Denmark is 0.07 seconds behind the world

Originally published at:


noon drifts by a fraction of a second each day

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime, doubly so.


Many US states are decades behind


Isn’t this discrepancy what “leap seconds” are for?

When the “error” reaches 1.0, they throw in another leap second and the “error” becomes zero again. Note also, the error is that UTC is wrong. “Mean solar time” is synchronized with the earth’s rotation by definition.

Defining our scientific time unit to be both a fixed value and also 1/86400th of the slowing rotation of the earth is the real problem here. The scientific unit should be something else.


I still do not need understand the economic need for asset trading to happen so quickly. I get that individual asset traders want as much market advantage as they can shave from the clock, but the net effect is less stable markets. Why dont asset markets optimize for stability?


programing time and date stuff is always tricky when working across multiple servers in different timezones. having everything standardized on UTC would reduce a lot of pain. things are certainly moving this way for good reason.


Until 2007-08-09 the law of the United States also specified that legal time was mean solar time. Then 15 US Code section 261 b was modified to say UTC. In the EU some countries have laws saying time is UTC in one of their legal languages and GMT in another legal language.


I blame Sandy Toksvig and QI.

Two points, if I may:

  1. Every country running on its own time began to be a problem when the era of international train connections began. (And before that, every city operating more or less on its own time was a problem for train schedules.)
    One theory why Einstein started to think about what time actually is and how its connected to space is that during his time (heh) at the patent office he had to review several proposals to syncronize time (i.e. clocks) across national borders.

  2. Maybe this is why the Danes are the happiest people on Earth?


“You know how many time zones they have in the Soviet Union?”

“Yessir, uh, four, uh, no sir, I never really studied that up.”


Ee-leven. It’s not even funny.”


Hot damn, I’m moving there! Think of all the things you could do with that extra time!

1 Like

Interesting. I don’t remember reading about this timing discrepancy on the Time-nuts email list, although one of its prominent members is a Danish fellow.

He’s known for being the unwitting recipient of millions of NTP server pings a day on his private server, whose IP address got hard-coded into some Internet routers by dumb programmers.


There has got to be someone arbitraging this. Surely there are instances where it would be worth millions for some transaction to have occurred 0.07 seconds later, and unless they don’t have lawyers there, there is someone to argue the word of the law.

1 Like

The market may desire stability, if it can be said to have any feelings or preference in the matter. But perhaps individual participants desire some level of instability because instability is a key potential source of trading advantage and profit.

1 Like

Yeah, I’m curious to see if my GPS device survives this problem:

1 Like

Depends on how old it is.
Some can be fixed with a firmware update.


Mine’s about 14 years old, so it’s been a long time since any updates were released.


That might be a problem.

1 Like

(Post withdrawn by author, will be automatically deleted in 12 hours and .07 seconds unless flagged).

1 Like

The expensive rack-mount GPS receivers that we use at our telescopes were made by Datum, a company that was eventually bought by Symmetricom. A call to the Symmetricom factory reveals that their idea of a firmware update is to sell you an entire new GPS receiver. So we run them with the GPS year wrong, because of spite.