What a Wonderful World! 15 Absolutely Fascinating Facts About Earth
We may not think about our planet on a day-to-day basis, but the world we live in is a pretty interesting place. The third rock from the sun—and to this day, the only one with known intelligent life—there are plenty of facts about earth that we all learned from a young age. Still, there are even more fascinating facts most of us don't know.
1. Earth is not a perfect sphere.
Yes, we've all been taught that the Earth is not flat, but it may shock you to learn that it's not perfectly spherical either. As the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) points out, Earth spins while gravity pushes toward the center and a centrifugal force, perpendicular to Earth's axis, pushes out. This results in a bit of a tilted shape—not a perfect sphere.
2. The circumference of Earth is 24,901 miles.
That's 40,075 kilometers and here's how it works: According to Space.com, gravity is constantly pushing bodies of water and earth into a kind of “spare tire” shape (remember: not a perfect sphere).
3. Earth has an uneven gravitational field.
The surface of Earth is rocky and bumpy, so it can't have an even gravitational field. It would, however, if it was perfectly spherical. Instead, Earth has lots of gravity anomalies—both positive and negative.
4. Earth is a terrestrial planet.
It's also known as a telluric or rocky planet. A terrestrial planet simply refers to a planet that's mostly composed of silicate rocks or metals. Other terrestrial planets in the Solar System include Mercury, Venus, and Mars.
5. Melting glaciers have an impact on Earth's shape.
That “spare tire” around Earth—or as some experts call it, the “waistline”—may be a direct result of melting glaciers that are an impact of climate change.
6. The planet is constantly spinning.
It may be hard to wrap your brain around, but here on Earth, we're constantly spinning. According to Space.com, Earth spins as fast as 1,000 miles per hour but it depends where you're standing on the planet. At the equator, you'd be moving the fastest; at either the North or the South Pole, you would—surprisingly—not be moving at all.
7. Earth is about 4.54 billion years old.
That's a lot of birthdays! The National Center for Science Education has been able to determine this approximate age through dating rocks and meteorites that have been found here.
8. Earth's gravity is uneven, too.
Not a perfect sphere and not perfect gravity, either. Earth's uneven shape means that its mass is distributed unevenly as well, which means that the gravity has to be uneven to boot. Certain areas of Earth have gravitational anomalies—lower gravity than other regions. One such place is the Hudson Bay of Canada.
9. Earth's continents were once known as Rodinia.
We know—you've heard of Pangea; not Rodinia. But hear us out a sec—800 million years ago, the tectonic plates of Earth came all together, uniting each of the continents and it was called Rodinia. It eventually broke apart and re-collided, which resulted in the formation of the Appalachian Mountains in North America and the Ural Mountains in Russia and Kazakhstan.
10. Pangea came to be 250 million years ago.
After Rodinia, came Pangea. The separated continents came together again—this time called Pangea. In this version of Earth's continents, there was one universal ocean. After 50 million years of Pangea, it broke apart again, this time into two masses known as Gondwanaland and Laurasia. It broke apart a final time into the seven continents and oceans we recognize and learn about today.
11. The first-ever Earth Day was instituted in 1970.
Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day with the hopes of increasing public awareness of environmental concerns. The date April 22 was chosen to maximize students' involvement as it served as a mid-point between students' Spring Break and final exams of the year.
12. Asia is the largest continent.
Asia spans 1,7139,445 square miles and is home to some of the most densely populated countries in the world (China, India, and Indonesia—to name a few).
13. Sixty percent of Earth's population lives in Asia.
With more than 40 countries through the continent of Asia—some of which are the most populated countries of all—it's not hard to wrap your head around the fact that 60 percent of the world lives there.
14. The driest place on Earth sits adjacent to the biggest body of water.
The Atacama Desert in Chile is known as the driest place in the world, but despite it being dry-to-the-bone, the desert is actually right next to the biggest body of water on Earth—the Pacific Ocean. Though it's hot in the Atacama Desert, its temps average at about 63°F.
15. NASA actually studies the Atacama Desert for insights on other planets.
The Atacama Desert is one of the most extreme climates there is on Earth, so of course, it makes sense that NASA uses it as a tool, studying it to find further insight as to how life may be able to exist on other planets with such extreme climates. There are amazing Facts about Earth.