Why Time Will Stop In 2029

UC San Diego geophysicist Professor Duncan Agnew stated in his paper that as Earth’s rotation has been increasing, time will stop in 2029, and a second could be removed.

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Every four years, there is an additional day added to February, which is referred to as a leap year.

However, an additional “leap second” is added every few years, usually at the end of June or December.

This is because the Earth’s rotational speed varies significantly, making a full rotation not necessarily equal to a whole day.

The Polar vortex ‘spinning backward’ above the Arctic after a major reversal event triggers atmospheric upheaval, including an ozone spike, due to sudden stratospheric warming, impacting global weather patterns.

For the first time, a US scientist is now advocating for a “negative” leap second, or the elimination of a second.

The negative leap second, according to UC San Diego geophysicist Professor Duncan Agnew, should occur around 2029 to explain why the Earth is rotating too quickly. However, he cautions that this could cause “unprecedented” issues with computers and smartphones.

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Why Time Will Stop In 2029 2
To make up for irregularities in the Earth’s spin, leap seconds are traditionally added – but for the first time, a second could be taken away, possibly in 2029 
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A leap second was last added on December 31, 2016. Here is a screenshot from the time.gov website with the leap second added. You can see how this would confuse computers. Professor Duncan Agnew at UC San Diego suggests removing a second in 2029 – so the final time reading of the year would be 23:59:58 

“Extrapolating the trends for the core and other relevant phenomena to predict future Earth orientation shows that UTC as now defined will require a negative discontinuity by 2029,” says Professor Agnew in his new paper.

“This will pose an unprecedented problem for computer network timing and may require changes in UTC to be made earlier than is planned.”

Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is determined globally by highly accurate “atomic clocks” that tick constantly and precisely.

These atomic clocks, however, are not precisely in line with observed “solar time,” which defines days as one complete rotation of the Earth in the past.

The moon’s attraction causes the two time systems to periodically drift apart, changing the amount of time it takes for a single planetary revolution.

There have been 27 additions of leap seconds since 1972; the most recent one occurred in 2016.

On the other hand, since 2020, the Earth’s rotation has been increasing rather than decreasing.

Thus, to maintain observed solar time in alignment with clocks, it might be necessary to eliminate one leap second instead of adding one in the future.

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Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is defined by sophisticated, ultra-precise ‘atomic clocks’ around the world, which tick precisely and continuously. Experts are pictured here with the NIST-F2 atomic clock in the US

When Earth rotates too slowly, a “positive” leap second is added, and when Earth rotates too quickly, a “negative” leap second is subtracted.

“Even a few years ago, the expectation was that leap seconds would always be positive, and happen more and more often,” said Professor Agnew.

“But if you look at changes in the Earth’s rotation, which is the reason for leap seconds, and break down what causes these changes, it looks like a negative one is quite likely.”

Being out of sync with everyone else’s time can be quite disconcerting, as anyone who has neglected to move their clocks forward or backward by an hour will attest to.

The issue is that leap seconds can cause the same kind of misunderstanding, particularly with today’s sophisticated technological systems.

A computer network will go out of sync with everything if it is unaware of them.

The ‘order’ button, for instance, will appear to create two activities at various times, not simply one, if the computers at your bank and an online retailer maintain different times.

“One second doesn’t sound like much, but in today’s interconnected world, getting the time wrong could lead to huge problems,” said Professor Agnew. 

“Many systems now have software that can accept an additional second, but few if any allow for removing a second, so that a negative leap second is expected to create many difficulties.”

The Earth’s liquid core, a mass of molten iron inside the planet’s solid core, is one of the many variables that affect how quickly the globe rotates year after year.

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Several factors cause the Earth’s rotation rate to vary from year to year and one of them is Earth’s liquid core – a mass of molten iron inside the solid part of the planet (stock image)

The Earth’s magnetic field is created by the interaction of various core components moving at extremely slow speeds.

The Earth spins faster or slower as a result of these shifting motions.

According to Professor Agnew’s latest research, melting ice at high latitudes brought on by global warming is another reason for slowing down Earth’s rotation.

Earth’s ‘resistance’ to angular acceleration grows as a result of the melting ice, which spreads the water over the entire ocean and slows down the planet.

Thus, even if the Earth’s rotation has been accelerating generally, the requirement for a negative leap second is delayed as a result of global warming.

According to Professor Agnew, the negative leap second would be required three years earlier, in 2026, if the slowing of Earth’s rotation brought on by melting ice hadn’t occurred.

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Each day on Earth contains 86,400 seconds, but the rotation isn’t uniform, which means over a year, each day has a fraction of a second more or less

He continues, “This delay is only a minor benefit compared to massive problems from global warming, even though it will give more time to prepare.”

In his work, which was published in the journal Nature, he claims that “Increased melting of ice in Greenland and Antarctica, measured by satellite gravity, has decreased the angular velocity of Earth more rapidly than before.”

“Global warming and global timekeeping have become inextricably linked and may be more so in the future.'”

Scientists voted in 2022 to do away with the leap second system completely, although this may not happen until 2035, by which time it may have been necessary to use a negative leap second.

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  1. Geez, and here’s me worrying about elephants falling from the sky!
    We have enough REAL problems without making up new ones
    that might never be!

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