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Below are some facts about earth, the wonderful rock hurling through the cosmos that we call home. The Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only planet in our Solar System, heck in our Universe, that we know of, that harbors what we call life. Formed over 4.6 billion years ago, from clumps of dust and particles, the Earth orbits in the so called Goldilocks zone (also known as the habitable zone or life zone).
The Goldilocks zone is a very small orbital region around a star. This zone is not too hot, not too cold, but just right to where habitable life can as we know it can exist. One key component is the existence of liquid water. On Venus, the water evaporates, whereas on Mars the water is frozen in ice. As astronomers look for other planets that could host life, they look for planets in the Goldilocks zone of their respective stars.
1. The Earth is not a sphere
Before you start to roll your eyes and think I believe the Earth is flat, all I’m saying here is that the Earth is not a perfect sphere. It turns out our planet is starting to get love handles. Scientifically speaking, our planet has an equatorial bulge. While this only extends roughly 26 miles (42 km) wider at the equator than at the poles, this means the Earth is more of an oval rather than a perfect circle. This is really just fat shaming, if you shrunk the Earth down to a diameter of 1 meter (3.28 feet), the difference at its equator would only be 3 millimeters (0.12 inches).
2. You are moving a lot faster than you think
You might be eating some Cheetos and sitting back on the couch reading this, but you’re moving quite fast. At the equator the Earth spins at ~25,000 miles (~40,075 km) per second! Next time someone tells you they’re lazy, just slap them in the face with that knowledge.
3. The Earth’s poles are going to flip flop
If you’re one of the unfortunate souls to have seen the movie, “The Core”, you might think the world is going to end! Yeah this isn’t the case. Turns out that Earth’s magnetic poles flip quite frequently (every 200,000 to 300,000 years).
The magnetic field around the Earth is generated by the core of our planet. The constant churning of liquid elements creates electric currents, which in turn generate a magnetic field around our planet. Scientific models suggest that new fields are frequently added due to this churning motion. These new fields generally line up N to S with the existing field, but once in a while they line up in the opposite direction. These “instabilities” are temporary, but on rare occasions, the reversed field gets bigger and takes over the entire core, shifting the magnetic poles.
4. A day on Earth is not 24 hours
Ever think 24 hours in a day isn’t enough? Well, I’m about to make it worse… A day, or the time it takes the Earth to make one rotation, is actually 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4.09 seconds. This is completely based on its rotation and is called a Sidereal day. Damn Illuminati trying to control time!
The 24 hours we’ve come to know and love is a solar day. The orbit of the Earth around the Sun is elliptical rather than circular, which means that the 24 hours is the average time between successive passes of the Sun over a meridian (line of longitude). Current average solar days are 24.0000006 hours long or 365.24 days, which result in leap years to make up the time.
5. Earth absorbed its twin planet!
After analysis of rocks from the Apollo missions, researchers from UCLA hypothesize that Earth had a twinish planet named Theia that collided with Earth. This resulted in the release of lots of debris which resulted in the formation of our moon. This hypothesis suggests that the combination of the two planet’s core explains why the core of the Earth is bigger than most planets of its size. This theory is called the giant-impact hypothesis.
6. We have oceans?
Seventy one percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. Furthermore, the five great oceans that cover our globe,hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth’s water. Despite the essential role oceans play in our daily lives, from the air we breathe to the global climate, we have only explored 5% of them.
7. The rotation of the Earth is starting to slow down
Looking backwards, scientists hypothesize that the length of an average day on Earth ~1.4 billion years ago was only 18 hours, in comparison to our 24. This elongation of the day will evidently continue as the Earth grows older. The culprit… our moon! The rock upon which Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first stepped, moves away from us ~1.5 inches (3.8 cm) each year. 1.4 billion years ago, the moon was much closer to the planet and resulted in a faster Earthy rotation. Over an extremely long period of time as the moon moves further away, our days on Earth will start to be longer.
8. Mount Everest is not the highest point on Earth
WTF mate! If you look at the distance from the center of the Earth to a mountain’s summit, Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador in further from the center than Mount Everest.
Not to steal more thunder from Mount Everest, it’s also not the tallest mountain on Earth. That honor belong Mauna Kea on the big island in Hawaii. This volcano from it’s base underwater to the peak is 33,500 ft (10,210 m). Mount Everest when measured from sea level tops out at 29,029 ft (8,848 m). The info graphic from NOAA highlights these points really well. Mind blown right?
9. Light takes it’s sweet time getting to us
Because of the 92,955,807 miles (149,597,870 km) gap between the Earth and our Sun, light takes 8 minutes and 19 seconds to reach us. Being the fastest object in the universe and the speed limit of the cosmos, light travels at 186000 miles (300000 km) per second. This means, if the Sun were to disappear or explode RIGHT MEOW, we wouldn’t know about it for 8 minutes and 19 seconds. Technically… that means are always looking back in time when we look up at the sky :).
10. The deepest point on the Earth is in the Mariana Trench
I have to add an asterisks here, as the deepest natural point on the Earth is located in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. Coming in at 35,853 ft (10,928 m), the Challenger Deep is a drop located on the southern side of the Mariana Trench.
The deepest man-made point on Earth is the Z-44 Chayvo Oil Well. Dug on Russia’s eastern coast, this monster has a depth of 40,604 ft (12,376 m). Crazy comparison here: commercial planes fly between 30,000 and 38,000 feet (9,144 and 11,582 m) above the surface of the Earth. The things we do for black gold!