Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Japan Earthquake May Have Shifted Earth's Axis

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the buy-a-new-clock dept.

Earth 253

Zothecula writes "Using a complex model to perform a theoretical calculation based on a US Geological Survey, Richard Gross of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has determined that by changing the distribution of the Earth's mass, the earthquake that devastated Japan last Friday should have sped up the Earth's rotation, resulting in a day that is about 1.8 microseconds (1.8 millionths of a second) shorter."

cancel ×

253 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

On the positive side... (5, Funny)

Albert Sandberg (315235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505160)

... the work day got about 0.6 microseconds shorter, woo! Oh, wait....

Re:On the positive side... (5, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505758)

That's coming out of your paycheck.

Re:On the positive side... (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505808)

/collective shoulders dropping in realisation *sigh* ...

Re:On the positive side... (1)

surzirra (1977164) | more than 3 years ago | (#35506066)

Oh, great job! Now it's 0.7 milliseconds of pay.

and you are not full time = no health insurance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35506008)

and you are not full time = no health insurance

Re:On the positive side... (1)

FroMan (111520) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505886)

More realistically, it come out of your sleeping time.

Re:On the positive side... (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505996)

More realistically, it come out of your sleeping time.

Oh please, you know they're make you lose the microseconds during the night, AND cut them out of your pay as well.

Re:On the positive side... (1)

MikeDirnt69 (1105185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35506098)

You mean coffee time.

Damn! (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505164)

Now I need to recalibrate my clocks!

Re:Damn! (2)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505376)

It won't add up to a whole second for about 1711.2 years.

Re:Damn! (2)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505656)

So what? Some of us prefer to be ahead of time.

Re:Damn! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35505698)

Is that in metric time?

Re:Damn! (0)

subanark (937286) | more than 3 years ago | (#35506198)

Isn't a second defined to be 1/60th of a minute which is 1/60th of an hour, which is 1/24th of a day? And a day is the amount of time it takes for the sun to revolve around the earth. For this reason, it won't add up at all since this change will have redefined what a second is.

Re:Damn! (2)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 3 years ago | (#35506284)

Isn't a second defined to be 1/60th of a minute which is 1/60th of an hour, which is 1/24th of a day? And a day is the amount of time it takes for the sun to revolve around the earth. For this reason, it won't add up at all since this change will have redefined what a second is.

- queue sound of crickets chirping -

Re:Damn! (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35506306)

No. The second is the duration of 9 192 631 770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom (at rest and at 0K). Which will not have changed due to an earthquake.

Troll comment (1)

Skatox (1109939) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505172)

Now i will live more miliseconds.

Re:Troll comment (2)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505528)

Now i will live more miliseconds.

not too smart this one, kinda like what's heavier a pound of feathers or a pound of bricks.

Re:Troll comment (1)

Tr3vin (1220548) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505810)

It really depends on who you are buying your bricks and feathers from. I would suggest buying either in bulk. You will get a lot more for your money.

Re:Troll comment (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#35506092)

A pound of feathers may weigh as much as a pound of bricks, but an ounce of gold weighs more than an ounce of feathers, and a pound of gold weighs less than a pound of feathers.

Re:Troll comment (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 3 years ago | (#35506054)

Now i will live more miliseconds.

How is this a troll?
Because the Earth is rotating faster, we all just sped up a bit. You'll still live the same # of vibrations of a cesium atom on Earth, but to an outside observer, our cesium atoms are doin their thang a tad slower than theirs, and we will live a bit longer, relatively.

No wonder I feel tired. (0)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505186)

~2 microseconds less sleep each day.

Human beings (0)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505196)

I wonder how much (if any) effect human activities have had on the earth's axis and rotation. Things like mining, the damming of rivers, heck even the rising sea levels (if you believe in climate change).

Re:Human beings (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35505264)

Don't forget my massive cock. Your mother surely doesn't.

I'm sure the morning wood I get must be slowing down the earth due to the significant increase in the moment of inertia.

Re:Human beings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35505480)

Dad, why are you still posting on Slashdot?

Re:Human beings (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35505356)

Tee Three Gorges Dam.
http://www.theenergywatch.com/2010/06/18/three-gorges-dam-and-the-earths-rotation/

Bam.

Re:Human beings (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505366)

If all of the people waiting in line at McDonalds jumped at once, the day would get about 8.3 microseconds shorter.

Re:Human beings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35505636)

Really now - I'd be more concerned about the earth shattering.

Re:Human beings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35505686)

wait until after they've had their meals...

Re:Human beings (1)

dimeglio (456244) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505600)

Each time a meteorite hits the moon, it shifts it slightly which might likely have a bigger impact on earth than human activity does (affecting tides and waves). Also dinosaurs were MUCH bigger that humans. Defecating Brachiosaurus were likely the first cause of global warming (being endotherms).

Re:Human beings (1)

Oceanplexian (807998) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505836)

I really doubt that any recent human activity really plays a significant part in the scale of the Earth's rotation/axis. The earthquake released an equivalent energy of ~300mt of TNT. That's the equivalent of thousands of nuclear weapons being exploded.

On the grand scale of things, we don't play that big of an impact on a geological scale. Mother nature is a lot more awesome than anything we could come up with.

 

Re:Human beings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35506136)

Could you please express that in terms of Libraries of Congress ?

Re:Human beings (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505868)

Also, what if someone wanted to deliberately slow down the earth's rotation? Say, by turning a motor against it?

I did a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation that suggests someone could slow down the earth's rotation by 5% by spending $30 billion on electricity to turn a motor in the appropriate direction.

Re:Human beings (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 3 years ago | (#35506110)

All mechanical engineering students know you can accomplish that with a 1HP motor. Finding the gears might be somewhat more of a challenge though, maybe we could use the moon as a gear.

Re:Human beings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35506308)

What is the motor attached to?

Re:Human beings (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#35506282)

Well, if you climb a mountain, or move towards the equator, you will slow down the earth's rotation.
This in turn reduces the centrifugal force, and makes everybody slightly heavier.
Lawsuits will follow.

It's a dupe! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35505200)

Re:It's a dupe! (3, Funny)

travdaddy (527149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505278)

That's OK, now we can repost all the comments from that story and get modded up!

"People of Earth, at 18:00 GMT March 10 we all jump at the same time and regain our microsecond!"

Hm, maybe I should have changed the date on that one.

Re:It's a dupe! (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505402)

Great! I can go home a few microseconds early today. [slashdot.org]

Hope this works, I need the karma!

Re:It's a dupe! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35506114)

Just decided to troll the moderation system (+1 Informative). Drink a beer, think of me. Cheers.

Know your reader (5, Funny)

lxs (131946) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505202)

Did I read that correctly? Did the summary explain to us what a microsecond is?

Re:Know your reader (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35505358)

Apparently some of us aren't engineers. I guess that explains a few things.

Re:Know your reader (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505368)

Many people don't know what the common SI prefixes mean. When we were kids, we used to refer to the partial seconds (hundreds of a second or centiseconds?) as microseconds. I'm sure that common mistake stuck with a bunch of people into adult hood. For many people microseconds probably has no meaning at all, or they have the wrong meaning.

Re:Know your reader (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505546)

I bitched about a mangled printing of a number, and suggested scientific notation, 5.0e-06 m for 5 micrometers. A biologist replied saying, "I know micro is smaller than milli and that is enough. 5.0e-06 looks scary to me". He is not dumb, after all, he is a biologist. It would have taken him less than two minutes to understand the exponent notation and thus get a much richer understanding of numbers. But still SI notation somehow is seen very unfriendly.

Re:Know your reader (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505790)

Most people look at SI and wonder when the Swimsuit Edition is coming out.

Re:Know your reader (1)

Machtyn (759119) | more than 3 years ago | (#35506246)

The problem humans have, in general, is understanding large numbers. The inverse is also true, humans have, in general, a difficult time understanding small numbers. Comprehending that 1.3 million earths fit in the sun is really mind-blowing (and the sun, itself, is incredibly small compared to some stars). But so is understanding a particle is one billion times smaller than a millimeter.

It's enough for most of us to abstract that out. There is one AU of distance between the Earth and the Sun, mm is larger than a nm is larger than a um.

Re:Know your reader (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35505530)

You have to keep in mind that many readers of /. are from the US and thus handicapped when it comes to metric systems ;)

Re:Know your reader (1, Funny)

should_be_linear (779431) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505722)

Thats was translation of metric units for US readers. Otherwise they would think microsecond is 1/12 second.

Re:Know your reader (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35506094)

Don't you know anything? A microsecond is 1/60th of a second.

Damn "fair and balannced" journalists. (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505232)

May have? Every time you move an apple from one side of the room to the other it'll shift the axis. Something like this has done it for sure. The only question is: how much? This is a perfect example of journalists needing to have two viewpoints and just not understanding which are the possible differences. Anybody who thinks there are two (rather than one or many) possible right answers is in need of either and anti-lobotomy or a brain transplant....

Re:Damn "fair and balannced" journalists. (1)

Quirkz (1206400) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505464)

Or they're solving a quadratic equation?

Re:Damn "fair and balannced" journalists. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35505750)

Though causality would imply that you are correct, modern quantum mechanics shows that you may or may not be right.

Re:Damn "fair and balannced" journalists. (1)

nowen2dot (1768088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35506196)

Does the axis shift if it can't be measured? We can know fair or balanced, but not both. :)

Just open the box and see if the cat's alive already!

Will this speed up global warming? (1)

DigiTechGuy (1747636) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505244)

Because it's been a long winter and I'm ready for warmer weather.

Good God, Slashdot needs to explain a microsecond (0)

OzTech (524154) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505272)

The world really has gone to hell in a hand-basket when a news site that promotes itself as being "for nerds" needs to tell readers what a micro-second is.

Does anyone proof read or edit this "news for nerds" before it is posted?

Re:Good God, Slashdot needs to explain a microseco (0)

JustOK (667959) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505362)

they didn't have enough time, days are shorter now, ya know.

Re:Good God, Slashdot needs to explain a microseco (0)

wbav (223901) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505462)

But your life expectancy just went up.

So you have more days to complete everything. Remember, you can sleep when you're dead.

Re:Good God, Slashdot needs to explain a microseco (1, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505732)

Remember, you can sleep when you're dead.

That's not 'sleeping', that's 'dead'.

Re:Good God, Slashdot needs to explain a microseco (1)

ocdscouter (1922930) | more than 3 years ago | (#35506076)

Remember, you can sleep when you're dead.

That's not 'sleeping', that's 'dead'.

You mean Vinnie is actually going to send me sleep with the fishies?

Re:Good God, Slashdot needs to explain a microseco (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35505440)

I guess you'll have to switch to the news site "for smug elitists" instead.

Just when you think you're having a good day... (5, Funny)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505280)

Shift happens.

Re:Just when you think you're having a good day... (2)

tibit (1762298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505734)

We got shifted by our own planet. Go figure.

Re:Just when you think you're having a good day... (2)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505858)

It just put its foot up our axis.

Re:Just when you think you're having a good day... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35506338)

Shift happens. Your quip about the earthquake is groundbreaking.

Shifting the axis? (5, Informative)

Superdarion (1286310) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505308)

Everytime I heard that the Earth's axis had been changed during the Chile earthquake, I figured it was the rotation axis. I thought it was a little far-fetched, but I wasn't one to argue with the data. However, it is NOT the rotational axis that was shifted and this article finally clarifies that. I read many others before (probably regurgitations of the real scientific paper) and they never said that.

Apparently, the axis that shifted is that of mass, called the Figure Axis, meaning the axis of symmetry in the Earth's mass distribution. We're still rotating in the same direction (defined by an axis which is not the Figure one), though.

Re:Shifting the axis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35505712)

It's like what happens when a figure skater moves their arms closer to their body. Their mass has shifted and they don't wobble but they do spin faster.

Re:Shifting the axis? (1)

plover (150551) | more than 3 years ago | (#35506276)

It's like what happens when a figure skater moves their arms closer to their body. Their mass has shifted and they don't wobble but they do spin faster.

Since the earth didn't actually gain any new mass, I assume it had been slowing down as subduction shifted the crust in the build-up to the quake. Correct? Or did the shape of the globe change such that the north and south poles are now a tiny bit further apart, while the circumference at the equator shrank?

Doom, doom, DOOOOOOOM! (2)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505316)

Eh, it's just God setting us up for 2012. Just needed to tweek the axis a bit before he could start destroying us all. It's like tuning a set of rabbit ears on an old television.

Re:Doom, doom, DOOOOOOOM! (1, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505706)

>>>It's like tuning a set of rabbit ears on an old television.

Old??? Hey! Some of us still use "rabbit ears" aka antennas, you insensitive clod!

Re:Doom, doom, DOOOOOOOM! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35506206)

Isaiah 24:19-20

The earth is violently broken,

The earth is split open,

The earth is shaken exceedingly.

The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard,

And shall totter like a hut;

rounding error (1)

Necroloth (1512791) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505334)

1.8 microseconds....give or take a second

Re:rounding error (1)

ArundelCastle (1581543) | more than 3 years ago | (#35506056)

You'd have to be on crack [huffingtonpost.com] to make that kind of mistake.

Could Japan Future Earthquakes (+1, Helpful) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35505386)

split the Earth into separate pieces?

I can wait for the movie.

Yours In Novosibirsk,
Philboyd Studge

It evens out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35505414)

Surely this counteracts the rotational speed drop and wobble caused by all the fat-asses in the US, right? I mean, talk about shifting masses....

This is good (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505426)

A bunch more like this, and we can get rid of the leap year..

So...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35505488)

Maybe with enough of these, we can get rid of leap year?

physics explanation (4, Informative)

mikem170 (698970) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505538)

The site startswithabang [scienceblogs.com] has an excellant description of why this happens.

What happens, basically, is that during an earthquake heavier rock is being pulled from the crust towards the center of the earth. The radius of the planet shrinks a tiny bit and, like a skater pulling in their arms, causes it to spin faster.

Re:physics explanation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35505662)

Yes, Conservation of Angular Momentum. What a shame you had to explain it!

It is embarrassing how few people on this site understand basic high school science.

Re:physics explanation (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505792)

The older I get and the more I learn, the more I appreciate straightforward explanations of things in laymans terms.

My noggin only has so much storage. Having to remember the academically approved (sometimes obscure) technical terms for every phenomena in physics is a burden.

Re:physics explanation (1)

smelch (1988698) | more than 3 years ago | (#35506052)

You mean as you get older being a know-it-all jackass loses its appeal? I'm shocked!

Re:physics explanation (1)

DrMaurer (64120) | more than 3 years ago | (#35506212)

I know people in my high school that never took a physics class. That was almost 20 years ago. I think it's probably worse now.

This is not something to be proud of.

Now at the 3.8us increase after 2004 and 2011 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35505598)

Sped up in 2004 as well.
http://www.nature.com/news/2004/041230/full/news041229-6.html

GPS affected? (3, Interesting)

skylerweaver (997332) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505630)

Many of the comments on here are "1.8 microseconds, oh no I get less sleep! What a stupid finding."

But seriously, does this have an effect on GPS? GPS satellites need to be corrected for relativistic effects that cause their clocks to tick 38 microseconds/day different than the ground; which would cause error to accumulate at 10km/day. Does 1.8 microsecond difference in our day cause error to accumulate in GPS at the rate of 0.5km/day if not fixed?

Re:GPS affected? (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505848)

You're certainly right to an extent. What you imply is a special event is in fact the daily bread and butter of keeping up a positioning system satellite constellation. The GPS system's frame of reference is being constantly kept in sync with Earth's rotation. After all, the satellites are simply orbiting the Earth in some arbitrary orbits, and the ground stations constantly monitor their orbits. The orbital data -- the ephemerides -- are broadcast to GPS receivers. The net effect of changing Earth's rotational speed or axis or whatever is simply a change in ephemerides -- they are Earth-relative, not Sun-relative. Any ephemeride updates are automatic, and -- if needed -- would have already happened.

Effect on GPS (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35505680)

I wonder if anyone has taken into account this change in the length of the day on GPS position data. It seems on the face of it, that the GPS satellites that are in geo-synchronous orbit would need to have their orbits adjusted to compensate. Otherwise, position data will slowly drift. Anyone have any information (or expertise) regarding this?

Re:Effect on GPS (3, Informative)

skylerweaver (997332) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505762)

BTW: GPS satellites are NOT in geo-synchronous orbit.

This opens up possibilities (1)

JTsyo (1338447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505748)

We need to fund research on how we can use this mechanism to create the 25hr day so I can get an extra hour (preferably for sleep) each day.

Re:This opens up possibilities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35505904)

Move to Mars. It's not an hour longer, but close enough [cseligman.com] .

In the news: Angular momentum conserved! (5, Interesting)

Idarubicin (579475) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505752)

Angular momentum conserved!

Newton still right!

Basic principles of mechanics remain sound!

Film at eleven.

The speed of the Earth's rotation changes every time I ride an elevator, too. (Please resist the temptation to make a fat joke here; it's too obvious to be worth the trouble.) On a more impressive scale, there's a significant and variable amount of angular momentum stored in the atmosphere. Changes in major air currents year over year (things like El Nino, for instance) can change the length of the day by close to a millisecond: hundreds of times more than this little earthquake.

Didn't we already know this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35505772)

This news came out like the day of the earthquake or maybe the day after.

Oh right, this is Slashdot where they get news from another site that got their news from some other site.

It's the beginning.... (1)

GnomieHomie (1931380) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505796)

Just the start of 12/21/2012....DUN DUN DUN

Change of Mass? (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505802)

How did an earthquake change the mass of the earth? I didn't think it was strong enough to eject debris in to space.
Changing the density, shape, or distribution of mass of the earth I can understand, but as far as I know all the mass is still here.

Re:Change of Mass? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35505932)

It didn't. It seems you have no clue what you are talking about.

Re:Change of Mass? (1)

theBully (1056930) | more than 3 years ago | (#35506178)

How did an earthquake change the mass of the earth?

The article talks about "distribution of mass". Of what I can tell there was no mention of the mass itself to have changed.

NEO and asteroids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35505816)

Have the new orbit been taken into account when calculating asteroid hit probabilities?

Nice to refocus on a longer term view but... (1)

Fallen Andy (795676) | more than 3 years ago | (#35505828)

This englishman is feeling horribly sad about our cousins over there in Japan

If you live on a mostly island nation, there is nowhere to run , nowhere to hide

Personally, as an atheist, i'm tempted to pray for my (potentially future) friends over there

Different cultures, they don't matter...

Even now in the 21st century on earth we can have our "chestnuts" rattled quite easily

5.2,5.3 richter here in athens feels like nothing at all to worry about....

and btw, don't forget our new zealand friends who are facing even more aftershocks...

Andy

Get rid of Leap Years! (1)

smbell (974184) | more than 3 years ago | (#35506120)

Yay, with this 'newfound' knowledge all we need to do is build some space elevators, push enough mass far enough out to slow the earths rotation to be evenly divided by it's rotation around the sun, and we can get rid of all the crazy leap day rules. Make computer time actually doable in a real way.

Now that the day is shorter... (1)

nowen2dot (1768088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35506350)

can we get rid of daylight savings time!??

http://www.standardtime.com/ [standardtime.com]

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?