Place of Refuge

Place of Refuge

03 March 2010

wobbles and cycles - perhaps even more like a roller coaster than we think

I woke up this morning to this story on the radio:

And I was amazed.  Just last night I had been contemplating the rotation of the earth, and its course through the sky, and here is this story telling me that the Chilean earthquake has caused a plate shift so massive that our earth is wobbling just a little bit differently.  And this will impact the length of our days.  What does that mean?
I was so eager to come home and write some high faluting theory out this particular earthquake, but before I did, I did a little research, and I discovered that every time there is a massive earthquake, the news covers this same story.  In a quick Google search, I found a 1976 article with the following title:   
Excitation of the Chandler wobble by large earthquakes

Yes, the wobble is called "Chandler's wobble," and it appears that it is essential for our survival.  We need the world to wobble.  If it stopped wobbling, there's a good chance it would stop rotating.  And then we're doomed.  In fact, we're more doomed if we stop wobbling then we would be if we had that rumored polar shift.  The earth has gone through those in the past, and survived.  It's just that nothing else on its surface did. 

This is actually a topic I intend to pick up in more detail sooner or later, but I just found this story this morning to be so exciting, and absolutely news to me.  I guess you can teach an old broad new tricks.

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