Time is something that is seen as a constant. There is always 24 hours a day, give or take a few fractions of a second. Although time is considered a constant, the length of days varies slightly. Because of this, we have a leap year every four years. Scientists recently announced something very interesting. The days have become shorter on average because the earth rotates faster.
The faster spinning of the planet may require adjustments to keep the calendars on track. Scientists point out that the faster spin does not endanger the planet in any way. The reason for the increased spin is very well known, and things that affect it are the moon’s gravity, snowfall, and mountain erosion. In the past few decades, thanks to the precision of atomic clocks, scientists have been able to adjust the timekeeping more accurately.
In the past, leap seconds were added to keep the clocks in timing outside of the leap year. Interestingly, the length of the days has tended to be a fraction of a millisecond longer since timekeeping began with high accuracy. This trend has now reversed.
The researchers point out that July 19 is a significantly shorter day at 1.4602 milliseconds below the standard. Before July 19, the previous record was set for the shortest day in 2005, but in 2020 that record was broken 28 times.
As the earth’s rotation accelerates, researchers say we may need to add a negative leap second over the next few years to keep the clocks in sync. That would be the first negative leap second. Some scientists believe that the increasing rotation of the earth could be a result of global warming.
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