-->
Home Store Project Ideas Project Guide Ask An Expert Blog Careers Teachers Parents Students

The "Tilt" of Time

We know the immediate and visible devastation earthquakes can cause, and last month, after the earthquake in Haiti, we posted a set of projects that offer good background material and talking points for discussion of earthquakes and plate tectonics. What students may not realize is that the impact of a big shake does more than cause structural damage.

In fact, an earthquake can alter the tilt of the Earth to such a degree that the length of time in a "day" changes. The change is very small—we are talking seconds broken into millions—so small that our timekeeping methods of hours and days isn't effected. It is still fascinating to realize, however, that earthquakes can alter the tilt of the planet and that the amount of seconds in a day is not absolute.

Science Daily reported this week that research suggests that the February 27, 8.8 earthquake in Chili may have shifted the Earth's axis and shortened the day. With a projected change in axis of "2.7 milliarcseconds (about 8 centimeters, or 3 inches)," scientists have determined that the earthquake may have "shortened the length of an Earth day by about 1.26 microseconds (a microsecond is one millionth of a second)."

The following project ideas can help students talk about and visualize the importance of the degree of "tilt" of the Earth by examining the change of "seasons" on Earth:


Science Buddies Science Activities

Science Buddies Summer Science Roundup


thumbnail
School and family science weekly spotlight: experiment with tonic water and a black light to learn more about fluorescence and light energy!

thumbnail
Are you a picky eater? Maybe there is a scientific reason for your reluctance to eat certain foods even if you know they are good for you. Find out with a tongue-dyeing taste-testing science project!

thumbnail
Catch the annual Perseids meteor shower and tie in some fun family astronomy science with an exploration of parallax. How far away are the things we see in the sky?

thumbnail
School and family science weekly spotlight: make a solar oven from household and recycled materials.

thumbnail
With different kinds of dried beans, plastic cups, and water, kids can model rocks and observe the way different sized particles in rocks affect how much water a rock can hold.

thumbnail
Students can experiment with the engineering design process by trying to improve the durability of a simple handheld device.



Your Science!
What will you explore for your science project this year? What is your favorite classroom science activity? Email us a short (one to three sentences) summary of your science project or teaching tip. You might end up featured in an upcoming Science Buddies newsletter!



You may print and distribute up to 200 copies of this document annually, at no charge, for personal and classroom educational use. When printing this document, you may NOT modify it in any way. For any other use, please contact Science Buddies.