Scientists say yes, but maybe do not wait up
If you have ever envied for more time in a day, we have got some good news for you. The days are really getting longer, and they have been for millions of years … by two-thousandths of a second each day.
Scientists with the Time and Frequency Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) say, around 200 million years ago, there were only 23 hours in a day. Can you imagine?
Today, of course, we’ve 24-hour days. But — and maybe do not hold your breath for this one — 200 million years from now, the length of a day will be 25 hours. That is one more hour to get done all those future chores like intergalactic grocery purchasing and zero-gravity dog walking. Our descendants will question how we ever got anything done in just 24 hours. How archaic.
What causes days to get longer?
This is going to come out a little apocalyptic, but remember that it has been happening for hundreds of millions of years: Our planet is turning slower and slower every day. For that, you can thank the moon — our ever-present little sister, hovering close to our side since the dawn of time.
Like any good little sister, the moon wouldn’t be doing her job if she didn’t drag us back just a smidge. To quote the Washington Post:
As the Earth turns, the moon’s gravitational pulls on the Earth’s oceans and some of the crust below. As the planet rotates, this tidal interaction with the moon acts like the rubber damper on a carnival wheel that slowly brings the rotating wheel to a halt. This accounts for the bulk of the roughly two-millisecond slowdown of Earth’s rotation for each century’s worth of this tidal drag.
But the moon isn’t all to blame for our space-time conundrum. Scientists say that even events on Earth can affect how fast the planet turns on its axis. “Any process that redistributes lots of mass upward or downward will slow or speed the rotation, much as a spinning ice skater slows or quickens her rotation by drawing in or extending her arms,” writes the Washington Post.
What does that mean for today’s workers?
Most probably, nothing. Sure, you could try to set off some Day After Tomorrow-type events that could potentially slow motion of Earth by an additional millisecond or two, but it is
unlikely your efforts would give you all the time required to finish up that mile-long to-do list.
Besides, and not to burst your company’s 200 million-year growth plans, but the year will also be shorter. So while you will have more time in a day, you will have fewer days in the year to meet whatever sales goals you are hoping to accomplish.
Here is how that works: Two-hundred million years ago, years were about 385 days long. Now, they are 365. In another 200 million years, they will be 335 days long. Assuming people still age at the same rate they do today, the U.S. will have to up the drinking age to 22. Hovercar rentals will not be available to anybody under age 26. And the average person will live to be 66 … unless we’re all living to be 200, thanks to cryogenics.
Keep this in mind as you build your projections, and do not forget to make the most of your spare time. That is two-thousandths of a second back in your day!