Jeopardy! strikes a fairly unique balance in just about every episode. There’s the drama of wondering which contestant will win the day. However, that’s the least important part of the show. The real focus of the show is the balance between entertainment and education. You can tune in for half an hour and learn so much about a wide range of topics.
Jeopardy! carries this trend of being entertaining and informative on its social media as well. In celebration of the first day of spring, the quiz show’s official Instagram account shared an interesting fact about the season.
The Jeopardy! post says that spring is getting shorter by about one minute every year. This is due to changes in Earth’s orbit. The orbit is affected by the gravitational pull of other planets. This means that by 2081, spring will be a whole hour shorter. By the year 3461, spring will be a whole day shorter. If the slow erosion of the season continues, spring will completely cease to exist in about 131,040 years.
Digging Deeper on the Jeopardy! Post
Spring has been slowly getting shorter for thousands of years, according to Smithsonian Magazine. The season starts on the vernal equinox which happens when Earth’s tilted axis points neither toward nor away from the sun. This is due to what is called precession or, more simply, the slight wobble in Earth’s axis.
Did the Jeopardy! post make you wonder where that extra minute is going every year? Well, the simple answer is that it is being added to summer. The hottest season of the year kicks off when Earth’s axis is pointed toward the sun. This is called the summer solstice. Currently, Earth gets to that portion of its orbit a little faster every year.
Another interesting addition to the Jeopardy! post is that winter is also getting shorter every year. That is because Earth orbits the sun in an ellipse, or oval, pattern. Due to the gravitational pull of the sun, Earth moves faster when it is closer to the sun and slower when it is further away. This means that we’re moving fastest during winter and slowest during summer. This change in speed is why spring gets shorter and summer gets longer. On the other hand, fall is getting longer and winter is getting shorter.
While it would seem like Earth would be closer to the sun during summer, that’s not true. Earth is always furthest from the sun in July. It isn’t the distance from the sun that matters. Instead, it is where Earth’s axis is pointing that makes all the difference.
Don’t let the Jeopardy! post get you worried, though. Most people won’t notice the shortening of spring at all.