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Bob Berman's strange universe: Good planets gone bad

May 2005: After last fall's lunar column ("Glass half empty?" November 2004), I got letters asking why the Moon will be destroyed someday after coming too close to Earth. Good question, and it brings up a new topic: What other weird things will befall our poor planet in the eons to come?
After last fall's lunar column ("Glass half empty?" November 2004), I got letters asking why the Moon will be destroyed someday after coming too close to Earth. Good question, and it brings up a new topic: What other weird things will befall our poor planet in the eons to come?

First the Moon. All future strangeness happens because Earth's tidal bulge doesn't sit precisely under the Moon. Our rapid spin pushes the ocean's yard-high surge ahead of the Earth-Moon line. So, the Moon actually pulls backward on this bulge, slowing the Earth's rotation gradually. Earth's day lengthens by 1¼500 of a second per century.

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