1.4 billion years ago, the Earth had a clock of 18-hours! Over the years, the Earth slowed the speed of revolution and now we spend a day of 24 hours. What changed in 1.4 billion years? Apparently, moon does more than just revolving around the Earth. According to a study, moon has made Earth’s days longer as it has been slowly moving away from the Earth. As moon is slowly drifting away from the Earth, its gravitational pull weakens, and the Earth takes more time to complete the 360-degree rotation.
Researchers at the university of Wisconsin-Madison conducted an experiment regarding the impacts of moon on the Earth’s rotations. According to the study, 1.4 million years ago, moon was much closer to the Earth, which made Earth move faster around itself. Thus, the Earth’s day lasted for 18 hours instead of 24. The study calculated that moon moves about 1.5 inches away from its host planet each year due to the tidal forces of the Earth. As the moon goes farther, the Earth revolves slowly, making the day longer. This study has become wish-come-true moment for all those who want more number of hours in a day to complete their tasks. “As the moon moves away, the Earth is like a spinning figure skater who slows down as they stretch their arms out,” explained Stephen Meyers, the co-author of the study that published in a the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
However, no need to panic, we won’t be able to notice the difference. Forget about our generation, our great-great-great-grandchildren won’t feel a thing. The slow departure of moon from Earth is not that significant. In every 100 years, the day will be two milliseconds longer, estimated an astronomer Britt Scharringhausen. The researchers at the university of Wisconsin used a statistical method called astrochronology. They examined the rock formation in China and the Atlantic Ocean that takes back 1.4 billion years to understand the history of the Earth. The team used a complex method, astrochronology, to connect astronomical theories with geological observations. Meyers believes that the geological record is an astronomical observatory for the early day of the solar system. We can peek into the past of the Earth as its pulsing rhythm is preserved in the rocks. However, the past of the planet spans over billions of years and the geographical record is very limited to make fair observations.
Any planet’s momentum is influenced by other celestial objects including the sun and moon. They all contribute to variations in how a planet revolves around its own axis. These variations are known as Milankovitch cycles, which can alter a planet’s climate rhythms and where sunlight is distributed on the Earth. Over the billion years, the planet has changed significantly since a minute variation in the any moving celestial object can cause big changes in coming million years. However, it is difficult to pinpoint the origins of these variations. The authors hope that the study answers the mysteries of the Earth’s past and provides some calculations about the future of our home planet. However, the study cleared one thing, the universe is not a fined-tuned clock, but a dynamic place carefully reliable on the neighboring stars, plants, and even satellites such as our dear moon.