Why June 29, 2022 is the shortest day in history


Many adults suffer from the fact that they do not have time to complete all the planned tasks in one day. Sometimes you really want to have an extra couple of hours in the day to devote them to yourself and rest. Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that the time in the day becomes, on the contrary, less. Scientists recently announced, which on June 29, 2022 turned out to be the shortest on record. In everyday life, this change was definitely not noticed by anyone – we are talking about shortening the day by 1.59 milliseconds. But in the future, this trend may continue and may greatly affect our lives. If certain measures are not taken, such changes can lead to catastrophes with human casualties. So, why is there less time in the day, what problems can this develop into and what can be done to avoid disaster?

Why is there less time in the day?

The number of hours, minutes and seconds in a day depends on the speed of the Earth’s rotation around its axis. Our planet makes a complete revolution in about 24 hours, but on some days there are fluctuations of a few milliseconds. Around 1970, when precision radio astronomy was introduced to the world, researchers noticed that the Earth began to rotate more slowly. But for several years in a row, scientists have recorded the acceleration of this process. On one day in 2020, a 1.47 millisecond reduction in the day was recorded. And on July 29, 2022, a record was set – this day was shorter than usual by 1.59 milliseconds.

The Earth began to rotate around its axis faster, and this puzzles scientists

Why did the earth start spinning faster

The speed of rotation of the planet has increased – this is a fact. But scientists cannot explain why this is happening and whether the trend will continue in the future. Some believe that the record for the shortest day on record has been reached and things will return to normal in the future. But other experts are of the opinion that the days will continue to shorten. If this is indeed the case, they will have to make changes to the atomic clock.

Time on Earth is accelerating, but scientists know what to do in such cases

What is an atomic clock

Since 1973, scientists have been measuring the speed of the Earth’s rotation with the help of an atomic clock, a device for measuring time, which uses natural oscillations associated with processes at the atomic and molecular level as a periodic process. This process is controlled by the International Earth Rotation Service (ISER) – in critical situations, specialists have to add extra seconds to the day or subtract them to prevent disasters.

atomic clock

Consequences of accelerating the Earth’s rotation

If the planet continues to rotate faster, scientists will have to reset the atomic clock. The fact is that they are guided by all technologies that are at least somehow connected with navigation – in particular, we are talking about devices with support for satellite systems GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and so on. If the atomic clocks are not synchronized with the planet’s new rotational speed, navigation devices may begin to incorrectly determine the position of spacecraft, satellites, cars, aircraft, ballistic missiles, and so on. No one will notice a change in time by a few milliseconds – everyone will sleep and work in the usual mode. But due to failures in the operation of navigation equipment, the number of accidents may increase: car accidents, plane crashes, emergencies in space, and so on.

If nothing is done, the acceleration of the Earth’s rotation can lead to disasters.

In addition, there is a risk that due to the acceleration of the Earth’s rotation, people may lose their connection – computers, smartphones and other devices for exchanging information may stop working. And all because they regularly communicate with the servers of the network time protocol – if the readings of the atomic clock do not match the actual speed of the Earth’s rotation, a failure may occur.

In the end, it turns out that shortening the day mainly affects only the technique. Such changes should not affect the health of people – circadian rhythms will remain the same. However, in most cases, people themselves disrupt their internal clock, which causes health problems. We talked about how to properly set up circadian rhythms on our own in our previous article.

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