An interesting factoid in an MSNBC report this morning caused me to revisit the idea of gravity. I’m not going back to its effect on body parts; that was depressing enough the first time around. No, this time, I’m talking about that which holds us in place on this planet of ours.
We all know that Earth spins around on its axis (the north-south one, that is) once every day. But did you know that it is spinning at about 1,000 mph? (I didn’t.) Yikes, hold on your hat. Whilst I was bemoaning gravity in my earlier post, I’m forced to appreciate that it’s here. Otherwise… Well, you know.
As an aside, the main focus of the article is worth noting. According to a NASA research scientist, the 8.8 quake in Chile last week may have knocked us for a loop. Not quite ass over teakettle, but enough for those who watch this sort of thing to notice. It seems that the earthquake shifted Earth’s “figure axis” enough to actually change its rotation. The figure axis is different from the north-south one; this is the one around which the Earth’s mass is balanced. (I’m pretty sure my personal figure axis shifted a long time ago.)
Anyway, that shift (for all of you who have noticed that odd phenomenon that makes time somehow speed by faster as we grow older) has actually shortened the length of our days. Oh, I don’t think there’s any need to panic. The day has only shortened by 1.26 milliseconds. But still. Apparently every strong earthquake has this effect to some degree. Let’s see, there’s this one, and several other Chilean earthquakes, and the Haitian one, and many Sumatran quakes, and all the Alaskan quakes, and…
Is that just the tiniest bubble of panic I feel forming? I mean, it’s March already, and I haven’t even started my holiday shopping.