A study by Durham University’s Physics Department in conjunction with the Royal Observatory in Greenwich has concluded recently that May 2021 was the longest month since records began.
Experts were baffled by this discovery, but after further research they concluded that the phenomenon, known in the scientific community as tempus groundhogus, was a consequence of 24-hour online exam format that the University used this year.
Experts speculate that the stress the students experienced, induced by the arduous exam format, influenced the gravitational pull between the Earth and the moon, causing the satellite to orbit slower than usual between 10th May and 4th July. This caused time to pass much slower than the usual 31 days in normal years.
Astronomists are in debate over the amount of time we gained over this period with month-extension estimates ranging from a relatively small 9 hours to a more startling 104 days. This would mean that May was more than three and a half times longer than a month experienced during a normal lunar cycle.
In a strange turn of events, many of those who believe the higher estimates are now advocating for leap years to be cancelled for the following centuries, in an attempt to ‘catch-up’.
Professor Z. Stardust of the Greenwich Institute said: “It would be irresponsible for us to allow our calendar to be so out of sync with the moon’s usual cycle. Tidal predictions and circalunar rhythms will be off. Not to mention the atrocious consequences for our coven and lycanthropic communities”.
Others take a different approach. When asked for comment the renowned physicist, Al Knighter, said “I see the extension of the month of May as an opportunity. An opportunity for us to understand the power of humanity when we come together collectively, Red-Bull-fuelled and bleary-eyed, in the early hours of the morning to complete tasks we should have done 12 hours ago”.
The tempus groundhogus phenomenon has been recorded before. Scientists estimate that the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic caused time to stretch by half a day. On a smaller scale, many people listening to Catfish and the Bottlemen albums reported that one song appeared to last as long as 40 minutes, but it turned out they just couldn’t distinguish between the tracks.
The phenomenon has also caused uproar at a local level. Employees have complained that they have been underpaid, having been paid their normal nine-to-five salary despite working (literal) longer hours for the month. Reports suggest that the UCU are once again threatening strike action, if pay is not resolved soon.
Furthermore, students have responded bewildered, having expected to have been significantly more productive during May, given the extra time the lunar slowing has afforded the world. However, many still found themselves catching up on lectures from Michaelmas term in the hours running up to their 24-hour open book exams.
“We feel cheated!” said a student, who wished to remain anonymous, standing outside the Billy B on their seventeenth coffee break in four hours.
Cartoon: Adeline Zhao