What If The Earth Stopped Turning?


Previously, I’ve talked about how quickly
the Earth is rotating, and I’ve talked about why it’s spinning. But what would happen if the Earth suddenly
stopped rotating? Keep in mind, this is totally impossible. Still, I find topics like this super interesting
to think about. If the Earth actually stopped rotating instantly,
it would be very *very* bad for everything on the surface of the planet. Consider this. If you’re standing on the equator,
you’re traveling at 465 meters/second from West to East. If the Earth put on the brakes, your momentum
would keep you flying at the same speed until *friction* slowed you down. Imagine the jumbled forests, oceans, buildings
and unfortunate animals after that event – it would be carnage. The atmosphere is also turning at 465 meters/second
with us. If everything suddenly stopped, it would be like a simultaneous hurricane of
epic proportions on almost every part of the planet. The closer you get to the poles, however,
the less damage it would cause. If you were standing on the North Pole, you’d
hardly feel it. Let’s imagine the Earth slowed down more gradually,
taking a few days to come to a halt that didn’t tear the landscape into fine mist of dirt,
seawater and a variety of organic material. The stars would hang fixed in the sky; only
the planets would move around, continuing their paths around the Sun. A day on Earth would now last 365 days. In
other words, it would take a full year for Earth to fully orbit the Sun, bringing it
back to the same location in the sky. Each year would include one long day, and then
one long night. You can imagine how that would be devastating to plants and animals. We get a hint of this at the poles, where
you can experience weeks of permanent night and then weeks of permanent day. But imagine
6 months of night, followed by 6 months of day. The planet’s tilt gives us our seasons. As
we define the Earth’s tilt as its rotation in relation to the Sun. A stationary planet
would effectively have no tilt at all. Without that tilt, there’d be no axis, and
no seasons. Although we would still have North and South poles. Because of its rotation, turning once every
day, the Earth is actually a flattened ball, or if you prefer, an oblate spheroid. Without that rotation the Earth would become
a perfect sphere. This sounds interesting and probably harmless, but it’s actually a
*big* problem. Because of the Earth’s bulge in the middle,
the oceans are held out at the equator by 8 km. On perfect sphere Earth, the world’s
oceans would redistribute, flooding many regions of the planet with an immense volume of water. We’d end up with a single continent around
the middle of the planet, with oceans surrounding the north and south poles. Let’s assume that if the Earth stopped turning,
the Earth’s core would stop rotating within it as well. This natural dynamo generates the magnetic
field that surrounds our planet and protects life from radiation from space. Whatever life still alive would be irradiated
from the Sun and cosmic rays if it didn’t live underground. So, if the Earth suddenly stopped turning,
it would be very bad, even catastrophically bad. Fortunately, it’s completely impossible for
this to happen. Thanks for watching.

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