Tuesday, March 02, 2010

40 Days of Lent: Day Fourteen

The Chilean earthquake was so powerful that it has shifted the Earth's axis and shortened the day.

Read that sentence again, and here's the article from which I got my info:

Chile earthquake: Earth axis shifted, day shortened

March 02, 2010 04:17 PM EST

The earthquake that rocked Chile has apparently shifted the Earth axis, according to a report by Ker Than of National Geographic news.

The magnitude 8.8 quake is the fifth strongest ever recorded, according to the USGS, and apparently caused the axis of the Earth to shift by about three inches.

Calculations done by geophysicist Richard Gross of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory say that, by speeding up the Earth's rotation, the quake could have shortened an Earth day by 1.26 millionths of a second.

Scientists explained the phenomenon by drawing comparisons to a figure skater. Keith Sverdrup said that as a skater spins and pulls her arms in, she starts rotation faster. During the quake, a portion of Earth's mass pulled in, speeding the planet's rotation ever so slightly.

Don't expect to notice a significant change to your day, or any change at all, for that matter. Apparently scientists can measure Earth days only with an accuracy within 20 millionths of a second, meaning the recent changes can be estimated but not scientifically proven.

I have two thoughts about this. One: "Cool." The other: "Uh-oh."

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