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What Would Happen If The Earth & All Other Terrestrial Objects Suddenly Stop Spinning?

This series is entirely based on Randall Munroe's book, What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions.

Randall Munroe left NASA in 2005 to start up his hugely popular site XKCD 'a web comic of romance, sarcasm, math and language' which offers a witty take on the world of science and geeks. It now has 600,000 to a million page hits daily. Every now and then, Munroe would get emails asking him to arbitrate a science debate. 'My friend and I were arguing about what would happen if a bullet got struck by lightning, and we agreed that you should resolve it . . . ' He liked these questions so much that he started up What If.

What Would Happen If The Earth & All Other Terrestrial Objects Suddenly Stop Spinning?

What Would Happen If The Earth & All Other Terrestrial Objects Suddenly Stop Spinning?

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No one would survive.

No one would survive.

The surface of the earth moves at about 470 meters per seconds - apropos to axis. If earth ceases and air didn't, there would be a sudden turbulence in the winds, which may result in mayhem.

The wind would be boisterous at the equator. People living between 42 degrees North & 42 degrees South - which includes 85% of the world population would suddenly experience supersonic winds.

The turbulent winds would last ephemerally for a few minutes near the surface; friction would slow them down. However, these few minutes are enough to turn everything into debris. From sheds to skyscrapers, everything would be smashed and torn. You can see the flying debris all around.

Winds would be lower near the poles. Longyearbyen, on the island of Svalbard in Norway, the highest latitude city on the planet would confront utmost devastation.

"It's not that wind is blowing, it's what the wind is blowing." - Ron White, Comedian.

You can use a bunker made of some material that can stand firm against a 1000 miles per hour wind. But, only if, you're alone in that bunker.

Homo sapiens wouldn't go extinct. Very few people will survive. The flying debris would shatter anything that wasn't nuclear-hardened. If you're in a subway- tunnel or under any deep basement, you've have a very good chance of surviving.

The human race wouldn't go extinct. Especially, South Pole region.

The human race wouldn't go extinct. Especially, South Pole region.

For people living in South Pole, especially the staff at Amundsen-Scott Research Station, are the safest. For them, the first sign of trouble would that be that the outside world has suddenly gone mute.

What about the air and the oceans?

What about the air and the oceans?

The wind blast would change into heat blast. Gradually, the temperature would increase. The areas where the air is moist, they'll experience global thunderstorms. Also, the winds sweeping over the oceans would stir up and pulverize the surface layer of the water. For a while, the ocean would cease to have a surface at all; it would be impossible to guess where the sea began.

Oceans are cold  Below the thin surface layer, they have a temperature of about 4 degrees Celsius. If the tempest strikes, it would bubble up the cold water from the depth. Earth would experience an unforeseeable weather - an amalgamation of wind, spray, fog and rapid temperature changes. It would cause a mayhem in marine life, as well.

The winds will stretch across east to west. East-facing continents will run into the largest storm upsurge in the world history.

The windstorms would interfere dust and debris in astronomical amounts in the atmosphere. In the meanwhile, a dense blanket of fog would form over the cold ocean surfaces. This would cause global temperature to descend.

The normal cycle of day & night would be deranged.

The normal cycle of day & night would be deranged.

The sun wouldn't completely stop moving across the sky, but instead of rising and setting once a day, it would rise and set once a year. During daytime, the scorching heat will bake up the surface. Whereas at nights, the temperature would plummet. Massive storms would occur under the area directly beneath the sun.

Days and nights each will last for SIX months, even at the equator.

Days and nights each will last for SIX months, even at the equator.

In some ways, Earth would be tantamount to Venus. Also, the length of the day would change, but the length of the month would not.

Moon won't stop rotating around the Earth; instead it would stop drifting away from us (as it is doing currently).

Moon won't stop rotating around the Earth; instead it would stop drifting away from us (as it is doing currently).

In fact, the Moon - our natural satellite, would act to undo the damage caused till now. Right now, Earth's spin is faster than the Moon, and our tides slow down the Earth's rotation while pushing the moon away from us. If we stopped rotating, the Moon would stop drifting away from us. Instead of slowing us down, its tides would accelerate our spin. Gradually, the Moon's gravity would tug on our planet... and Earth would start turning again.

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