Twist we just had the shortest day

On June 29, the National Physical Laboratory in England recorded the shortest day in history: 1.59 milliseconds in less than 24 hours. Using data from the International Earth Rotation and Reference System Service, 2020 was found to have 28 of the shortest days recorded in the world since the advent of atomic clocks in the 1960s, making the measurements more scientifically accurate.

What the hell is going on?

planet earth with realistic geography surface and orbital 3d cloud atmosphere outer space world view earth globe sphere continents 3d rendering Graphic elements of this image furnished by NASA

Fritz Jorgensen Getty Images

The earth is increasing its speed of rotation, more and more. This means that after some time, our standard 24-hour schedule will not match the real day. To do this, scientists may want to introduce a “negative leap second” that could help offset the shorter days we experience. However, all this will lead to problems.

“The impact of a negative leap second has never been tested on a large scale; can have a devastating effect on software that relies on timers or programmers,” Meta engineers Oleg Obleukhov and Ahmad Byagovi note in their post.

While engineers are demanding the abolition of the leap second, scientists are still trying to figure out why the Earth’s rotation is changing. If it was just a phase, there would be no cause for concern. But if the Earth really spins faster and faster, then the problems will not only be of a technological nature.

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