We carry out our everyday chores without a thought or sense of gratitude or thankfulness of what we possess. Probably the greatest thing anyone can possess is Life. We indeed owe a lot many things for this wonderful gift. And one of those many many things is this planet we like to exploit so much. The Earth is one of a kind. Till now, it is the only confirmed planet to sustain life form. Well, till now. There are many things that fascinate us about this majestic life-sustaining planet. These include some brain churning questions as well. For instance, do you know what will happen if the Earth stops spinning? Well, do you? Intriguing, isn’t it? Well, for starters, you will gain a lot of weight. But to be honest that would be the least of your concerns once you know the rest of the consequences. Let’s find out, shall we?
1. The Earth moves at a speed of 465 meters per second (m/s) and this, quite frankly, is a considerable amount of velocity. When the Earth stops and assuming it does so suddenly, the Law of Inertia will come into play (thank you Newton) and everything on it will be thrown eastward at the same velocity. In short, things along with animals and human beings alike will be made into tiny fragile bullets. But worry not, no one will be flung out into outer space if that makes you feel better. This is because the escape velocity required to leave the Earth’s atmosphere is 24,800 miles per hours (mph).
2. People in aircrafts will have a slightly better chance of surviving the catastrophe as the atmosphere will take a while before it reacts to the Earth’s stopping. Once it does, there will be massive storms and typhoons as a result of inertia. The winds that will be created due to this reaction will be so intense and fast that they would resemble those of a nuclear detonation. The mere friction created by these rapid fast winds will create heat of such magnitude that widespread fires will take place. Not to forget the damage and erosion that will occur to anything that actually manages to withstand the sudden 400 meters per second shift on the Earth’s surface. Oh, and if that doesn’t kill you, the supermassive tsunamis will take care of that.
3. The best chances of survival will be for those in outer space. The Astronauts will be safe because they are in space and the Earth’s inertia will not affect them in any way. However, they will only be heading home to a different and a rather barren planet with the entire population wiped out.
4. The 24 hour day span will stretch to 365 days now. And as the Earth is not rotating anymore, it will not have the strong magnetic fields that it used to have. This will make it vulnerable to the ionizing radiation directly.
5. Water bodies that were contained in their water basins due to the inertia provided by the Earth’s rotation will now start filling in the lands. Gradually water bodies will fill up land masses. Gradually the water will move towards the poles leaving the equatorial and a little bit of the temperate zones dry. We all know that the Earth in not a perfect sphere. It is a rocky and irregular structure. A key thing about the structure is that it is a little extended on the equators due to the rotation. Since it will not be rotating anymore, the equator will cease to extend outwards and eventually compress somewhat into a more spherical shape, and thus according to scientists, there is a possibility that water bodies will cover the lands again in a few years.
The answer is very simple and yet intricate. You see, the movement of the planet we are standing on is so gradual that our senses are not competent enough to feel the shift. Think of it as being inside a high sped vehicle which takes hours for taking a turn. Our bodies just simply do not recognize the shift in the movement. To be more precise, a vehicle that takes 6 hours and has to cover 6,000 miles to take a turn. Yes, those are Earth’s figures for making a turn to its right.
Earlier in the article, I mentioned that the sudden halt in the Earth’s rotation will make you weigh more. But did you wonder why? It is due to inertia. To understand this you need to understand the way the Earth’s gravity works. You see, the Earth’s total gravitational force is different from the Earth's centripetal force in our bodies. The centripetal force is be defined as the force of the Earth acting on our bodies in order to pull us towards the core.
Another thing you need to understand is that without the centripetal force acting on us, the inertia alone can make us fly out in outer space as the velocity of the Earth is not constant. The gradual shift in velocity would make us drift into the tangential trajectory we would be in. In case the Earth stops moving and you somehow survive the aftermath, you would weight 0.3 percent heavier than usual.
Sci-fi movies have been successful in establishing the fact that gravity affects times. Well, the same thing applies to Earth. What we measure as a second on Earth might not be a second in outer space. Even on Earth itself, a second is not always a constant. It keeps on changing. Scientists have defined a second as a duration of 9,192,631,770 oscillations of the radiation corresponding to the movement between the 2 hyperfine levels of the cesium 133 atom. The above statement can be depicted in the picture below.
This can be done by the use of atomic clocks. Atomic clocks basically count these revolutions and can detect the exact number of oscillations. This makes them by far the most accurate device to measure time. This also states that we cannot define time in the simple manner that we usually do if we were to count time in the most accurate way possible. Time is simply irregular because of the Earth’s constant spinning. And thus, a sudden halt in the rotation of Earth will also cause the time paradigm to shift.
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