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DailyDirt: Calibration Time, Come On!

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Not all clocks are created equal. Some clocks lose a few seconds every month. Others are connected to cell phone towers and are constantly updating their time displays. We've come a long way from the VCRs that blink 12:00. Here are just a few articles on how we're keeping track of every minute. By the way, StumbleUpon can recommend some good Techdirt articles, too.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    mischab1, Dec 15th, 2011 @ 5:24pm

    You can't read the full American Scientist article without paying. :(

    The content you've requested is available without charge only to active Sigma Xi members and affiliates

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Dec 15th, 2011 @ 6:00pm

    Stardates

    I’ve proposed a definition of stardates as a number of days (accurate to tenths of a day) from 00:00:00 1st January 1970 UTC. You can compute it with this command:

    bc <<<"scale = 1; ($(date +%s)) / 86400"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Michael Ho (profile), Dec 15th, 2011 @ 6:03pm

    Re:

    oops. sorry. I'll fix that in a bit..

    Try here for a pdf:
    http://arxiv.org/pdf/1106.3141v1

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    abc gum, Dec 15th, 2011 @ 7:56pm

    "there could be a redefined version of Coordinated Universal Time that eliminates any requirement to keep our time systems synchronized to the Earth's rotation"

    This sort of thinking is rather short sighted and will probably make the pencil neck MBAs happy, it has definitely caused a stir in the scientific fields. For some, the immediate problem will be tracking divergent time systems, others will not have a problem at all for many years. Eventually, Christmas in the northern hemisphere will no longer occur in winter. Not sure how Santa feels about that. There are several suggestions about how this should be addressed - not sure if any make more sense than simply staying with the system presently in place.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 15th, 2011 @ 8:58pm

    Re:

    Yeah, that is always the problem: "we can have a system without all the artifacts and tweaks needed to calibrate it to the observed day" sounds great and good and swell - right up until you are telling people that noon is now at sunset and the winter solstice is in May. I understand that sciency types would really like a simple time system - I would like a simple time system - but ultimately, timekeeping is about day-to-day concerns, and no one cares that this is Second 1490384512897124956503250325681025863405 since the Adoption of Regular Time and leap seconds/minutes/hours/days are a thing of hte past, if it means they have to go to bed in the middle of the afternoon because that is 0:00 UTC now and work starts in 8 hours in the pitch dark.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Violated (profile), Dec 15th, 2011 @ 9:58pm

    I presume their new clock is the caesium fountain clock. Each tick is the time it takes to go up and then down.

    Nice but the best time keepers in our Universe are the pulsar stars that make great time keepers through their regular rapid rotations.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Dec 16th, 2011 @ 1:09am

    Re: ... the best time keepers in our Universe are the pulsar stars that make great time keepers through their regular rapid rotations.

    No they’re not. They are all perceptibly slowing down.

    Guess how we measure that?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    BentFranklin (profile), Dec 16th, 2011 @ 7:51am

    The March 2011 earthquake in Japan caused earth's sidereal day to decrease by some milliseconds. Should the time standards be adjusted after every earthquake? How about when the ice caps melt and rotation slows down by a lot?

    It's complicated, but I still like noon being the exact time when the sun is highest in the sky.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Michael Ho (profile), Dec 16th, 2011 @ 1:23pm

    Re:

    I think we ought to try to accelerate the Earth's rotation in order for it to match atomic clocks... :P

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 18th, 2011 @ 1:40am

    Leap Seconds

    Proposals to somehow define leap seconds out of existence are misguided. The earth's rotation is slowing down. That is a physical fact that we humans are powerless to change. So the solar second is gradually getting longer. The UTC second was based on the mean solar second of a past year and is constant. It needs to be constant to avoid yearly revisions of a whole bunch of physical constants. Navigators and astronomers like to use UTC and want it kept close to solar time, not drifting off. Thus leap seconds are inevitable. Weenies who are not coping with leap seconds need to toughen up and cope. Get the software fixed and stop moaning.

     

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