The earth’s rotation slows by about a second every 50,000 years. So just stay alive a while and you can enjoy longer days.

Unfortunately, the length of a year isn’t changing. As days get longer, there will be fewer of them in a year, meaning that you’ll have to do your taxes more often.

[Incidentally, lunar months are getting longer, meaning more time between full moons, but only werewolves, sailors, and poets really care about that.]

This knowledge about lengthening days has actually helped to date some fossils:

Apparently, coral produces annual rings and daily rings. If you add up the number of daily rings between annual rings, then you can figure out how many days were in that year.

They (yes, they) found some fossilized coral. The radioisotope dating showed that the coral was about 380 million years old.

Now, 380 million years ago, days were shorter, about 22 hours long. So there were more of them in a year.

Science is awesome. To find out whether the day really was 22 hours long when the coral lived, they just counted the rings (or made a grad student do it).

Turns out that there were 400 daily rings between each annual ring, which correlates to 21.9 hours a day.

21.9 is close enough to 22 to feel pretty good about it. I say again: Science is Awesome.

[Where are all the links to back up my claims? NOWHERE! Ha! But it’s all true. I read it recently in Why Evolution is True, by Jerry Coyne.]

When I first saw the headline, I read “humor” for “hours”. I suppose that says something about me. Then, reading the article, I find that it *does* help satisfy my appetite for humor!

So how long until the year is exactly 365? I get a little over a billion years. That’s a long time to wait, just to simplify the whole “leap year” mess. The coral bit implies my arithmetic is wildly off though, so maybe it won’t be so bad. How long until the lunar month is exactly 29 days? Maybe I can wait for *that*.

I’m excited about 400 days, even. So easy.

Yeah, people back then must have had a much simpler calendar. I bet the lunar cycle was exactly 20 days, so they had 5-day weeks (3 work days and a 2-day weekend!), and twenty months, all the same length. They probably didn’t have to fuss with “daylight savings”, either. Oh, the good ole days.