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British scientists battle to save GMT

January 31st, 2012
by Tania

Shepherd gate clock at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, UKBritish scientists have vowed to defend Greenwich Mean Time as the global community considers switching to strict atomic time.

Moving to strict atomic time would remove the need to add leap seconds to ensure time keeps pace with the rotation of the earth.

However, this would mean time would gradually shift away from Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and Coordinated Universal Time (UCT), as it is known to the rest of the world.

Scientists argue this would create issues years down the line and effectively lead to the elimination of GMT, the Daily Telegraph reported, and are planning to fight the move.

Currently, there are deviations between GMT and strict atomic time.

Peter Whibberley of the National Physical Laboratory said: "We have had leap seconds for the last 40 years so we can handle them, but there is no equipment in the world that could handle a leap minute or hour … it could be 200 years down the line but it would be just impossible."

GMT is currently measured by the moment when the noon sun crosses the meridian in Greenwich and originally referred to the mean solar time at the Royal Observatory in London.

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