More Questions and Misconceptions about Earth
As promised last week, here's the second half of the articles about our home planet Earth. Earth is a fascinating place and we could have gone on for many more articles!
How Old is Earth?
While there is a small, misguided group of individuals who persist in believing that the Earth is only 5,000 years old: scientists know with reasonable proof that the Earth is in fact more than 4.6 billion years old. Our planet formed just after the Sun "turned on."
At any given time, how many lightning strikes occur worldwide every second?
There are about 1500 thunderstorms around the world at any one time. Collectively these produce about 6,000 lightning events, but most of those are from cloud to cloud and do not reach the ground. Of these 6,000 every second, only about 100 strike the ground.
How much gold does Earth contain?
Whether it's Bangladesh Takas, Chilean Pesos or American Dollars, they are all based on the value of gold. The entire planet contains about 193,000 metric tons (425 million pounds) of this glittering mineral.
All oceans have tides, but where are the highest tides?
To find the highest tides on the planet you'd have to take a trip to Minas Basin in the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. Here, there are monster tides of 38.4 feet (11.7 meters!) The reason for such high tides is that the bay is funnel shaped with a bottom that slopes upwards from the inlet. This creates an extreme tidal bore, a wave-like phenomenon at the leading edge of the changing tide. And these tidal bores are fast! They can travel up rivers at 8 mph (13 kph) and be three feet thick!
Glaciers are a polar phenomena.
Well when one thinks of glaciers one certainly does think of areas in the far north and south extremes. However, this statement isn't true! Mt. Cotopaxi in Equador is the only place on the equator that you can find glaciers.
Is it true that there is a plant which can live for over a thousand years?
In general, most plants live for either just one season or less than 30 years except for some species of trees and cactus which can live for a few hundred years. There is however one plant called the creosote bush, found in the Mohave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan deserts which has been radiocarbon dated to have been alive since the time of Christ! It is now thought that some of these plants may live up for 10,000 years.
What are the farthest north, east, south and west positions in the US?
The northernmost point should surprise no one, that being Point Barrow, Alaska.
The westernmost point also lies in Alaska, and is called West Point, located on Amatignak Island. South prize goes to the southernmost point of the Hawaiian Islands. Now for the easternmost point surprise. You likely would think some place in Maine but you're going totally in the wrong direction! Try Alaska, Pochnoi Point to be exact. How can Alaska hold the prize for north, east AND west? Get a map and look for Pochnoi Point on the Aleutian Islands. The tip of the Aleutian Islands lies on the other side of the 180-degree longitude line --- the International Dateline -- putting Pochnoi Point barely but officially in the Eastern Hemisphere.
Will Earth be here forever?
It is a comforting thought that Earth will be here forever but unfortunately that's the case (and a good case for space exploration!) Over the next billion years, our Sun will begin to swell, and will expand so large that Earth will be enveloped in the solar atmosphere. Any life on the planet then, will be vapourized. There is one mathematical calculation however that theorizes that the changing mass of the Sun may actually push Earth into a most distant orbit, but it is only theory. But by then, if we are still here, we will have likely moved to the stars.
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Kathy Miles, Author, and Chuck Peters, Systems Administrator
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