Have you ever had the feeling that the time is it going faster? It’s not just your impression. On June 29, midnight arrived 1.59 milliseconds earlier than expected. It was the shortest day in history, at least since scientists began tracking Earth’s rotation rate. Earth with atomic clocks in the 1960s.
The occurrence was not the only one. In 2020, the planet had the shortest 28 days on record up to that point in history. Last week, on July 26, the day was also 1.5 milliseconds shorter than usual.
According to Leonid Zotov, a researcher at Lomonosov Moscow State University, the acceleration of the Earth’s rotation began to happen in 2016. “This year, for example, its rotation is faster than in 2021 and 2020”, he said, in an interview with CBS News. .
Compared to the time of its formation, the planet has much longer days. About 1.4 billion years ago, one rotation of the Earth took less than 19 hours. Each year, the days began to become, on average, about one-thirteenth of a second. However, this time can fluctuate from day to day.
According to scientists, Earth’s motion can be affected by earthquakes, stronger winds (such as El Niño), melting and refreezing of the polar ice caps, the Moon and weather. Some suggest that the so-called “Chandler wobble”, a phenomenon known as a slight deviation in the Earth’s rotation points from the solid Earth, could also generate an impact.
Since 1972, researchers have proposed occasional leap seconds (the addition of a single second to Coordinated Universal Time). According to Engadget, they are used sparingly as they wreak havoc on ultra-precise systems. Last week, Meta called for an end to leap seconds, which have caused software disruptions on Reddit and Cloudflare for the past decade.
If the current trend of shorter days continues, there is a possibility that a negative leap second will be needed to keep clocks in line with the planet’s rotation – it could lead to even more chaos.
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