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Consider the possibility that The Earth Quit Turning

Nature

By energy consultantPublished 3 months ago 5 min read
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Earth flies around the sun at 110,000 kph, but what if it just... stopped? Well, for one thing, you'd have only a month to live. First of all, if Earth came to a sudden halt, you'd actually die instantly because you'd be flung off the planet and into space, much like how you lurch forward in a car when a driver slams on the brakes. However, if Earth slowed down more gradually, you'd instead experience a slower (but still horrific) demise. That's because the planet is about to get incredibly hot. The sun's massive gravity pulls Earth towards it. Meanwhile, the planet is trying to veer away in the opposite direction. This back-and-forth keeps us in orbit. But if Earth slows down and stops, the sun wins and drags us towards our destruction. In fact, a model from the University of Colorado shows us how long that dreadful journey would take. Just two months.

In the first week, you wouldn't notice much of a change. The average global temperature would rise by under 1 degree Celsius and hover around 16 degrees for another week. But, the closer we get, the stronger the sun's force and the faster we go. This causes the temperature to rise dramatically. By day 21, global temperatures will have soared to 35 degrees. That's hotter than a typical day in the Sahara. And with desert heat comes desert droughts, sparking wildfires and decimating crops. UV radiation from the sun is intense to the point that you'd get severe sunburn after only 15 minutes outside. By this point, our bodies will also have reached the maximum limit of their heat tolerance. Any hotter, and heatstroke can set in, leading to exhaustion, delirium, or even a coma. And guess what? It gets hotter.

By day 35, world temperatures will reach 48 degrees. That's as hot as an average summer day in Death Valley, one of the hottest places on Earth. Most mammals, birds, and insects perish as the proteins that make up their cells begin to cook. Even cockroaches can't survive this apocalypse. If we want to survive, we desperately need indoor cooling, stat. But, the amount of energy you need to run millions of AC units simultaneously would overload power grids all over the planet. Thus, with no way to keep cool, humanity perishes.

By day 41, Earth has passed by Venus. We're now the second planet from the sun, and temperatures have risen to 66 degrees. But believe it or not, some organisms still cling to life. Like Thermus aquaticus, a bacterium that lives in Yellowstone's hot springs. However, less than a week later, temperatures are hot enough to boil water and eradicate even that bacteria. By day 54, temperatures exceed 160 degrees, and the last vestige of life on Earth flickers out. Soon, the barren planet crosses Mercury's orbit. For its final week of existence, Earth is the closest planet to the sun. Until day 65. The last day.

By this point, the sun's extreme gravity stretches the planet into an oval shape, and magma begins to seep through the surface. At around noon, Earth ruptures, spewing liquid rock as temperatures hit 3,800 degrees. Our planet is no more.

What if the Earth suddenly ceased its rotation? Would the consequences be noticeable? Absolutely. Depending on your location, you could be flung off your feet and hurled across the planet at roughly 1,000 miles per hour. If, by some chance, you survived this event, what followed would resemble a nightmare. Giant storms, massive waves, and airborne debris would ensue. But the worst is yet to come.

We often take for granted the effects of Earth's rotation on our daily lives. It influences weather patterns, enables 24-hour days, and regulates the climate, allowing for comfortable survival on our planet. Earth began spinning around four and a half billion years ago, and it hasn't stopped since. This perpetual motion is due to the absence of friction in the vacuum of space that would otherwise slow down the Earth. However, the planet's spin is gradually decreasing. So, what if Earth suddenly came to a halt?

Instantaneous effects would be followed by a cascade of catastrophes in the minutes, hours, and days to come. If you were at the equator when Earth stopped spinning, you, along with everything around you, would continue moving at approximately 1,000 miles per hour. Avoiding being hurtled across the planet, you'd contend with incoming cars, animals, and unsecured objects flying towards you. However, Earth's gravity would prevent everything from being launched into space, instead causing them to careen eastward until friction slowed them down.

Conversely, if you were at the North or South Pole, you might not initially notice Earth's cessation of spin due to the zero angular momentum at these locations. Think of spinning a basketball on your finger; the finger at the "pole" doesn't move while the ball spins. However, elsewhere on the surface, movement would be in the direction of Earth's former rotation.

Consider a scenario where you and all flying debris come to a halt. Despite the chaos, you miraculously survive. Unfortunately, the worst is still ahead. Even if Earth ceased spinning, the atmosphere would continue its movement, resulting in massive global windstorms with speeds matching the previous rotational velocity. While wind speeds decrease away from the equator, they would remain lethal for most of the planet. Most structures, natural and man-made, wouldn't withstand winds of such intensity, causing unprecedented destruction.

Furthermore, without Earth's rotation, weather patterns would drastically change. The Coriolis effect, caused by Earth's spin, drives air currents responsible for weather phenomena like hurricanes. A non-spinning Earth would eliminate hurricanes but introduce other survival challenges.

Moreover, the sudden halt in Earth's rotation would cause water bodies to move, leading to tsunamis and colossal waves sweeping across continents. Geological consequences, such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions on an unprecedented scale, would wreak havoc, reshaping the planet's surface drastically.

Hours into the aftermath, the surviving few witness further bizarre occurrences. Drastic shifts in weather patterns render previously habitable areas inhospitable while making once harsh environments more temperate. Additionally, changes in ocean levels flood some regions while exposing others, reshaping Earth's geography.

In this new world, circadian rhythms and biological cycles crucial for life would be thrown into chaos. The absence of Earth's rotation would lead to extreme temperatures across the planet, with one side experiencing perpetual sunlight and scorching heat while the other endures perpetual darkness and freezing cold.

Despite the challenges, life might find a way to persist in certain extremophilic organisms or through nomadic human tribes following the twilight zone, where temperatures are moderate. However, the long-term survival of life on a non-spinning Earth remains uncertain.

In the distant future, Earth's spin will continue to slow down due to the gravitational pull of the Moon, eventually leading to longer days. While it's unlikely Earth's rotation will ever stop entirely, the eventual destruction of the planet, perhaps by the sun turning into a red giant, looms in the distant future, rendering such concerns moot.

ScienceNature
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