The Earth Just Rotated So Fast That It Was The Shortest Day In History And It’s Not Good

arek socha pixabay
The Earth just completed a full rotation in a little over a thousandth of a second shorter than its normal 24-hour rate. The record full spin occurred on June 29, 2022, and has some scientists concerned.

Our planet has been spinning faster recently. Back in 2020, Earth saw its shortest month ever measured since the 1960's. That same year, the shortest day of all time was recorded, which was 1.47 milliseconds less than 24 hours. In 2021, the Earth continued to spin at a faster rate than historical data, but did not break any records.

While recent rotations have been clocked at faster speeds, overall speeds have been slower. When averaged over a period of a century, the Earth takes a couple of milliseconds longer to complete a full rotation, according to the Independent. In fact, a 50-year phase of shorter days could be beginning now.

The cause of Earth's altered spin rate at this time is unknown. However, scientists theorize that it could be due to processes in the inner or outer layers of the core, oceans, tides, or even changes in climate.

a owen pixabay
Image Credit: A Owne from Pixabay

Some researchers also speculate it could be related to the movement of Earth's geographic poles across its surface, according to scientists Leonid Zotov, Christian Bisouard, and Nikolay Sidorenkov. This is known as the "Chandler Wobble". It is similar to the tremble seen when a spinning top begins gaining speed or slows down.

One of the possible negative effects that could result from the Earth spinning faster is the introduction of a negative leap second. This would come into play in order to keep the rate at which the Earth orbits the Sun consistent with the measurements from atomic clocks.

The introduction of negative leap seconds could lead to issues for some IT systems. Meta published a blog recently that stated the leap second "mainly benefits scientists and astronomers", but it is a "risky practice that does more harm than good".

The harm that Meta is alluding to involves how a clock progresses from 23:59:59 to 23:59:60, before resetting to 00:00:00. A time jump could crash some programs, or corrupt data due to the timestamps for the storage subsystem. In addition, a negative leap second could cause a "devastating effect on the software relying on timers or schedulers," according to Meta.

Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) has been updated 27 times with a leap second. Meta engineers remarked, "We are supporting a larger community push to stop the future introduction of leap seconds and remain at the current level of 27, which we believe will be enough for the next millennium."

Top Image Credit: Arek Socha from Pixabay