Earth Is Spinning Faster, Completes Rotation In Less Than 24 Hours. Why?

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If you feel like the world around you is moving fast, it is. On June 29, 2022, Earth set a record for its shortest day ever, which was 1.59 milliseconds lesser than its usual 24 hours. A similar occurrence, though not a record, was recorded by the National Physics Laboratory in England, on June 26, 2022, with the day being 1.50 milliseconds shorter than usual.

A normal day has 24 hours, which means 86,400 seconds. The rotation of the Earth has seen an acceleration and therefore, some days are shorter than others. This is being observed since 2016. There have been shorter days in the past two years, but this year, our planet seems to be spinning faster than its normal speed. 

If this continues, scientists have been in a discussion about introducing a negative leap second, which would essentially compensate for the shorter days. However, there has been a certain amount of reluctance for the same, as it could lead to problems and technological issues for the software that relies on timers and schedulers. A lot of hardware infrastructures could be affected too. A leap second was first introduced in 1972, and since then, 27 leap seconds have been added to the atomic clock. Therefore, a negative leap second may be required to balance the problem. 

There isn’t an exact reason as to why our planet has been spinning faster than usual, but scientists do have a few reasons that could contribute to this consequence. One of them is evidently climate change, as the continued melting and freezing of the ice caps is shifting the weight pulls on Earth. Seismic activities like earthquakes may also be a reason that interferes with the mass distribution in the Earth’s core. Pressures on the seabed and ocean circulation also pull on the Earth’s axis. There is also a phenomenon called the ‘Chandler Wobble’ that was named after the American astronomer, Seth Carlo Chandler. This phenomenon attempts to explain how there is a natural shifting of the Earth’s axis that happens over time because the planet is not exactly spherical. This is also contributive to the consequence of the Earth spinning faster. 

As of now, there is uncertainty about how this will move forward. The Earth could slow back down to an average speed and there would be no need to worry. It could also start spinning quicker with time, but it is unknown. Either way, the possible implication of the negative leap second is still quite ahead in the future, and we will only know with time.


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