Forget Space–What About Beneath Our Feet?

posted in: Blog, Science | 0
Neutron Star Illustration (NASA, Chandra, Hubble, 02/23/11)

It didn’t make a huge splash in the press but apparently the Earth’s core has stopped rotating in one direction and may have reversed, spinning in the opposite direction.

Yes, let that all sink in. The Earth’s core? Spinning? Wha-a-a-a-t?

Don’t feel bad, I wasn’t aware of this either.

So, What Does This Mean?

Scientists use measurements from seismic waves from earthquakes to understand what lies below, but in my eyes, we aren’t capable of really understanding beyond theoretical expositions. We’d need to send probes down and return real hard data to confirm. You’re likely next to ask, “well haven’t we already?”

The answer is no. We’ve landed on Mars, sent space probes beyond our solar system, but have never penetrated into the core of the planet those other marvels were launched from. What we have done is drill a very deep hole–the Kola Deep borehole in the Russian Arctic–but that only reached 0.2 percent toward the center.

Measuring seismic waves appears to be the best method at hand to try and figure things out down there. Recent technologies have improved the results and we believe there are even enormous interior mountain ranges at about 410-miles down.

Why Should We Care?

I’ve put a great deal of thought into what would happen to humankind if the sun were to malfunction but never considered the potential fragility of our home world.

I’d prefer to understand any potential problems that could go wrong with our planet in the future, even if that future is a very long way off (just like we know someday the sun will go nova and we’d better not still be here when that happens). Everything seems solid enough until you learn the very center of our planet is spinning on its own. If that is possible, then how solid are we, really? Think about earthquakes, volcanoes…what if there were a “super event” that originated many miles deep and created a catastrophic impact?

I can’t end this article without mentioning the impact to our imaginations. There have been numerous stories written about entire worlds existing deep below, many of which I’ve read and enjoyed but until now put off as a “great yarn” instead of the actual science-fiction they are. Could there be mole people living below us who will one day rise up and invade the surface? Yes, there could. Dinosaurs–why not? Aliens living in a secret base while watching humankind for signs of maturity or danger to other worlds? Yes, these are all possible, because we haven’t proven otherwise.

These are my thoughts. What do you think? Please comment below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.