While most of us last weekend were watching the tragic scene unfold in Chile, or waiting to see if a tsunami was charging towards Hawaii, scientists were discovering that the 8.8 quake in Chile last week not only shifted the earth's axis but it also shortened our day. Yes. Seriously.
According to businessweek.com , “The length of the day should have gotten shorter by 1.26 microseconds (millionths of a second)...” and “The axis about which the Earth’s mass is balanced should have moved by 2.7 milliarcseconds (about 8 centimeters or 3 inches).” And, if you already didn't know, the massive 9.1 Sumatran quake in 2004 "...shortened the day by 6.8 microseconds and shifted the axis by about 2.3 milliarcseconds..." So I guess this happens all the time.
To most of you this tiny three-inch shift in the earth's axis might not seem like a whole lot, but when you think about it from a scientific point of view I'm sure it really throws off a lot of calculations. I can imagine a bunch of physicists and geologists are now doing long, complicated, equations trying to reset clocks and change known data points.
I find this really really cool - what can I say, I'm a science geek. I grew up with a dad (he reads this and will back me up) who instead of reciting us traditional bedtime stories would show us books on plate tectonics and volcanoes. I was probably the only seven-year-old who understood that Hawaii was drifting northwest and a new island was forming way below the ocean surface. My older sister, no surprise, majored in geology.
A mere 1.26 microseconds probably won't change a thing in your daily lives. So don't worry, you were only 1.26 microseconds late for work or school this morning, no one will notice. And there's no need to reset your watch, well, unless of course you're NASA.
This blog started out as a place to post fiction about not feeling grounded. I quickly realized that I prefer writing essays about living mindfully, living green, ecology, motherhood and looking for ways to feel more grounded, hence the "holdfast". Thanks for visiting!I hope you found what you were seeking. -kate
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