Even though we cannot see, feel, hear, or touch it, Earth continues to spin like a top. What would happen if Earth suddenly stopped rotating?
If the spinning stopped, the angular momentum from all objects on Earth would cause the surface to crumble, leading to a very, very bad day.
James Zimbelman (senior geologist emeritus at Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.) said that "this is just a thought experiment." "There is no natural force which would stop the Earth spinning." This is why the planet has been spinning ever since its formation, which is quite impressive.
Related: How fast does Earth move?
Give it a spin
Earth completes one rotation on its axis once every 23 hours 56 minutes and 4.090553 seconds. According to Zimbelman, this means that land at the Equator moves at approximately 1,100 mph (1.770 km/h). Rotational velocity decreases to zero at the poles. The planet would continue to move at the speed of 1,100mph even if it were to stop abruptly. The movement would cause a scavenging of the surface, tearing it apart, and sending fragments into the upper regions and outer space.
But what exactly is angular momentum?
Let's go back. Linear momentum is the sum of an object's weight and velocity (direction, speed). Linear momentum allows a passenger to continue moving forward in a moving vehicle that has stopped abruptly. Ouch.
Anangular momentum is a rotational analog of linear momentum. It is the sum of the moment-of-inertia (the rotational force required to rotate mass) as well as angular velocity. The quarterback gives angular momentum to the football by transferring its weight through the air towards the wide receiver.
Zimbelman explained to Live Science that one of the fundamentals in physics is the conservation angular momentum. To stop something spinning, you must exert the same force in the opposite direction.
However, all is not lost if the Earth stopped spinning.
Regroup, reform, and accrete
Zimbelman said that the pieces and fragments that fell off the surface would be re-tuned as Earth and its remaining parts continued their orbit around the sun. The planet's gravitational pull would eventually draw the halo effect of fragments back with an unanticipated effect.
Zimbelman stated that "What Isaac Newton helped us to understand with classical mechanics was that the pieces accumulating, moving closer together, would release some energy, heating things up."
It is like a meteorite streaking across a sky. The planet's gravitational pull would draw the remnants to the surface, where they would then release energy. Zimbelman stated that the constant bombardment with these pieces and bits would liquefy crust into a molten ocean of rock. Through accretion, the colliding pieces would eventually be absorbed into the molten ocean.
Zimbelman claims that the fast and destructive transition would also evaporate most of the planet's water. Some of the vaporized water might be lost, but some could be used to make new solidified minerals like olivine. Not all fragments would be absorbed by accretion. Some of the planet bits would be carried away by the moon's gravitational force, bombarding its satellite nearby and creating many more craters on its surface.
Original publication on Live Science