Atomic clocks have revealed that the length of a day on Earth is getting longer. Scientists believe that it can have drastic effect on timekeeping and adversely impact GPS systems and even the internet.
Remember when a few days ago, the Earth made a record for the shortest day ever? It seems that the record does not represent the general trend after all. In fact, atomic clocks and astronomical measurements have revealed that the days on the Earth are getting longer. While it may not seem like a big deal, its consequences can be catastrophic. Not only timekeeping will be problematic, it can also destroy GPS systems and even ‘break the internet’. And the worst part is that nobody knows why this is happening. Read on to find out how this affects us.
According to a report by ScienceAlert, it appears that ever since 2020, the days on Earth are getting longer. What it means in technical terms is that the Earth’s speed of rotation along its axis is slowing down. As a result, days are longer. Interestingly, for a few decades before 2020, the Earth was speeding up, but now a total reversal has been observed and the reason for this is a mystery so far.
But scientists have made speculations and the most popular one so far is related to the change in Chandler wobble. It is a phenomenon where a small deviation in the axis of Earth is seen for a period of approximately 430 days. This wobble has diminished since 2020 according to telescopic observations, and it is believed that the slowdown of Earth is linked with this phenomenon.
How can the longer days of Earth affect us?
While it may seem that a longer day just means adjusting the clocks a little to account for the extra time, it is far more complicated than that. The precise understanding of the time our planet takes to complete one rotation is important for a lot of devices which use atomic clocks to measure time. Atomic clocks are independent of how fast or slow the Earth rotates, so there is a risk of it going out of sync.
This can, in effect, put a host of technologies like the GPS system and the internet itself out of sync. While this can still be corrected by adding a negative leap second, that can cause far more damage. According to a report by Ars Technica, engineers at Meta Platforms have argued that adding a leap second might break the entire internet and cause crashes and corrupt systems everywhere.