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Shortest day: Earth completes rotation in less than 24 hours, could have 'devastating effects'

Meta stated that should a negative leap second occur, the clock will change from 23:59:58 to 00:00:00 and this could have a “devastating effect on the software relying on timers or schedulers."

July 30, 2022 / 04:53 PM IST
Some researchers have suggested that the increased pace of rotation and shortened days could be related to the Chandler wobble--a small deviation in the Earth’s axis of rotation. (Representative image)

Some researchers have suggested that the increased pace of rotation and shortened days could be related to the Chandler wobble--a small deviation in the Earth’s axis of rotation. (Representative image)

On July 29, the Earth broke its record for the shortest day. It completed rotating on its axis 1.50 milliseconds--little over one thousandth of a second--earlier than 24 hours. This, however, is not the only time it has quickened its pace.

The planet completed a full spin on June 29, in a time that was 1.59 milliseconds shorter than its standard 24 hour period.

Recently, the Earth has been rotating faster, reported Independent. In fact,  2020 saw Earth create the month that has ever been measured since 1960s. The shortest day of all time that year was July 19. It was 1.47 milliseconds under 24 hours.

In 2021, although Earth continued to spin at a increased rate, it did not break records.

When looked at over much longer periods, however, it appears that Earth's spin is slowing. Every century, the planet takes a couple of milliseconds longer to complete one rotation, the publication reported.

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Although the causes of this are uncertain, scientists speculate that it could be because of processes in the inner or outer layers of the core, oceans, tides, or even climate change.

Some researchers have suggested that the increased pace of rotation and shortened days could be related to the Chandler wobble--a small deviation in the Earth’s axis of rotation.

"This is similar to the quiver one sees when a spinning top starts gaining momentum or slows down," stated scientists Leonid Zotov, Christian Bizouard, and Nikolay Sidorenkov who are scheduled to present at the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society next week.

Read more: In Pics | A look at what potential does asteroid mining hold

If the Earth continues to rotate at an increasing rate it could lead to the introduction of the negative leap second to keep the rate that the Earth orbits the Sun consistent with the measurement from atomic clocks, the Independent reported.

But, the negative leap second could potentially create issues for IT systems. In a recently-published blog that stated the leap second “mainly benefits scientists and astronomers”, Meta stated that it is a “risky practice that does more harm than good”.

That's because the clock progresses from 23:59:59 to 23:59:60 before resetting to 00:00:00. A time jump like this can crash programmes or corrupts data due to the timestamps on the data storage.

Meta also stated that should a negative leap second occur, the clock will change from 23:59:58 to 00:00:00 and this could have a “devastating effect on the software relying on timers or schedulers."

Read more: Aphelion 2022: Earth was farthest from the Sun on July 4. Here's why
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first published: Jul 30, 2022 04:40 pm
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