Is this year shorter than normal? 2021年比往年短嗎?

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科學家們發現,目前地球的自轉速度比過去50年來的任何時候都要快。專家們認為,2021年將會是幾十年來最短的一年。不過,我們是不是應該在這一年結束前爭分奪秒,抓緊時間?本期節目討論我們不需要為此驚慌的原因。

詞彙:time 時間

Time waits for no man』 – or so the saying goes. We can’t stop time and we can’t control it, although sometimes, in our minds, we think time flies – for example, when the weekend arrives, we feel it’s over in no time! But if this year in particular feels like it’s passing more quickly than others have done, there could be a scientific explanation why.

Of course, we know a year is usually 365 days long. Clever scientists calculated this a long time ago. They also worked out that every four years, we need an extra day to keep our calendar in sync – this is called a leap year. But 2021 isn’t one of those years, and yet it’s not behaving like a normal year. Scientists and astrophysicists have done the math and discovered the Earth is moving faster than it ever has in the last 50 years. This means that 2021 is going to be the shortest year in decades.

Apparently, this is because the Earth is spinning faster on its axis, quicker than it has done in decades, and the days are therefore shorter. But they are only short by a tiny amount – around 0.05 milliseconds – so don’t panic if you haven’t noticed! However, long-term these milliseconds add up. Astrophysicist Graham Jones and Konstantin Bikos from Time and Date told The Independent newspaper: 「If the Earth’s rotation continues to quicken, we may at some point require a negative leap second. If this happens, our clocks would skip a second in order to keep up with the hurrying Earth.」 Since 1972, 27 leap seconds have only been added to our time and none have been taken away.

This really is only of concern for atomic clocks – the most accurate timekeeping devices in history. Studying the Earth’s rotation and then subtracting or adding a leap second to these clocks can ensure they remain aligned and keep us on time. But now, maybe we need to get a move on before this 『shorter’ year is gone in a split second!

詞彙表

time waits for no man 時間不等人
time flies 光陰似箭,時光飛逝
in no time 很快,立刻
calculate 計算
in sync 同步的
leap year 閏年
do the math 進行計算
millisecond 毫秒
add up 積少成多
negative leap second 負閏秒
keep up with 跟上,不落後於…
hurrying 急忙(做某事)的,這裡指地球自轉速度快的
atomic clock 原子鐘
accurate 精準的,準確的
timekeeping 計時
aligned 校準的
on time 準時的
in a split second 在一剎那,在一瞬間

測驗與練習

1.  閱讀課文並回答問題。

1. Why do we have an extra day every four years, known as a 『leap year’?

2. How much shorter is 2021 calculated to be?

3. True or False? A leap second might have to be subtracted from time for the first time ever.

4. What are the most important devices for accurate timekeeping?

5. When was the last 『short’ year?

2.  選擇意思恰當的單字或詞組來完成下列句子。

1. I tried to _______ how much the holiday had cost me, but I kept losing count!

calculate                       align                              do the math               in sync

2. Late again! If you want to keep your job, you need to do something about your _______.

timekeeping                  timekeeper                    keeptime                   timeskeeping

3. The homemade cakes went _______ – I’ll have to bake some more!

in the split second        in a split seconds          at a split second        in a split second

4. I tripped up and cut my leg because I was _______ for the bus. 

aligned                         hurrying                          in sync                      time flies

5. We were having so much fun the _______, and before we knew it, it was time to go home.

time flies                       time flying                      time flew                   time flewed

答案 

1.  閱讀課文並回答問題。

1. Why do we have an extra day every four years, known as a 『leap year’?
We have an extra day in a leap year to keep our calendar in sync.

2.  How much shorter is 2021 calculated to be?
It’s expected to be shorter by around 0.05 milliseconds.

3. True or False? A leap second might have to be subtracted from time for the first time ever.
True. Since 1972, 27 leap seconds have only been added to our time and none have been taken away.

4. What are the most important devices for accurate timekeeping?
Atomic clocks are the most accurate timekeeping devices in history.

5. When was the last 『short’ year?
It’s not said, but Earth is moving faster than it ever has in the last 50 years. This means that 2021 is going to be the shortest year in decades.

2.  選擇意思恰當的單字或詞組來完成下列句子。

1. I tried to calculate how much the holiday had cost me, but I kept losing count!

2. Late again! If you want to keep your job, you need to do something about your timekeeping.

3. The homemade cakes went in a split second – I’ll have to bake some more!

4. I tripped up and cut my leg because I was hurrying for the bus.

5. We were having so much fun the time flew, and before we knew it, it was time to go home.