If you think that 2020 has dragged on for too long, you will probably be surprised to learn that our planet has actually spun unusually fast. Last year, July 19 was the day on which the Earth made the shortest rotation around its axis since such observations were made. The planet completed its rotation 1.46 milliseconds faster than the usual 86,400 seconds. This is shown by the data of the British National Physical Laboratory, an institution founded in 1900, which aims to establish measurement standards, the British newspaper “Telegraph” reported.
In fact, in 2020, the record for the shortest measured day was improved 28 times. 2021 is expected to be the shortest year since the measurements were taken.
Similar measurements are made with atomic clocks created in the 1960s, which use relativity to fixed stars.
The opposite of the current trend – in previous decades, the speed of the planet has slowed down. Therefore, from the 1970s until today, 27 seconds had to be added to atomic time to synchronize the clocks with the slowing planet. The last such second was added to New Year 2016, when clocks around the world stopped for a second so that the Earth’s rotation could “catch up”.
The effect of leap seconds may be greater than you think. In 2012, when a leap second had to be added, the online systems of Mozilla, Reddit, Foursquare, Yelp, Linkedin, StumbleUpon blocked and there were problems with programs written in Java.
Now, however, we have the opposite trend and the planet is accelerating and may soon need to be “erased” for a second. “It is very possible that a negative leap second should be subtracted from the time measurement, but it is too early to do so. There is currently an international discussion in the scientific community about the future of leap seconds, “said Peter Wibberley, a senior fellow at the National Physics Laboratory. Some countries, for example, want to switch entirely to atomic time and stop adding or subtracting leap seconds. A global decision is expected to be taken at the International Radio-communication Conference in 2023.