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The Earth is Spinning Faster

Credit: Unsplash

Great, now I gotta reset my alarm clock again…

Time is an illusion, a construct created by the human race to measure the rotation and axis of the Earth. Time, as we understand it, works because the Earth rotates at a very particular rate. A day is 24 hours long because that’s how long it takes the Earth to rotate completely. If that rotation speed changes, it could potentially throw off the very concept of time… or at least the concept of alarm clocks.

According to various physicists around the world, the Earth has actually begun to spin at a subtly faster rate for the first time in almost 60 years. The 28 fastest days in the history of the Earth all occurred over the course of 2020. There’s all sorts of potential causes for this, such as atmospheric conditions, ocean currents, and the rumbling of the Earth’s molten core, but the point of it all is that the world’s time keepers are heavily considering adjusting the global time as a result.

The Coordinated Universal Time (or UTC) utilized by the world’s timekeepers and monitored by atomic clocks has had adjustments before. Sometimes, in the summer or at the end of a year, time keepers add a “leap second” because the Earth was rotating a tad slower than usual. In this case, though, since the Earth was rotating faster and the days were shorter, timekeepers are mulling the application of a “negative leap second,” removing a second from UTC to keep the clocks balanced.

“It’s quite possible that a negative leap second will be needed if the Earth’s rotation rate increases further, but it’s too early to say if this is likely to happen,” physicist Peter Whibberley of the National Physics Laboratory in the U.K., told The Telegraph. “There are also international discussions taking place about the future of leap seconds, and it’s also possible that the need for a negative leap second might push the decision towards ending leap seconds for good.”