Astronomy · solar system

What if Earth misses a beat??

erIn Primary school, when Science teacher told us all about the Sun and the planets, it was really very hard to believe that Earth rotates and also revolves around the Sun with very  high speed and how is it even possible for us to not have slightest sense about this motion. I believe this might be the reaction of any student at that age. But it is true that Earth rotates about its own axis at a speed of 1670 km per hour at its equator every 23hr 56min 4sec. This is the reason we experience day and night cycle . The reason we cannot feel the motion of Earth is that Earth along with us, buildings, landscapes, atmosphere and everything else are moving with constant uniform speed.

It was not until 16th century that people accepted  Earth rotates and also  Sun is the center of  our solar system. Before that people believed Earth as the  center of Universe and everything else that is Sun, Moon, planets and stars revolved around Earth. Now everyone knows that this is not true and Earth does not have any special place in our Universe, it is just another planet revolving around its star just like million other planets. But what we all should appreciate is that Earth is significant and beautiful in its own way and after all it is the only home for us.

Have you ever wondered what would happen if the rotation of earth suddenly stopped.In our daily life we all might have experienced the effect of inertia when moving bus suddenly applies brake. When Earth suddenly stops rotating everything on earth, including us, buildings, vehicles etc will fly off into space. But in case if Earth’s rotation stops gradually over millions of years then the effect may be slightly different. We know that magnetic field is generated due to spin and hence if there is no rotation , magnetic field would disappear and we would lose our beautiful auroras and van allen radiation belt surrounding Earth.

Another effect is that one side of the Earth will always face towards  Sun and the other side away from Sun. This means half of the Earth will experience only day and other half only night.There may be chance of this happening because of the evidence that Earth’s rotation speed have been decreased over millions of years due to tidal acceleration caused by Moon’s gravity. The length of the day was about 21 hours at 600 Myr ago and the current value is 24 hours. Hence the speed of the Earth’s rotation may further decrease in future years and everything including Human’s daily life schedule may be completely different!

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