What If We Move the Earth to a New Orbit

Okay listen up. I hate to break it to you, but the Earth’s
orbit isn’t a circle, but an oval-shaped ellipse. And the length of the day is actually not
24 but 23.93 hours. Precise enough for you? Ha. We, humans, take these facts for granted. But what if one day, we had to move the entire
planet to a completely new orbit and change the existing order? Before we figure out if there’s any way
to push our planet out of its orbit, let’s find out WHY we might need to do so! Here, I don’t want to sugarcoat it: our doomsday
is approaching. Even if the planet doesn’t get overheated
due to global warming, the sun will finish it off. You see, the sun, which is literally the sponsor
of life on Earth, is also our planet’s biggest enemy in a way. The star is getting hotter and hotter as the
centuries pass. And one day, about 5 billion years from now,
the sun will inevitably turn into a swollen red giant. Its bloated outer shell, consisting of gas,
will keep swelling up until it reaches its maximum size and brightness. And then, about 2 billion years later, the
sun will swallow the Earth. Okay so it’s not happening tomorrow. But people won’t be around to see it. Long before that, in about 1 billion years,
the sun will have already grown more than 11% brighter. It’ll make the average temperature on Earth
rise to at least 120 degrees F. You might think that such an increase won’t be critical
– like, come on, people are tougher than that! No more snow and puffer coats? We’ll deal with it! But, the situation would be much worse. Even this increase in temperature will lead
to the World Ocean getting dramatically warmer. The water will start to evaporate like it
does when you leave a pot of water in the sun. Animals and plants will have to adapt to the
hothouse that used to be our friendly and green planet. Unfortunately, with time, the sun will only
grow hotter, and soon, only random single-celled organisms will roam the surface of the planet. But not for long. Once all the water turns into vapor, the ultraviolet
light coming from the sun will break the water molecules. And the hydrogen, which is a crucial building
material for all kinds of living cells, will slowly but surely leak into space. What I mean is that if our descendants want
to stay alive, they’ll have to migrate to another planet or maybe even galaxy! But can you imagine what effort it would cost
them to relocate the population of the whole planet? Keep in mind that in 100 years, the Earth’s
population will have already reached at least 11 billion people! So, let’s see: first, people of the future
would have to build millions of space shuttles and make billions of shuttle launches. And it’d still take thousands of years to
deliver all the Earth’s inhabitants to their new home. Also, it’d take unimaginable amounts of
fuel – even if people flew no further than to another planet in the Solar System. And then, how about all the “settling down”
problems? Imagine having to change the new planet so
that it can satisfy human needs: all this hassle with water, oxygen, and food! Ugh! That’s why another option will likely come
into play: people will have to change the orbit of the planet before the disaster strikes
to avoid the tragic outcome! Theoretically, moving the Earth to a new orbit
is possible. But people must be very careful while doing
it. If something goes wrong, and the planet loses
its orbit completely, it’s likely to go astray and crash into the sun. That’s why new orbit calculations have to
be super precise: an orbit too close to our star – and we’ll get burned, a bit too far
– and we’ll be frozen. Scientists have even calculated that to keep
leading a comfortable life (or at least survive), people would have to change the orbit of the
planet so that it’s 9.5% further from the sun than it is now. In other words, Earth should be traveling
at 102 million miles away from our star, instead of the current 93 million miles. Anyway, people of the future decide to try
their luck and move the planet – which means moving almost 6 sextillions (and that’s 6
billion trillion) tons! At first, a mega-strong and long lasso may
seem to be the simplest solution. Our descendants think that maybe they’ll
be able to lay their hands on some stray asteroid, and it’ll pull Earth into a different orbit. But they come across several serious problems. For one thing, where can you find a material
strong enough to carry the weight of the whole planet? Besides, how can you be sure that this asteroid
will take you exactly where you need to get? (And as you remember, we need to move the
planet not to just any, but to a very particular orbit.) And finally, such a sudden pull might cause
chaos on the planet after its outer layer moves and sets off a series of devastating
tsunamis and earthquakes. That’s why, after considering the potentially
catastrophic consequences of this method, our descendants would decide to look for an
alternative. Maybe an effective way out would be moving
the planet out of its orbit with the help of a gigantic light sail? Light is supposed to be reflected from the
sun toward our planet and get caught by a solar sail placed somewhere on Earth. But once people calculate all the details,
they’ll find out that the reflective disk of the light sail would have to be more than
19 times bigger than the diameter of the planet! Otherwise, it would take more than 1 billion
years for Earth to change its orbit. So, most likely, our descendants would toss
this plan too. But then, someone will come up with the idea
of electric thrusters. The thing is that even nowadays, the Earth’s
orbit is already changed every time a rocket launches from the planet. When it takes off, it pushes the Earth in
the opposite direction. But of course, the effect is imperceptible. But what if people launched billions of rockets
at the same time? Well, it’d be hard to accomplish since they’d
need tons of different building materials and fuel, more than our planet could provide! But an electric thruster could become a cool
alternative, especially if we talk about ion drives! People have been using such drives on spaceships
since the 60s. They work by shooting out charged particles,
which makes the spacecraft move forward. These ion engines need much less maintenance
and are also way cheaper than the ones we’re used to. Also, they don’t have turbines, propellers,
or fuel pumps, so there are fewer things that can break down! But when ion drives were just invented, they
didn’t produce enough thrust to escape the Earth’s gravity. And the weight of the batteries that could
deal with this problem was just too great. That’s why spaceships couldn’t rely solely
on these engines. But centuries from now, people are likely
to either invent more powerful batteries or use some breakthrough technologies to power
the engines! Should it come true, our descendants could
point several massive electric thrusters in the necessary direction and press the start
button! The thrusters would float above the Earth’s
atmosphere, somewhere around an altitude of 600 miles. But they’d still be attached to the surface
of the planet so that they could move it in the right direction. Unfortunately, people would have to turn up
to 13% of the Earth’s mass into ions to transport the remaining bulk of the planet. But come to think of it, this method could
work out! And if people managed this unprecedented feat
and DID change the orbit of the planet as planned, there’d be some noticeable changes. For example, the sun would look a tiny bit
smaller, and its influence on the Earth’s tides would be a bit weaker. Our planet’s orbital speed would drop down
from 18.6 to 17.7 miles per second. And perhaps most importantly, should the length
of the day on our planet remain the same, the year would become longer – not 365 but
418 days! Bottom Line: your annual salary would stay
the same, but with the longer year, you’d get paid a lot less each week! Well forget that… Hey, if you learned something new today, then
give the video a like and share it with a friend! And here are some other videos I think you’ll
enjoy. Just click to the left or right, and stay
on the Bright Side of life!


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