Saturday, June 20, 2015

50 Jaw-dropping facts about planet Earth.

1. The earth is about 4.53 billion years old.

2. The Earth orbits the sun at about 67,000 miles per hour.

3. That means when you or I are standing still, we’re actually moving at 1,000 miles per hour!

4. The earth’s rotation is gradually slowing at an imperceptible rate of 17 milliseconds per hundred years, which means that if human beings are still around in 140 million years, the length of each of their days will be 25 hours. 

5. It takes only 8 minutes and 20 seconds for sunlight to reach the earth, a rate that distinguished the speed of light.

6. Every planet in our solar system is named after a Greco-Roman mythological god except for ours. 

7. In fact, no one really knows who first named our planet “earth.” The name comes from the Old English word “eorthe” (ground) and Old High Germanic word “erda” (soil).

8. The deepest point on the earth is the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench, which lies on the ocean floor, 35,813 feet (bigger than Mount Everest) below sea level, or around 7 miles. Only three people have ever been there. 

9. The biggest mountain range on earth (that’s not underwater) is the Andes, which extends 4,300 miles, at 420 miles wide, through Argentina, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador.

10. But the longest mountain range of all is the mid ocean range system, which lies underwater and is about 20 times bigger than the Andes Mountains. Almost all of it is volcanic. 

11. The hottest place on earth is El Azizia, Libya, where NASA recorded temperatures of 136 degrees Fahrenheit. 

12. The place with the lowest consistent temperatures on earth is Antarctica, where it’s often minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

13. But the coldest temperature recorded on earth was at Vostok Station in northern Russia, where the thermostat fell to minus 128.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

14. 70% of the earth’s surface is covered with water. 

15. Yet mankind has only explored 5% of the Earth’s oceans. 

16. The Pacific Basin holds half of all water on earth, and is so big it could contain all seven continents. 

17. 97% of the water on earth is contained in the ocean, with the remaining 3% in lakes, rivers, and the fresh water supply.

18. And the Antarctic ice gap holds 70% of our total freshwater supply and 90% of all the ice on earth. 

19. But not all water is good water; there are actually three “deadly” lakes on earth, Lakes Nyos, Monoun and Kivu. Located in the African nation of Cameroon and then o the border between The Congo and Rawanda, respectively, these bodies of water lie above pockets of magma that leak dangerous levels of carbon dioxide that form carbonic acid, poisoning the water and killing any wildlife. Tragically, in 1986, Lake Nyos emitted a CO2 explosion that killed thousands of people and livestock in surrounding villages. 

20. The largest earthquake in recorded U.S. history occurred in Prince William Sound in Alaska in 2011, with a magnitude of 9.2 on the Richter Scale.

21. Of course scientific methods to measure earthquakes didn’t exist before around 1900, but the largest recorded earthquake in the world since then took place in Chile in 1960. 

22. The 9.5 magnitude quake left 2,000,000 people homeless in that country, and caused a tsunami so big that it slammed into Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, and the west coast of the U.S. simultaneously.

23. All of our planet’s earthquakes, volcanoes, and mountain ranges were formed by the movement (expansion or squeezing) of the tectonic plates.

24. Earth is the only planet in the entire Milky Way with tectonic plates.

25. Our earth’s surface is constantly moving, as the tectonic plates shift. However, they move at uneven rates. The Pacific plates move at 4cm per year but the North Atlantic plate moves at only 1cm every annually.

26. There are about 1,500 potentially active volcanoes around the world, spanning 80% of the surface of the globe. 500 or so of these have erupted in our recorded history.

27. The most active volcano on earth is the Stromboli Volcano in southern Italy, which has been erupting almost continuously for 2,000 years, earning it the nickname "Lighthouse of the Mediterranean.”

28. There are about 8.74 million species of animals and plans on earth. 

29. That includes 6,199 amphibian, 9,956 bird, 30,000 fish, and 950,000 insect species. 

30. Each year, about 10,000 new species are discovered.

31. The natural extinction rate for species is about 1-5 lost per year. However, we’re losing (or killing off) thousands or even tens of thousands of species every year, at an average rate of a dozen per day!

32. The Amazon rainforest contains one third of the Earth’s total land species.

33. Human beings really made no negative environmental impact on the world until the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, little more than 100 years ago. 

34. Since then, we’ve depleted resources, polluted our environment, and killed off species at a catastrophic rate.

35. We call our planet “the globe,” but it’s actually not round. The official shape of the earth is an obate spheroid, which means it’s spherical but somewhat flattened at the poles.

36. The largest living structures on earth are the ocean’s coral reefs, which are made of countless tiny living polyp organisms, hosting the highest density of life forms on the planet. You can actually see many coral reefs from outer space.

37. Aside from the reefs, the largest living organism ever discovered is a mushroom fungus found in Oregon that grew to 2,200 acres!

38. The oldest tree on earth is called Methuselah, a bristlecone pine tree in the White Mountains of California that is almost 5,000 years old. 

39. The biggest tree on earth is also located in California, this one in the Sequoia National Park. Named General Sherman, the massive tree is a giant sequoia that ‘s the largest tree in the world by volume, reaching 275 feet high with a 25-foot diameter.

40. But the tallest tree on earth is the Hyperion Tree, a coast redwood in Northern California that stands more than 379 feet tall.

41. About 200 million years ago, all of the earth’s continents were smashed together into a single landmass or supercontinent called Pangaea, though it gradually broke up and drifted apart as the plates shifted. 

42. Our planet’s magnetic north pole is creeping further north at a significant rate of about 10 miles every year.

43. The earth’s magnetic poles actually have reversed every 200,000 to 300,000 year throughout the last 20 million years. However, it currently hasn’t done so in about that twice that time.

44. The earth’s outer crust is composed mostly of lightweight granite. The crust that makes up the continents and landmasses is about 18 to 30 miles thick, while the denser basalt crust at the bottom of the oceans is only 5 to 6 miles thick.

45. The core of the earth is about 3,700 miles below the crust and is made up of solid iron-nickel allow. It’s no wonder that the earth has the greatest density of any planet we’ve been able to measure, at 5.52 grams per cubic centimeter. 

46. In fact, the planet’s largest source of heat other than the sun is the interior core, which emits one hundred billion billion calories of heat/energy to the surface every year. That’s so much heat that if we could find a way to harness it, it would provide enough energy for everyone on earth three times over.

47. Our moon isn’t just nice to look at; its mass actually stabilizes the Earth’s orbit and without it, the swings in temperature and climate would render our world uninhabitable.

48. Did you know that our Earth had a twin at “birth?” When it was first formed after the Big Bang, there was a second planet in our orbit about the size of Mars, called Theia. 

49. They coexisted in orbit for several hundred million years until they collided and the Earth absorbed most of the planet’s mass, helping to establish the perfect gravity to establish our atmosphere.

50. Every year, about 30,00 particles of space dust enter our planet’s atmosphere. Thankfully, most of them burn up upon entry, resulting in shooting stars instead of burning comets that smash our surface and cause giant craters. 


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