My first contact with Phil’s work on Bad Astronomy was after listening to him in Skepticality, but I only started to follow his blog recently.
The following linked post is from his series of “Ten things you don’t know about…” posts, this one bringing forth a lot of information I was not aware about our planet. And I thought I was well read into the subject.
Phil Plait, the creator of Bad Astronomy, is an astronomer, lecturer, and author. After ten years working on Hubble Space Telescope and six more working on astronomy education, he struck out on his own as a writer. He has written two books, dozens of magazine articles, and 12 bazillion blog articles. He is a skeptic, and fights misuses of science as well as praising the wonder of real science.
Click it to read the full post, but here I my favorite sections from it:
If the Earth were infinitely elastic, then it would respond freely to all these different forces, and take on a weird, distorted shape called a geoid. For example, if the Earth’s surface were completely deluged with water (give it a few decades) then the surface shape would be a geoid. But the continents are not infinitely ductile, so the Earth’s surface is only approximately a geoid. It’s pretty close, though.
And I never realized that digging a hole through Taiwan would take us to Paraguay (Mapping Tool).
But what if you did dig a hole through the Earth and jump in? What would happen?
Well, you’d die (see below). But if you had some magic material coating the walls of your 13,000 km deep well, you’d have quite a trip. You’d accelerate all the way down to the center, taking about 20 minutes to get there. Then, when you passed the center, you’d start falling up for another 20 minutes, slowing the whole way. You’d just reach the surface, then you’d fall again. Assuming you evacuated the air and compensated for Coriolis forces, you’d repeat the trip over and over again, much to your enjoyment and/or terror. Actually, this would go on forever, with you bouncing up and down. I hope you remember to pack a lunch.
And as my lamest comment from the post, what would Sailor Moon think about:
The Earth has at least five natural moons. But not really.
Most people think the Earth has one natural moon, which is why we call it the Moon. These people are right. But there are four other objects — at least — that stick near the Earth in the solar system. They’re not really moons, but they’re cool.