Our planet Earth is estimated to be 4.543 billion years old while the modern form of humans evolved about 200,000 years ago. Civilization as we know it is only about 6,000 years old, and industrialization started in the earnest only in the 1800’s. Even though humans have made remarkable progress since our existence, we are still discovering and learning new things about planet Earth. And since we often forget how incredible our planet is, we have gathered some interesting facts that you never learned in school.
1. Gravity acts different in some parts of the planet.
For more than 4 decades, scientists have been trying to figure out an anomaly that causes large parts of Canada, particularly the Hudson Bay region, to be “missing” gravity. To simply put it, gravity in the Hudson Bay area and surrounding regions is lower than it is in other parts of the world. Thanks to modern technology and a pair of satellites known as GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment), scientists finally know why this happens. Since Earth is not a perfect circle, the difference in its mass causes fluctuations in gravity in different places on Earth. According to How Stuff Works, “At a basic level, gravity is proportional to mass. So, when when the mass of an area is somehow made smaller, gravity is made smaller.”
2. Earth’s heart is filled with gold.
It’s true that the Earth’s core is filled with gold, enough to cover the entire land surface of the planet with a 1.6 ft layer. According to ABC Science, professor Bernard Wood, a geologist from Macquarie University, in Sydney made his remarkable calculations based on research published in the issue of the journal Nature.
3. Australia is moving away so quickly that maps and GPS systems need to be updated regularly.
The tectonic plates on Earth are known to shift but Australia is moving so fast that maps and GPS systems need to be adjusted and calibrated once in a while. According to National Geographic, it moved almost 5 feet between 1994 and 2016. Scientists believe that in about 50 million years, Australia will be colliding with southeast Asia and in about 250 million years, the continents might all merge into a single super-continent again, like Pangaea.
4. There’s a river in the Peruvian Amazon where water temperatures are so high, it will cook anything that falls into the water.
When Geophysicist Andrés Ruzo was little, his grandmother used to tell him stories about a river that was boiling hot. Ruzo kept searching for this river, even though his professors told him that the stories are nothing but myths. After years of relentless searching, Ruzo finally discovered the river and in an interview with the National Geographic, he explained “it’s a non-volcanic, geothermal feature flowing at anomalously high rates.” This means that it’s just very hot water (getting up to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit) coming from very deep below the earth’s surface quickly enough that it doesn’t cool off before it comes out into the river.
5. Earth used to be purple.
According to scientist at the University of Maryland, life on Earth might have been just as purple as it is green today. The study suggests that ancient microbes might have used a molecule other than chlorophyll to harness the Sun’s rays. These molecules can give microbes a violet hue, therefore, all the planet may have been purple.
6. There is only one other planet in our galaxy that could be Earth-like, according to scientists.
Humans have been searching for other life forms in the universe as well as planets that humans can possibly inhabit in the future. So far, astronomers have discovered 4,422 exoplanets, but only a handful of them are considered to be potentially habitable. Studies however show that one planet, Kepler−442b, comes close to receiving enough sunshine to sustain a large biosphere. While there are many things we don’t know about this rocky planet, scientists do know that Kepler-442b is about twice the mass of the Earth and about 1,100 light years away. Using collective data, the Earth is assigned a habitability rating of 0.829 – slightly lower than that of Kepler-442b, which is rated 0.836.
According to NASA, if we travel at the speed of light, at about 671 million miles per hour, it would take us approximately 1,000 years to get to Kepler−442b. If we travel at the speed of Voyager 1, a space probe launched by NASA, and travel at 38 thousand miles per hour, it would take us 21 million years to get to Kepler−442b.
7. The moon could have been a part of the Earth.
According to the Fission Theory, the Moon could have been once part of the Earth and was somehow separated from the Earth early in the history of the solar system. The theory also states that the present Pacific Ocean basin is the most popular site for the part of the Earth from which the Moon came.
8. The Sahara desert plays a huge role in fertilizing the Amazonian soil.
Dust is capable of traveling far away and according to NASA’s Earth Observatory, hundreds of millions of tons of desert dust blow across the Atlantic Ocean from Africa every year. The sand from the Sahara is picked up by heavy winds and dropped at Earth’s largest rainforest, fertilizing the soil. The dust also plays a huge role in disrupting storms by suppressing cloud formations.
9. Mount Everest isn’t the Earth’s tallest mountain.
It’s true that Mount Everest is the tallest mountain above sea level but if we’re talking about the total height, base to summit, then the tallest mountain is Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii. Everest stands 29,035 feet above sea level. Mauna Kea only stands 13,796 feet above seal level, but the mountain extends about 19,700 feet below the Pacific Ocean; making the total height of Mauna Kea at about 33,500 feet.
10. The sun is bigger than you can even imagine.
The sun is approximately 91.573 million miles away from us and from that distance, it looks like a tiny spec in the sky. In reality however, the sun is so gigantic, a million duplicates of Earth could comfortably fit inside of it, according to NASA. The sun’s core releases powerful energy that would be devastating if we were closer but thanks to the distance, it’s enough to provide us with heat and light for life to thrive.
11. Earth’s core is as hot as the sun’s surface.
Really! The Earth’s core is as hot as the sun’s outer layer. Earth’s inner core is a hot, dense ball of (mostly) iron, about 9,392° F. The sun’s surface is 9,941°F while the sun’s core is about 27 million degrees F.
12. Clouds help regulate Earth’s temperature.
Clouds play a major role in regulating Earth’s temperature by acting as an “atmospheric blanket”. During the day, clouds reflect a portion of the solar energy that reaches Earth back into space. They also limit the cooling that occurs in a region at night as well as reflect heat back to Earth.