-->
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 and Autodesk for Student STEM Exploration


thumbnail
Environmental conservation and energy science collide in a proposed solar power project that promises greener energy but threatens to disrupt a major migratory path for birds. Students explore with big data science.

thumbnail
Think baseball is all about runs, outs, balls, and strikes? What about physics, biomechanics, and statistics? Explore the science of baseball!

thumbnail
We go DIY with molecular gastronomy and family science as we make our own popping boba using the Spherification Kit from the Science Buddies Store.

thumbnail
The current Ebola crisis in West Africa has already topped charts for all Ebola outbreaks in history. Medical biotechnology science projects let students gets hands-on with projects that parallel real-world research and development.

thumbnail
An unusual caterpillar brings lots of "eeeews!" and one contribution to a citizen science project. Discover how anyone can collaborate on serious scientific research.

thumbnail
UC Berkeley Professor Dan Garcia talks about the kind of "drag-and-drop," block-based, snap-together programming environments that are becoming increasingly popular as a way to introduce students of all ages to code.



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.