Scientists were confused as the Earth was spinning faster than usual
Scientists are baffled after discovering the Earth is spinning faster than normal – making days shorter than usual.
New measurements by Britain’s National Physical Laboratory show that the Earth is spinning faster than it did half a century ago.
On June 29, a complete rotation of the Earth took 1.59 milliseconds less than 24 hours – the shortest day ever.
Scientists have warned that if the rotation rate continues to accelerate, we may have to remove a second from our atomic clocks.
“If Earth’s rapid rotation continues, this could introduce the first-ever negative leap second,” astrophysicist Graham Jones reports via TimeandDate.com.
“This requires keeping civil time – which is based on the super-steady beat of atomic clocks – on solar time, which is based on the movement of the sun across the sky.
“A negative leap second means our clocks skip a second, which can cause potential problems for IT systems.”
Researchers at Meta said a leap second would have a huge impact on technology and become a “major source of pain” for hardware infrastructure.
“The negative leap second effect has never been tested on a large scale; It can have a devastating effect on software that relies on timers or schedulers,” claims a blog post on the topic written by researchers Oleg Oblukhov and Ahmad Byagovi.
“In any case, every leap second is a major source of pain for people managing hardware infrastructures.”
Scientists Leonid Zotov, Christian Bizord and Nikolay Sidorenkov claim that the irregular orbits are the result of something called the Chandler wobble, an irregular movement of Earth’s geographic poles across the Earth’s surface.
“The normal amplitude of the Chandler wobble is about 3m to 4m at Earth’s surface,” Zotov told Time&Date, “but it disappeared from 2017 to 2020.”
Some experts believe that the erratic rate of melting and refreezing of the ice caps on the world’s highest mountains may be the cause.
“Earth has recorded its shortest day since scientists began using atomic clocks,” reports Time&Date.
“On June 29, 2022, Earth completed one rotation in less than 24 hours in 1.59 milliseconds. This is the latest in a series of land speed records since 2020.
Zotov told TimeandDate that there’s a “70 percent chance” that the planet has already reached the minimum length of a day, meaning we never need to use negative leap seconds.
However, Zoltov admits there is no way to know for sure with current technology.