Have you ever wished there were more hours in the day? If yes then it is the right time for you to get happy as geoscientists say that days on Earth are getting longer.
For billions of years, the moon is making days longer as it is moving away from Earth causing it to move slowly. About 1.4 billion years ago, when the moon was not that far from the earth, the days used to be just 18 hours and 41 minutes but it is 24 hours at present and increasing.
The study author of geoscience Stephen Meyers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison explained the relation between Earth's spin and the location of Moon as that of a spinning figure skater and his arms. The way skater slows down his spinning speed by stretching his arms out, the spinning speed of Earth is slowing down as the moon is distancing itself from the planet.
Earth's movement in space is influenced by the astronomical bodies that exert a force on it. It also includes other planets in addition to the moon. These bodies determine variations in the earth's rotation.
Over billions of years, the length of the day on Earth has changed significantly because the Solar System has many moving parts. Small variations in these moving parts cause vast change millions of year later.
Last year, in a study of sediments from a 90 million-year-old rock that captured the earth's climate cycles, Prof Meyers and his colleagues cracked the code on the chaotic solar system.
But the more they tried to look back in the rock record, the less reliable their conclusions became.
For instance, the moon is currently moving away from Earth at a rate of 3.82 cm per year but looking back in the years presents some serious problem. Beyond about 1.5 billion years ago, the moon would have been close enough that its gravitational interactions with the earth would have ripped the satellite apart.
Prof Meyers and his team were able to reliably assess from a layer of rock in the geologic record variations in the direction of the axis of rotation of Earth and the shape of its orbit. It allowed them to make more accurate choices than before.
They were also able to determine not only the length of a day back then but also the distance between the earth and the moon.
The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.