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If the Earth Spins Any Faster, There'll Only Be 59 Seconds in a Minute

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

For centuries, the 24 hours (86,400 seconds) has been considered the confirmed speed. Slowly, the speed took slightly less. And in 2020, the shortest day that was observedwas 1.4602 milliseconds shorter than the full 24 hours.

There are 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour, and 60 seconds in a minute. But what if it were to change?

The way we perceive time is based on Earth’s rotation. The planet completes one full rotation in 24 hours, hence, we get our date and time systems. However, if the latest data is to be believed, this system is about to change. The Earth is now spinning just a bit faster than it has for millennia and the full rotation is slightly less than 24 hours now.

As a result, time is flying faster. The second it takes you to read this word is actually less than the conventionally acknowledged meaning of “a second".Now the question arises, if the Earth is moving faster, do we need to change how we count time? After all, from sundials of the ancient age to the analog clocks of today - every second is timed according to earth’s rotational speed.

According to Dailymail, there is a debate among the “timekeepers of the world” on how to adjust time with the faster spinning of the planet. One possible solutionto make 24 hours match the speed of the Earth is to remove a second from the minute-count.

The confusion regarding time isn’t entirely new. The way Earth keeps track of time is through solar clocks (traditional time-keeping) and atomic clocks (using atoms of the electromagnetic spectrum as frequency standard). Sometimes, there is a gap between the two. Since the 1970s, around 27 “leap seconds” have been added to the latter to keep it in sync with the solar clock.

Now some experts are suggesting to ass “negative leap second",a phenomenon that has never even been discussed as a possibility before. For the past few years, Earth has been spinning faster and the removal of the second could help reorganise the time-system back in sync with the rotation speed.

For centuries, the 24 hours (86,400 seconds) has been considered the confirmed speed. Slowly, the speed took slightly less. And in 2020, the shortest day that was observed was 1.4602 milliseconds shorter than the full 24 hours.

Adding or removing even a millisecond from the way we track time can have adverse effects on communication, travels, satellites, and so on. Everything is timed in this world. A recent example of how time can impact communications was in 2012, when the global timekeepers added an extra second to the day to keep the two clocks in sync. On July 1, multiple websites malfunctioned due to the extra second wrecking their servers and source codes. Though a person sitting in front of the computer will not likely know that Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) had an added extra second, but the codes that are timed to milli-and microseconds go haywire due to the leap.

Whereas, solar equipment and satellites are based on solar time. If the Earth is indeed spinning faster, then their timing can also be affected.According to the Telegraph, there is no denying that Earth’s rotational speed has increased in the last five decades, but it is too soon to decide whether the addition of “negative leap” is required.


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