Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

Planet Earth is going to lose a second for the first time ever, and while it might not seem like much, it’s kind of a big deal.

Scientists think that the Earth‘s rotation is actually accelerating, meaning we need to eliminate a second from our clocks

Essentially, it means that it does not take a full 24 hours for the Earth to spin.

The change isn’t happening just yet, but is expected to occur in the near future.

Planet Earth is going to lose a second.

Heritage Space/Heritage Images/Getty Images

Now, we’re all used to turning our clocks backwards and forwards (this is next happening on Sunday, 31 March, FYI, when the clocks will go forward).

Yep, we’ll all lose an hour of sleep, but the change will signal that summer is well and truly on its way.

While we change the clocks to make better use of natural daylight, losing a second from our time is totally unexpected.

It essentially means that instead of there being 60 seconds in the final minute before midnight, there would only be 59.

In other words, the time 23.59.59 would not exist, which is pretty mind-boggling.

Of course, so much of our daily lives rely on time, as well as the technologies we use and the financial markets across the globe.

But due to the Earth’s rotation not being totally constant, the second may be required so that they can once again align.

“This is an unprecedented situation and a big deal,” said Duncan Agnew, a geophysicist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.

Agnew said it won’t ‘lead to a catastrophe’ but is a notable event.

“It’s not a huge change in the Earth’s rotation that’s going to lead to some catastrophe or anything, but it is something notable. It’s yet another indication that we’re in a very unusual time,” he added.

It's not clear what the implications could be.

Kinga Krzeminska/Getty Stock Images

But Patrizia Tavella, from the Time Department at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, explained that because this has never happened before, the problems it could cause are unknown.

“A negative leap second has never been added or tested, so the problems it could create are without precedent,” she wrote.

Tavella suggested that world experts should try and assess how likely it is that we will need to eliminate a second and the risks it could pose.

The concept of adding and losing seconds hasn’t always been a thing. Years ago, time was in alignment with the rotation of our planet, but since the 1950s the world has moved away from this method.