Recently, scientists came up with a very interesting piece of information. Earth which has been slowing in it’s spinning speed for several millions of years is now according to recent reports actually speeding up. It has been reported that the earth is actually spinning faster that it had ever in the past half a century. What does this mean? Read on to find out..
Is the earth actually speeding up?
Maybe the first thing you learnt as a child was that a day constitutes 24 hours.
This, as many of you may already know, is not exactly true. Though the average time taken for earth to rotate around its axis, which in turn constitutes a day is indeed 86,400, but it may take the earth some milliseconds more or less to actually complete a rotation.
As of today the earth rotates a little more than three hundred and sixty five times on its axis in the time it takes to complete a revolution around the sun.
However, this was not the case forever. Scientists say that nearly 450 million years ago the earth did 420 times in a year. Then it kept on decelerating, and a few million years ago earth spun 410 times per year. And the trend continued gradually, the spinning speed of the earth decreasing.
As Earth is not a perfect sphere, the spinning speed is further different at different places on earth due to the varying circumference. For instance, The equator spins at about 1,037 mph, whereas some place far up for example let’s say, Chicago does it at a much slower pace approximately 750 mph.
There are many reasons which can affect the spinning speed of the earth. Some are;
- Changes in the sea level
- Variations in atmospheric pressure or the changing winds patterns.
- Changes in ocean currents
- Movement of the earth’s core
- Growing distance between the earth and the moon
However, as with many things that went awry in 2020, the earth also started the trend in reverse. The spinning speed of the earth actually increased, making days in 2020 about 0.5 milliseconds shorter on an average.
What does this mean for us?
The change being so minute has no real bearing on our day to day lives. That will go on as usual.
- Though, it is the international timekeepers whom it causes trouble, they use atomic clocks which are highly accurate, and put out the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
- The UTC is in turn is used by everyone to coordinate their clocks.
- Now since a very long time the earth’s speed was decreasing hence a “leap second” was added once a difference of 0.4 second happened.
- Since there has been an increase in the speed this time around, talks of a negative “leap second” are flowing around. People say that a negative leap second may be added to the UTC.
- However records of IERS, Paris, France, ( it is the authority which determines if a leap second should be added or not.) shows no report of doing so right now.
Well, If it does happen it would be a first, we’ll keep you updated if something else builds up. Stay tuned for more update on Gamestanza.