Is Earth's orbit around the sun is slowing down? Yes, according to a Jan. 1, 2004 article in CNN.COM's Science & Space section (http://www.cnn.com/2004/TECH/science....ap/index.html).
The CNN article's headline refers to the slowing down of Earth's rate of spin which we've compensated for since 1972 by adding a leap second at the end of each year. But strangely enough, since 1999, the earth's rotational spin has not slowed as scientists expected, leaving them quite confused. Interesting.
But later, the CNN article states "the Earth's orbit around the sun has been gradually slowing for millennia". I'm no astronomer, but I think this is probably a mistake. People always seem to confuse the rotation of the earth with its revolutions around the sun.
But now I wonder: is it possible for earth's orbit to slow or speed up? If so, what could cause it? Throughout its existence, has the earth's orbital speed ever changed?
If the earth's orbital speed was somehow slowed down, I presume the sun's gravity would gradually pull the earth closer and closer to the sun until we burned up. But if the opposite happened and the earth's orbit was speeded up, would we eventually drift off into space in increasingly larger orbits? Or would the earth find a new permanant orbit that was compatible with its new speed?