OK, Who's Overclocking The Earth?

from the no-wonder-time-feels-like-it's-passing-so-quickly dept

Remember back in 1999 when people started talking about “internet time”, which was this crazy notion that, thanks to the internet, the usual course of business went much much much faster? Well, it sounds like the Earth tried to get in on some of that, as it’s now been revealed that since 1999, our home planet has been making it’s annual trek around the sun one second faster than it was for quite some time. Between 1972 and 1999, we had to add a special “leap second” each year, since the Earth was slowing down, and losing a step. However, since 1999, for reasons no one is quite sure, the Earth appears to have caught a second wind and is speeding up a bit.

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Comments on “OK, Who's Overclocking The Earth?”

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Dave Starr says:

Overclocking the Earth

This is newsworthy, but it would be perhaps more newsworthy were it accurate. The referenced article correctly states that 1972 was the original year for addingt leap seconds, however a perusal of:


will show that 5 leap seconds between 1972 and 1999 were not required, including three in consectutive years, so the fact that 4 have not been added recently hardly proves a definitive trend.

Joe Schmoe says:

What time is it???

I never came away with the impression that internet time meant that biz time was faster, but rather the recognition of the 24/7 activity of the net connected [generation].

It would have been a cute idea to have a [S]watch (TM) time that you could recognize that Jack or Jill in Timbuk3 was awake without adding ot subtracting 14 hours in your head, but nothing much more…

dorpus says:

Medieval Guilt

For similar reasons, it’s been shown that wobbles in the Earth’s orbit have a far more dramatic impact on the Earth’s climate than minute variations in atmospheric composition. In medieval England before the Industrial Revolution, people grew wine and ate food quite similar to middle eastern food. Greenland had vineyards. Today it is much colder.

Perhaps future generations will view our Greenhouse Effect control efforts like the self-flagellators of medieval times, punishing ourselves for imaginary sins.

Brian the astronomer says:

Re: Re:

This is hardly a mysterious effect. The Earth’s rotation is slowing down with time. This is mostly due to tidal effects with the Moon and (to a much lesser extent) the Sun. There are also other factors involved, such as the shifting of mass (on the surface and under the surface) which create a wobble in the Earth’s rotation axis and leads to humans making adjustments in our timekeeping system.

Because we like to keep time by the apparent position of the Sun and/or stars in the sky as the Earth rotates on its axis, we are forced to resync our clocks every now and then to take into account that the Earth is not a perfect rotating sphere isolated from everything else in the universe.

Keppy says:

Re: Re: Years?

Earth’s orbit is indeed contracting ever so slightly along with the rest of the planets. In general, the time span between trips around the sun is decreasing. Over the span of thousands of ‘years’, each trip is shorter on average than the last.

This is why it bothers me when folks estimate that the universe or Earth is X-Billion years old. What’s a year going to be 6 billion trips around the sun from now?

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