done, and has been in place for more than 30 years, and is now a widely implemented and understood standard. If this hack should be replaced with something better (and perhaps it should be), I'd want 20 years advance notice that a change is coming, and 15 years advance notice as to what exactly the change will be. (I suspect though I won't get that much notice.) "leap hours" are a horrible idea, whether they be leap hours inserted in to some UTC-like global standard, or by local jurisdictions. Well, those are my opinions. Thanks for listening. -Tim Shepard [EMAIL PROTECTED]