Now You Likely Have Even Less Time In A Day

If you’re one of those people who feel that all these earthquakes lately don’t really impact your life, maybe because all the dead and homeless people are far away from you, think again. Your day just got shorter, by (an estimated) little over over one and a quarter millionths of a second.

The same thing happened back when the tsunami hit Indonesia back  in 2004, too. That time the day shortened by 6.8 microseconds. No wonder you’re rushing to catch up your tasks!

I’m making light, but it does go to show that these are events of truly global proportions, no?

In case you’re wondering (and can’t be bothered to follow the link), it’s called the ‘ice skater effect’ in physics; when a spinning ice skater pulls in his or her arm, conservation of angular momentum causes the speed of the spin to increase, and so with the diameter of the Earth contracting slightly as the crust settles lower.

(No, the animation doesn’t demonstrate the effect, I just had it handy and thought it went well with the story. It actually demonstrates another cool effect, this one in neuroscience; our brains persist in seeing this changing 2D shape as a spinning 3D one, but because there are no actual depth cclues you can see the dancer as spinning either clockwise or counterclockwise, and with a little mental effort can even reverse the direction at any moment. It’s just a matter of whether you imagine her toes as passing in front or behind. Try it!)

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~ by B.T. Murtagh on March 2, 2010.

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