What Would Happen If The Moon Disappeared?
The moon. It's always just... up there. But what would happen if it suddenly disappeared? Imagine some big honkin' celestial mass obliterated it to smithereens, or aliens decided to blow it up just because they could (aliens are probably assholes).
Could Earth survive without its crater-faced little brother? It's not a totally preposterous scenario to consider, especially since it actually is moving away from us at a rate of nearly four centimeters every year. Here are six ways our lives might be different in a moonless world.
1. We'd be more vulnerable to asteroidsFirst of all, if the moon were destroyed violently enough for it to break apart, we'd likely experience a pretty violent moon rock storm down here on Earth. Plus, ever wonder how the moon got all those huge craters? It's a veritable punching bag for big ol' asteroids, stopping some that might otherwise make their way down here. Without a protector, we'd be in the line of fire for more asteroids than we are now, which as any dinosaur will tell you, could be very, very bad.
2. The tides would completely stopWith the gravitational pull of the moon missing, tides as we know them would be over. There would still be waves (since the sun also slightly affects the movement of the ocean), but the churning currents as we know them would diminish. That would have a devastating effect on swaths of sea life—which rely on particular paths of nutrients for survival—and ultimately lead to the mass extinction of species.
3. Earth could have a nervous breakdownDue to the loss of the gravitational pull, or the "flexing" that Earth's grown accustomed to for the last 4.5 billion years, the core of the planet might feel some awkward shifting. That could set off any number of very, very bad things like earthquakes or volcanoes.
4. The climate would go haywireMany scientists believe that Earth's current tilt is a byproduct of the huge collision that produced the moon millions of years ago, and is only held stable by its continued orbiting around our pale blue dot. So, without a moon, the Earth's axis could dangerously shift. That could activate a litany of scary scenarios, including a wild change in seasons and climate, potentially rendering huge portions—if not all—of the planet uninhabitable for parts of the year.
5. Days would be shorterThe Earth would actually spin a little faster without the moon. That's because the gravitational pull responsible for controlling the ocean tides also causes what is known as "tidal friction," which drags down the speed of the Earth’s rotation and is the reason our days have been growing longer over time. With the bulge of the tides gone, we'd be spinning ever so slightly faster, meaning days would be shorter and our current calendars and clocks would wind up out of sync.
6. The night sky would be one a hell of a spectacleIf you thought stargazing was awesome now, imagine how much better it would be without a big white light interfering with your view.
Joe McGauley is a senior editor at Supercompressor and would totally live in a moon colony, as long as there's pizza.
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