10 Interesting Things You Didn't Know About Earth
#1 You weigh less on the equator and more on the poles
The Earth isn’t a perfect sphere as the poles are slightly closer to Earth’s center than the equator. The pole’s nearer distance to the center of Earth means there is a slight increase in gravity as well.
The shift in gravity is enough to turn a person who weighs 100 pounds on the poles into a 99.65-pound person on the equator (a 5.5-ounce drop).
#2 We have multiple tiny moons
Yes, the moon we see every night is the only substantially large moon that orbits our planet, but that doesn’t make it the only rock to spin around Earth.
It’s common for asteroids that pass by Earth to be sucked in due to the planet’s gravitational pull, which causes the asteroids to orbit our world for a while before finally flying out of orbit once again.
#3 Lakes can explode
Limnic eruptions are exceedingly rare events where large amounts of carbon dioxide sitting on the lakebed erupt, forming a deadly gas cloud that will asphyxiate and kill any living organism in the area.
Rest easy, though, as these natural disasters are so rare that there have only been two documented occurrences of this happening. Both events took place in Cameroon at Lake Monoun in 1984 and Lake Nyos in 1986.
#4 Earth may have been purple
The Purple Earth hypothesis states that photosynthetic life forms such as grass and algae may have been retinal-based rather than chlorophyll-based, causing the Earth to appear purple rather than the green we know it to be.
A purple Earth would’ve existed roughly 2 billion years ago before The Great Oxidation Event, a time when Earth’s atmosphere experienced a substantial increase in the amount of oxygen it held.
#5 The first map of Earth was created in the 6th century BC
The Babylonian Map of the World is the oldest known map in human history, dating back to the 6th century BC. The map was drawn on a clay tablet and marked with text in Akkadian, a now-extinct language.
The map is centered around the ancient city of Babylon and the Euphrates River, where current-day Iraq resides. Other cities in Mesopotamia and bodies of water in the region can be seen on the map.
Much of the map’s text describes the creation of the world by the Babylonian God, Marduk, who they believed created the land and sea. Other texts describe various regions; for example, a description that is thought to have been written about the desert states it's a place where “a winged bird cannot safely complete its journey.”
#6 Earth is dusty
Comets zip by our planet all the time, and by doing so, they bring much cosmic dust into the atmosphere. By the year’s end, roughly 5200 tons of interplanetary dust will have fallen on Earth.
This may be a massive amount of weight, by luckily, it’s still tiny compared to the weight of the planet and has minimal effect on us.
#7 We truly are all alone
Earth is nearly 93 million miles from the sun. To put that into perspective, if you drove at 50 miles per hour, it would take over 210 years of driving continuously to reach the sun finally.
If we were to scale down the distance to the sun to just a single inch, the next closest star, Alpha Centauri, would be 4.4 miles away. That same drive to the sun would take nearly 60 million years.
Beyond Alpha Centauri, our next closest star, Sirius, would take 115 million years of driving, and our third nearest star, Vega, would take 335 million years of driving.
#8 Clouds regulate the temperature of Earth’s surface
Clouds do a great job at blocking out the amount of sunlight that hits the surface. If all clouds disappeared, the global temperature would rise 13 degrees Fahrenheit. That would be a greater temperature swing than the Ice Age, which only saw a 10 degree Fahrenheit decrease.
Tapio Schneider, professor at the California University of Technology, states, “how much global warming we get crucially depends on whether we get more or fewer clouds.”
#9 There are more viruses on Earth than stars in the Universe
There are currently an estimated 10 nonillion (10 to the 31st power) viruses on Earth. Viruses exist all over the world: on the land, in the water, and even in the air around us.
Katherine J. Wu, a science writer for The Atlantic, states that the number of viruses on Earth is “enough to assign one to every star in the universe 100 million times over.”
#10 Nobody knows who named Earth
The name Earth originated around the eighth century and is derived from the Old English and German terms ‘ertha’ and ‘erde,’ which both meant ground, but the person who gave Earth its name has been long forgotten.
Earth is the only planet not named after a Greek or Roman god, which makes its name extra peculiar.