The earth's rotation rate is slowing down because of friction against the tidal bulges caused by the gravitation of the moon (major factor) and the sun (lesser factor). The earth's rotational energy is dissipated as heat, but where is the angular momentum going, and what physical mechanism brings that momentum there?
(In reply to re(2): I disagree - me too, with you
by Ken Haley)
"I'm not confusing energy with angular momentum. Both are conserved. The question is, what's happening to them? Let's go back to the egg. Compare spinning a raw egg and a hard-boiled egg. Try it if you never have. The hard-boiled egg will spin like a top for 20-30 seconds. But you can't get the raw egg to spin more than 5 or 6 rotations. (This is a classic way to tell if an egg is hard-boiled.) Why is this?"
However, the internal sloshing does not go on forever. Between the time that the egg was spinning and, say, one hour later, the angular momentum that the egg once had must have gone elsewhere than the egg. It's hard to imagine that it was transferred out of the egg after it had come to rest as a whole, so the internal eddies must have opposite, and cancelling--in regard to angular momentum, directions and therefore not account for the loss of angular momentum.
Posted by Charlie
on 2004-09-27 10:20:47