2020 was a rough year for many of us, but there was another crisis going on that you probably weren’t even aware of: a time crisis. Unfortunately, no light guns will save us here. According to TimeAndDate.com, the Earth spun faster than in 2020 than in any other time in the past 50 years, with the 28 shortest days since 1960.
As reported in the Telegraph, experts and astronomers warn that timekeepers may need to introduce a negative leap second in order to stay accurate. Leap seconds–which are used to accommodate differences between atomic time and less-precise solar time–have previously been used to solve such issues. However, a leap second in 2012 wreaked havoc across the Internet, with Reddit, Yelp, Mozilla, and others reporting Y2K-esque crashes due to the shift.
Some experts have called for an end to leap seconds entirely, opining that they are a relic of a past age, since much of the world relies on atomic time today. The World Radiocommuncation Conference may end up abolishing the practice in 2023, though it’s unclear how likely this is to happen. Earth’s rotational speed varies considerably due to the motion of tides, the atmosphere, and the planet’s core, as well as other factors, such as snowfall on mountains.