Scientists say the Earth is spinning faster, and recently recorded its shortest day ever. Scientist Leonid Zotov told CBS News that June 29, 2022 was 1.59 milliseconds shorter than today’s average.
The normal length of a day is 24 hours, or 86,400 seconds. But in recent years, the Earth’s rotation has accelerated, shortening some days by milliseconds. “Since 2016, the Earth has started to accelerate,” said Zotov, who works at Lomonosov Moscow State University and recently published a study on what might cause changes in the Earth’s rotation. And this year it rotates faster than it did in 2021 and 2020.
Zotov and his colleagues think the fluctuations may be caused by Earth’s tides.
Not every day is shorter, he says, but if this trend continues, atomic time – the universal way that time on Earth is measured – may have to change. Some scholars suggest introducing a negative leap second. “Since we cannot change the clock arrows associated with the Earth’s rotation, we adjust the scale of the atomic clock,” he said.
Unlike leap years, to which an extra day is added, a negative leap second means that the hours skip one second.
Some engineers oppose the introduction of the leap second, as it could lead to devastating and large-scale technical problems. Meta engineers Oleg Obleukhov and Ahmad Byagowi, also a researcher, have written a blog on the topic for Meta, which supports an industry-wide effort to halt future introductions to leap seconds.
“Negative handling of leap seconds has been supported for a long time, and companies like Meta often run simulations of this event,” they told CBS News. “However, this has not been extensively verified, and is likely to lead to devastating and unpredictable outages around the world.”
The concept, introduced in 1972, “benefits scientists and astronomers primarily because it allows them to observe celestial bodies using Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). [Coordinated Universal Time] For most purposes,” they wrote in the blog post.
“The introduction of new leap seconds is a risky practice that does more harm than good, and we believe it is time to introduce new technologies to replace it,” they wrote.
While positive leap seconds can cause a time jump, leading to IT software crashes or even data corruption, negative leap seconds will be worse, they say.
They wrote: “The negative leap second effect has not been extensively tested; it can have a devastating effect on software that relies on timers or schedulers.” “In any case, every second hop is a major source of pain for people managing hardware infrastructures.”
The pair believe that one of the many factors contributing to the Earth’s rotation speed could be the constant melting and refreezing of ice caps on the world’s highest mountains.
“It’s all about the law of conservation of momentum that applies to planet Earth,” Obleukhov and Byagowi told CBS. “Every atom on this planet contributes to the momentum of Earth’s angular velocity based on the distance to Earth’s rotation axis.” News. “So, once things are moving, the angular velocity of the Earth can vary.”
“This phenomenon can be visualized simply by thinking of a snowboarder who manages angular velocity by controlling their arms and hands,” they said. “As they extend their arms, the angular velocity decreases, which maintains the skater’s momentum. As soon as the skater flexes their arms again, the angular velocity increases. The same is happening here at this moment due to the warming on the ground. Ice caps melt and cause bullets to increase velocity. the corner “.
Zotov and colleagues Christian Besward and Nikolai Sidornkov will present their research at this month’s Geoscience Society Asia and Oceania Conference, according to Timeanddate.com, which has reported for the first time on Earth’s rotation speed and shorter days.
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