We Just Had The Shortest Day Ever
So short that scientists want to add a “negative leap second”.
On June 29, the National Physical Laboratory in England recorded the shortest day in history: 1.59 milliseconds less than 24 hours. Using data from the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service it was determined that 2020 boasted 28 of the shortest days recorded in the world since the introduction of the atomic clock in the 1960s, making measurement more scientifically accurate. What the heck is going on?
The Earth is increasing the speed of its rotation, more and more. This means that in a while our standard of 24 hours will be out of sync with the actual real day. For this scientists may want to introduce a “negative leap second” which could help compensate for the shorter days we experience. However, all this will lead to problems.
“The impact of a negative leap second has never been tested on a large scale; could have a devastating effect on software that relies on timers or programmers,“ Meta engineers Oleg Obleukhov and Ahmad Byagowi note in the post. ”In any case, every leap second is a major source of pain for the people who manage hardware infrastructure “.
While engineers are clamoring for the abolition of the leap second, scientists are still trying to understand why the Earth’s rotational speed is changing. If it were just a phase there would be no reason to worry. But if the Earth really keeps spinning faster and faster then the problems won’t just be technological in nature.