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What if the Earth started spinning faster?



What if the Earth started spinning faster?

As we all know, a day on our planet lasts 24 hours, or more precisely 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4 seconds. This is exactly how long does it take our world to turn on itself. We usually think of such activity as one of the constants in our life. However, it seems that the Earth can spin faster and faster.

According to data from the TimeandSpace portal, only in 2020 the Earth was able to speed up your rotation time by about 0.5 seconds. In other words, last year the days were 0.5 seconds faster than in previous years. Likewise, there appears to have been no such acceleration since 1973. But, unlike that year, it appears that the 2020 trend will have a continuation during the present 2021.

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The Earth is spinning faster and faster

According to recently recorded data, in 2020 alone, the rotational speed record was beaten 28 times. In other words, the Earth has been spinning much faster than average over the past year. One of the most iconic moments was when, on July 19, a solar day – marked by atomic clocks – was measured more than 1,4602 milliseconds less than the usual 86,400.

Atomic clocks measure the speed of the Earth using the position of different objects in space. For this reason they are the most accurate when it comes to marking the rotation of the planet, its speed and duration. All since they are updated in tandem with changes in space, generating the International Atomic Time Scale (TAI).

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2021 continued with such a trend. A detail that has not only been identified but could be accentuated in the coming decades thanks to aggravating factors. Among them, we have some events like the global warmingthe melting of the polar ice caps, changes in the behavior of the ocean or atmosphere, erosion of mountains, and even changes in the activity of the Earth’s core.

We will soon stop adding and start taking away time

By comparing the TAI scale with Universal Time (UT1), taken from solar time, the International Service for the Rotation and Reference Systems of the Earth (IERS) can note the differences in the rotation of the Earth. Thanks to them, the organization based in Paris, France, can observe the trends of the movement of our planet.

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Now when there is one discrepancy, as a “second lost” in the Earth’s rotation, the “leap second” figure is added to compensate for the measured delay. Since such a measure was created, the Earth’s time has been adjusted 27 times. Such a tally could have continued to rise, but after 2020 it is unlikely. Indeed, if the acceleration trend continues in 2021 and in the years to come, soon we will have to start subtracting the “leap seconds” instead of adding them. Hence, the clocks of the world must start to lag behind by one second to stay in sync with the planet’s time.

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How could such a change affect us?

In general, the Earth having days in less than a few milliseconds will not be a big deal to us. In fact, it’s unlikely we could notice the difference. However, other items that require precision such as ground computers, communications equipment, and satellites in space could be damaged. Therefore, it is necessary to prepare them in advance for the change so that there is no risk of errors.

Therefore, some areas of the scientific world are opposed to the use of the aforementioned “leap seconds”. From their point of view, a more effective way to tackle the problem might be to let time build up until a significant difference occurs (e.g. 1 hour, for example).

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Why don’t we feel the Earth spinning faster and faster?

If the Earth started spinning faster, we could feel the difference. However, theeffect is not so obvious yetsince changes are handled in the millisecond range.

But even if the difference were more noticeable, it is unlikely that we would “feel” it on Earth. Yup, we may notice shorter days or nights, but we would have no feeling that allows us to relate one event to another. All because, as the planet accelerates its rotation, we pick up the pace with it. Thus, by staying at equal and stable speeds, our routine is not disturbed.