* Posts by hrjacobson

3 publicly visible posts • joined 20 Jan 2012

Hold on a sec - leap seconds granted a last-minute reprieve


The length of the schedule in the future is determined by the lifetime of computer software and hardware. If someone is foolish enough to hard-code the leap-second table into software or burn it into hardware, with no easy means of update, they would like to know that their system will continue to function for X years. I am personally aware of software that has been in use for more than 20 years so you're right, 10 years is probably too short. Aside from astronomers and operators of Earth-observing satellites, I doubt that anyone really cares if Earth's rotation is off schedule by a few seconds.


Compromise proposal

Why not compromise? Publish a list of leap seconds that will be added during the next 10 years, based on the best estimates of Earth's rotation. Every few years, extend the list farther into the future making adjustments as needed. This gets rid of the uncertainty of getting only six months' notice. The solar time may occasionally be off by a second or two, but in the long term it will continue to agree with UTC.