As the world turns
Even though it’s over, 2020 is still getting worse. Case in point, scientists have discovered that, due to a variety of circumstances, the Earth apparently spun on its axis at an increased rate last year. Yes, our collective merry-go-round is going faster—hang on tight.
Though the increased speed added up to only a mere second lost, that’s all the time we need to confirm the world is indeed spinning out of control.
With a speedier globe comes a requisite set of 365 shorter days. Given the unprecedented misery of 2020, perhaps shorter is better. Unless it’s your birthday. The shortest day of 2020 was July 19, which also happens to be my birthday. So, yes, the annual celebration of my earthly existence was shorter than yours. Or, if you’re going to be a size queen about it, yes, your b-day was bigger than mine.
Back in the old, slower days, a full day was 86,400 seconds. On July 19, 2020, the day was 1.4602 milliseconds shy of a complete 24 hours, making it the shortest day ever recorded.
No one knows why this is happening, but here’s my theory—ever notice how objects speed up when they’re circling the drain?
All this terrestrial turning brings to mind Superman in the original 1978 Christopher Reeve film, wherein the titular hero uses his superness to reverse the rotation of the earth. Why did he undertake such a Herculean effort? To mess with magnetic fields or cause geological and meteorological chaos? No—he did it to turn back the course of time a few seconds in order to thwart Lex Luthor’s play for world domination. We can’t blame him for thinking this could work— he went to public schools, after all.
It raises the question, though, what if we had a globally-scaled “redo” button? What day in 2020 would we have pushed it? What was the obvious first misstep when we coulda, shoulda, woulda recognized the mistake and hit the redo button? Or more to the point, when should we hit it now?
Even if it means donning a cape and turning back the clock one orbit at a time, it’s worth a shot (and it’s probably the only shot most of us will be getting any time soon). If capes aren’t your thing, some heroes wear masks.
Editor Daedalus Howell is in geosynchronous orbit at DaedalusHowell.com.