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The fastest spinning Earth in the past 50 years has left scientists with a headache: should we subtract a second?

2020 is a difficult year for all of us. However, there is a crisis that you may not be aware of. It was a crisis of time, for the earth was spinning the fastest in 50 years. More precisely, a day will end half a second earlier.

For those who don’t know, the earth tends to turn slowly and lengthen the day. So every 18 months you have to add a leap second (like this leap year) to round off the time, making sure the atomic clock is working properly with the sundial. From 1970 to the present, 27 leap seconds have been added. This time, however, the earth turned quickly, overturning the tradition of leap seconds. Astronomers have shown that some devices will need an additional “negative second” (minus 1 second) to maintain their accuracy.

When it comes to our normal activities, it is true that the time of a second or half a millisecond is not worth much. However, they are necessary for devices such as satellites, computers, communication equipment … to work under the atomic clock to work precisely with solar time. Scientists are still debating whether or not to add a leap second, and it doesn’t look like the story is over. Once the argument is over, the earth will slowly return and the positive leap seconds will compensate for the negative leap seconds.

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