This is some fragile ball of mud we’re riding.
NASA scientists say the Chilean earthquake shortened Earth’s day and shifted the globe’s axis.
Not to worry, they add — the effects were measured in microseconds and centimeters. I wasn’t a physics major, but even I know this doesn’t mean the planet is going to spin out of its orbit. So, I’ve been asking myself why I’m so intrigued, if this was an all but meaningless planetary hiccup.
Forget the science lesson. Really, it’s a visceral reminder that nothing is permanent. It’s one of those jolts that momentarily broadens your outlook to a cosmic level, that shows the vulnerability of the world’s existence, including your individual fly-speck part of it. The everyday worries of jobs, the economy, wars, terrorism, crime, disease, and whatever are plenty enough reasons already to keep you feeling mortal. Now comes evidence that even the enduring Earth itself can suffer a kick in the teeth.
Somehow, the unplanned global clock change and axis adjustment is way more real than the distant threat of a comet or asteroid someday doing a corner-pocket pool shot to the planet. This quake-speedbump thing actually happened, like an event in a science fiction script come to life. I almost expect a towering otherworldly presence to boom through the windows, “Insignificant mortals, cower before me.”
I know my days are getting shorter anyway, but this is ridiculous.