Our beloved planet Earth has been the center of some major controversies over time. With several celebrities hopping on the bandwagon recently kicked off by rapper B.O.B., we are back to debating whether Earth is actually flat or not. This is all the more hilarious as it’s been recently debunked that people didn’t actually think Earth was flat before Christopher Columbus sailed to Central America. He obviously wasn’t the first explorer to cross the ocean and return, confirming that he hadn’t fallen off the edge of the planet.
All of these confusions, debates, and theories only come to prove how little we actually know about our homeland. We do know some things, however, and we’ve incorporated them in a Top 10 Interesting Facts About Earth.
#1 For over two thousand years, ancient astronomers believed that Earth was the center of our solar system. Because of the way the setting of the Sun and the Moon was perceived, many thought that all the other planets and the blazing star orbited around Earth. The one to shatter this theory was Copernicus, who published in the 16th century a new model of the solar system which had the Sun in the middle. Ever since, we’ve been using this system and, needless to say, it turned out to be the correct one.
#2 Teach your kids some fun facts about Earth and get as a bonus some mythological figures’ names. Earth is the only planet in the Milky Way that was not named after one. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, and Uranus were all central deities worshiped by the Romans. The name of the Blue Planet was derived from the Old English word “ertha,” which meant land or grand. It literally meant earth, basically. That was a bizarre decision if you think about it. Given how much more significant the water proportion on Earth is, shouldn’t it have been called something more “water-ish?”
#3 If an alien civilization ever decides to pay the Milky Way a visit, they will likely find Earth to be one of the most underwhelming planets in the system – at first glance, at least. Aside from being the only planet that fosters life, Earth is also the planet with the biggest density in the Milky Way. Surely, the density of the core is much bigger than the crust, but the average manages to top even the colossal Jupiter’s.
#4 One of the most fun facts about the Earth that I’ve learned as a child was the reason behind the sea and ocean movements we know as tides. They are the result of the gravitational forces exerted between the Earth and the Moon. This is an important thing to consider because we realize just how big of an influence the Moon has on us maintaining balanced lives. In fact, the disappearance of the Moon (for one reason or another), would be a genuine catastrophe for our planet.
#5 Our days are on their way of getting longer. Earth’s rotation around its own axis is gradually slowing down, meaning that it will eventually end up completing the orbit in 25 hours instead of 24. However, this deceleration is taking place aggravatingly slowly (like most astral and planetary phenomenon, actually) – around 17 milliseconds once every century, to be exact. According to a simple calculation, it will take roughly 140 million years before Earth makes the leap from the 24-hour day to the 25 one.
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#6 Oxygen isn’t the predominant gas in Earth’s atmosphere. It might be essential to life support, but it actually makes up only a mere 21% of the atmosphere. Even though that might not seem like much, it’s the biggest proportion in our solar system. We owe this to plants, which release oxygen in exchange for carbon dioxide consumption during the photosynthesis process. The element that greedily occupies the most space is nitrogen, which composes the layer in a proportion of 78%. Other components of the atmosphere include traces of carbon dioxide (when it’s not eaten by trees), argon, and other gasses.
#7 Earth is a gigantic and non-living superhero. It protects us against the dangerous solar winds that sometimes clash with our planet through its incredibly powerful magnetic field. Scientists have concluded that the strength of the field is a result of a combination of the nickel-iron core of the planet and the rapid rotations around its axis. If it weren’t for this field, Earth would likely be ravaged by the terrible droughts, planetary storms, and general destruction that other less fortunate neighbor planets suffer from.
#8 Since I’ve previously mentioned how much more water there is than land, it specifically makes up a grand total of 70% of the Earth’s surface. This doesn’t only include oceans and seas, but other smaller masses of water such as lakes and rivers too. However, water hasn’t always been covering our planet’s surface. Millions of years ago, it was actually trapped inside the Earth, only having emerged because of the volcanic activity of the planet. We’re surely grateful that this happened since the first signs of life were developed in the oceans through a little something called abiogenesis.
#9 Earth hasn’t managed to elude violent contacts with other celestial objects. In fact, one episode resulted in the total annihilation of a whole dominant species – the dinosaurs. However, compared to other solid bodies in the system, there aren’t really signs of these incidents having happened. Earth’s surface doesn’t exhibit many impact craters, something due to the fact that the planet is geologically active and constantly reshapes its surface.
#10 Ever wondered what’s up with that whole “leap year” business from February? We all know that a year has 365 days, right? Well, not really. The Earth completes an orbit around the sun in 365 and a quarter of a day, actually. Instead of having a month with a day that only lasts one quarter of a day, we, therefore, simply decided to let them pile up and include a leap year once every four years.
Earth isn’t the biggest planet in the solar system. It’s not the smallest either. It’s not the hottest, nor the coldest. It’s not the first planet from the Sun, but it’s not exactly in Pluto’s place. Geologically speaking, it’s not exactly impressive either, as many scientists have pointed out. But despite its alleged averageness, Earth is definitely the most special planet of all because of one aspect alone. I was able to write this Top 10 Interesting Facts About Earth because it’s the only planet that sustains a multitude of living species.