Scientists: The Earth is spinning faster than it should… and the length of days is decreasing! | Science and Technology | The latest discoveries and studies from DW Arabic | DW

Astronomers and physicists have confirmed that the Earth is rotating faster, and that it recently recorded its shortest day ever.

On June 29 this year, the Earth made one complete revolution, about 1.59 milliseconds shorter than the average day length of 86,400 seconds, or 24 hours. While the 1.59 ms decrease in day length may not seem like much, it is part of a larger and worrying trend.

And on July 26, 2022, a new record was set when Earth ended its day 1.50 milliseconds slower than usual, according to British newspaper The Guardian and time-tracking website Time and Date.

Not the first time!

These events indicate that 2020 had the shortest number of days since scientists began using atomic clocks to take daily measurements in the 1960s. Scientists only started noticing this in 2016.

“Since 2016, the Earth has started to accelerate faster than it was in 2020 and 2021,” Leonid Zotov, an astronomer at Lomonosov Moscow State University, told CBS News.

Zotov recently published a study Regarding what could cause changes in the Earth’s rotation, he suggested that these fluctuations could be caused by the tides on Earth.

The Russian scientist points out that this does not happen often, but if it continues, atomic time – the universal way time is measured on Earth – may have to be changed. Some scholars suggest introducing a “negative leap second” to overcome the time difference. “Since we cannot change the clock hands related to the Earth’s rotation, we can adjust the scale of the atomic clock,” says Zotov.

The idea of ​​a negative leap second is based on subtracting one second from the day to keep the world on track with the atomic time system. Since 1972, leap seconds have been added every few years to adjust the time and the last addition was in 2016.

‘Devastating’ solutions

However, a number of physicists, astronomers and engineers are against the continuation of the leap second idea, because it could lead to widespread and devastating technical problems. in the context, Two researchers at Meta (formerly Facebook) published a blog On this topic, which supports an industry-wide effort to exploit the idea of ​​leap seconds.

“Companies like Meta have simulated this event, and its implementation will likely lead to devastating and unpredictable power and internet outages around the world,” engineers and researchers Oleg Obliukhov and Ahmet Biakoy told CBS News.

The engineers wrote in the Meta blog: “While positive leap seconds can cause a time jump, leading to IT software crashes or even data corruption, implementing negative leap seconds would be much worse, as they could cause hardware software damage. Global time measurement.

The engineers believe that one of the many factors contributing to the speed of Earth’s rotation may be the frequency of melting and refreezing of ice caps on the world’s highest mountains. They emphasized that this is more about physics, where each atom moving at a different speed on the planet contributes to the momentum of the “Earth’s angular velocity.”

While scientists know that the length of days on Earth is decreasing in the short term, the final cause is still not clear, and all the consequences that will result from this, especially on us as humans, have not yet been identified.

“Tracking the Earth’s rotation rate is a complex business,” Judah Levine, a physicist in the Department of Time and Frequency at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, tells Discover. “It’s about the Earth’s tilt, atmospheric height, ocean effects, the effect of the moon’s approach and distance,” adding that “you can’t predict what’s going on.” This will occur in the distant future due to the decrease in the length of the Earth’s day.”

But Fred Watson, an Australian astronomer, told ABC News in Australia that if nothing was done to stop it, “the four seasons will gradually come off the calendar”.

“When you start looking at the really small details, you realize that the Earth is not just a solid ball that spins,” Watson said. “It has molten liquid in its core, and it carries other liquids on its back, and it has an atmosphere and all these things keep moving and are affected by this.” The accelerating rate of Earth’s rotation.

Emad Hassan

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