Scientists have been left bamboozled after discovering the Earth is spinning faster than normal, making solar days shorter than usual. New measurements by the UK’s National Physical Laboratory show that the Earth is spinning faster than it was 50 years ago.
What Went Down
On July 29, the Earth’s full rotation took 1.59 milliseconds less than 24 hours, the shortest day ever recorded. According to the Independent, the planet has recently been increasing its speed. In 2020, the Earth saw its shortest month that has been recorded since the 1960s. On July 19 of that year, the shortest of all time was measured. It was 1.47 milliseconds shorter than a typical 24-hour day.
Seeing a trend here, very soon, we might have to readjust our atomic clocks to make sense of the time that is being lost, otherwise, it could spell havoc.
How Is It Calculated?
The sidereal day is the time required for the Earth to rotate once relative to the background of the stars, i.e. the time between two observed passages of a star over the same meridian of longitude.
The apparent solar day is the time between two successive transits of the Sun over the same meridian. Because the orbital motion of the Earth makes the Sun seem to move slightly eastward each day relative to the stars, the solar day is about four minutes longer than the sidereal day, i.e. the mean solar day is 24 hours 3 minutes 56.555 seconds of mean sidereal time; more usually the sidereal day is expressed in terms of solar time, being 23 hours 56 minutes 4 seconds of mean solar time.
The mean solar day is the average value of the solar day, which changes slightly in length during the year as Earth’s speed in its orbit varies.
The Problems That Lie
In order to truly understand the problems that lie, there has to be some plausible explanation for the same, after due diligence, the plausible explanations come to be:
- Global Warming, which in turn translates to ice melting and therefore lesser weight.
- The Earth’s molten core has an effect on the time taken to move.
- Earthquakes around the globe may cause disruption including maybe a slight axis change in Earth’s orbit.
- The Chandler Wobble refers to a small, irregular movement of Earth’s geographical poles across the surface of the globe.
The major issue that will happen is a negative leap second in order to keep the rate that the Earth orbits the Sun consistent with measurements from atomic clocks. When this keeps happening all the systems using the atomic clocks, which include satellites and GPS and mobile phones, will be rendered useless.
The negative leap second would also affect IT systems. This is because a clock usually runs from 23:59:59 to 23:59:60 before resetting to 00:00:00.
If this leap second occurs, the clock will change g km 23:58:00 to 00:00:00. Although this may seem like a second to the ordinary, the machines and the ones not so ordinary know that one second for humans could spell doom for humankind.
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