There's no question that Earth is an unbelievably beautiful and enigmatic planet with the unique capability to allow all kinds of life to flourish. Its secrets and complexities have baffled humans since we first began to ponder our existence and never ceases to amaze us to this day. Although Earth may be our home, there's still so much that we don't fully understand and plenty of mind-blowing intricacies that most people are unaware of. See what some of them are!
The Earth Isn't A Perfect Sphere
From accounts that we have from astronauts and Earth's pictures that we have seen from space, our planet appears to be a perfect circle. But this isn't the case.
Because Earth is spinning at an astounding rate of 1,000 miles per hour, this has forced the Earth into a semi-oblong shape instead of its assumed sphere. In fact, around the equator, toward the Earth's center, it actually bulges out slightly, which is hard to see with the naked eye.
Earth's Core Is As Hot As The Surface Of The Sun
Considering how hot the sun is and the drastic impact its heat has on our planet, it's mind-blowing to think that the Earth's core is around the same temperature as the sun's surface.
Both are approximately 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, with the Earth's core being closer to the surface than you may think. The distance to the core from the surface of the planet is shorter than Route 66 in the United States, which is a total of 2,448 miles.
Earth's Gravity Isn't The Same Across The Planet
Unbeknownst to many, the gravity on Earth isn't necessarily the same depending on where you are. Granted, the difference isn't anything comparable to Earth and the Moon, but there are minor changes. For example, you would weigh slightly more on the Earth's poles than the equator, which is caused because of the Earth's constant movement.
However, there are other anomalies such as the Hudson Bay in Canada, in which some areas are seemingly "missing" gravity. This is believed to be the result of convection currents from Earth's mantle or the Earth having a reaction to the pressure of ice that lessens when the ice melts away.
The Sun Will Eventually Lead To Earth's Demise
Our sun is a star, and because of its nature, it will eventually die like all other stars. When it runs out of hydrogen, it will collapse under its gravity, becoming a red giant that is 100 times bigger and 2,000 times brighter.
This will result in the vaporization of Earth, although this luckily won't happen for another 5 billion years. Ways for the human race to survive this would be to either recolonize on a distant planet or hope for a passing star to disrupt Earth's orbit away from the sun. The latter isn't necessarily preferable either.
The Longest Mountain Chain Is Underwater
The world's longest mountain range is an unbelievable 40,389 miles. If that wasn't impressive enough, what's even more fascinating is that around 90% of it is actually beneath the ocean. Known as the Mid-Ocean Ridge, this underwater mountain range was created by magma that was excreted from beneath the Earth, filling the gaps that opened up as Earth's plates shifted.
On average, the mountain range's depth averages 8,200 feet below the surface. The planet's longest mountain chain on land, on the other hand, is in the Andes, which is a mere 4,350 miles long.
There Are More Active Volcanoes Than You Might Think
Although volcanic eruptions may not seem to be reported all that often, there are estimated to be more than 1,500 active volcanoes on our planet, including six sleeping supervolcanoes. While it's hard to know the exact number of active volcanoes, experts have been able to conclude that around 1,500 of them have reputed in the last 10,000 years, with an unknown number beneath the ocean.
Furthermore, around 600 have erupted since recorded history, with approximately 50 to 60 each year. On top of that, six known supervolcanoes erupt on an average of every 100,000 years, with the one under Yellowstone National Park being long overdue.
The Largest Living Organism Is The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system globally, located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia. It combines over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands that stretch more than 1,400 miles of a 133,000-square-mile area.
Visible from outer space, it is the largest single structure made by a living organism and was selected as a World Heritage site, and is one of the seven wonders of the world, according to CNN. Unfortunately, the Great Barrier Reef is under threat and has lost more than half of its coral since 1985 due to pollution and other human activity.
The Planet's Rotation Is Slowing
While we are aware that Earth is in a constant rotation, providing us with seasons and a concept of time, its rotation is actually slowing down. Luckily, it's so small that it's almost impossible to tell because if it was significant, it would have catastrophic results.
Scientists chalk this up to tides interacting with the continent's shores that create frictions, and therefore a slight shift in the rotation. It's believed that the rotation has shortened a mere 6 hours in the last 2,740 years, or 1.78 milliseconds per day each century.
The Majority Of Earth's Water Is In One Place
While it's known to most that the Earth is made up so 70% percent water, giving way to its nickname the "Blue Marble," if asked, most people would say the majority of Earth's water lies in its oceans. However, this is incorrect, as it's housed in Antarctica.
This region of the world contains 90% of all the ice, meaning that it also holds about 70% of all water. In some of the densest places in Antarctica, ice measures almost 15,749-feet thick, so if it were to melt, the world's oceans would rise almost 200 feet.
It Hasn't Rained In The Driest Place On Earth In 2 Million Years
When considering the driest place on Earth, most people might imagine that it would be a desert surrounded by sand dunes, with a relentlessly powerful sun beating down on it. Incredibly, the driest area on the planet is actually located in Antarctica, in a region known as the Dry Valleys, which has had no rain in almost 2 million years.
Almost 3,000 square miles, the Dry Valleys has no precipitation and almost no snow, ice, or water. These valleys are exempt from rain due to the Katabatic winds from the mountains that are so heavy with moisture that gravity pulls them away from the valleys.
Our Timing Isn't Exactly Precise
Regardless that we base our concept of time around it, a day isn't actually exactly 24 hours. In reality, it's exactly 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4 seconds. So, we're actually getting robbed around 5 minutes of each day.
Furthermore, a year isn't really 365 days either. A full year is actually 365.2564 days long, which is why we have leap years because that extra amount adds up to an extra day every four years.
There's An Endless Inferno In The Karakum Desert
Located in Darvaza, Turkmenistan, the Darvaza gas crater is a natural gas field that collapsed into a cavern. To prevent the spread of methane gas, it's believed that Soviet geologists set it on fire, which has been continuously burning since 1971.
With a diameter of 226 feet and a depth of 98 feet, it had been nicknamed the "door to Hell" or "Gates of Hell." Since its discovery, the Turkmen government has hopes that it will become a popular tourist attraction for the area.
Few People Have Visited The Deepest And Highest Parts Of The World
Essentially, there are two extremes on Earth: the highest and the lowest places on our planet. However, only a lucky few have ever been able to visit these places in person. The deepest part of our planet part of the Mariana Trench called the Challenger Deep. It is an estimated 36,000 feet below the surface of the Western Pacific Ocean.
Only three people have been there, including movie director James Cameron. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the highest place on Earth, which is the peak of Mount Everest, in which more than 3,000 brave souls have managed to summit.
We Have Only Explored Around 5% Of The World's Oceans
Although we can clearly view the size of our planet's oceans from space, they are so profoundly deep, that it's estimated we have only explored around 5% of their depth. At the moment, much of the seafloor can't be measured because it's so deep that the water interferes with radio waves.
We can currently map the Earth's oceans with a resolution of up to three miles, meaning that we can make more accurate maps of the Moon, Mars, and Venus.
Earth Used To Be Purple
Shil DasDarma, a microbial geneticist at the University of Maryland, has proposed that the Earth may have once been as purple as it is green today. He claims that ancient microbes may have once used a molecule rather than chlorophyll to harness the sun's rays, which would have given off a purple hue rather than the green we know.
He further explains that chlorophyll only appeared after another light-sensitive molecule called retina was already here, which would have reflected a combination of red and violet light, producing the color purple.
The Poles Can Change Places
Earth's magnetic poles are constantly moving because of the magnetic fields that push against one another. Amazingly, this results in the north and south poles actually changing places every once in a while, meaning every hundred of thousands of years.
Experts have estimated that this takes placed between every 200,000 to 300,000 years. However, it has been near twice that amount of time since the poles have shifted. Luckily for us, a change wouldn't bring about doomsday, but it would certainly affect our compasses.
Earth Has More Than One Sattelite In Its Orbit
As most people are aware, our moon is visible in our sky with the naked eye, and we know a lot about it. However, two more asteroids are also in a co-orbital orbit with Earth.
They are called 3753 Cruithne and 2002 AA29, which are part of a larger population of asteroids known as Near-Earth Objects. 3753 Cruithne is 3 miles across and is sometimes called Earth's "second moon," and has a synchronized orbit with our planet. 2002 AA29 is 37 miles across and does a horseshoe orbit around the Earth.
The Calm Before The Storm Is Not Just An Expression
Although most people know the phrase "the calm before the storm," describing a period of peace before a significant event, it's actually based on science. An incoming storm draws in warm air from the surrounding atmosphere, and the air is carried into the storm cloud.
This removes the hot air and pushes it on the sides of the highest storm clouds. So, before the storm, when the air descends once again, it becomes warm and dry, covering the surrounding region. This causes people to experience what's referred to as a period of "the calm before the storm."
The Age Of The Earth Is Daunting
Researchers have calculated our planet's estimated age by studying the oldest rocks and meteorites ever discovered both above and below the Earth's crust. From their analysis, it has been agreed upon in the scientific community that the Earth is an astounding 4.54 billion (yes billion) years old.
The oldest rocks ever discovered, known as the Nuvvuagittuq Belt, is located on the Hudson Bay coast in Northern Quebec and dates back more than an estimated 4.28 billion years.
The Earth May Have Had Two Moons
While the concept of a planet having two moons isn't uncommon in science fiction or fantasy, it's possible that this was once a reality for Earth. It's believed that at one point, our planet had the presence of two moons, with the second moon being much smaller than our current one, only around 750 miles wide.
It's possible that it orbited Earth until there was a collision between the two, which would explain why the two sides of our moon are so different from each other.