Ok folks, you’re gonna have to follow me pretty closely on this one. Have you ever thought of what would happen if you were to take a journey to the center of the earth?
Just for kicks, let’s suppose someone had dug a hole that went all the way through the Earth and came out the other side. Now I know what most of you science buffs are thinking, “There’s no way you could physically do that!” And you’re right, but this is a hypothetical situation here.
Let’s suppose someone did manage to dig that hole and you were on your morning stroll. The all the sudden “WHOOPS” you fell in it! What exactly would happen to you at this point? Would you fall all the way through and fly out the other side?
What is Inside the Earth
Well, we’ve all learned in school that the Earth’s core is filled with molten rock, essentially, the Earth is alive and moving inside. Seems kind of hard to imagine it considering what the surface looks like. But keeping this in mind, digging a hole through the center of the Earth would cause you to hit this molten rock and any attempt to go any further would be impossible.
But even if we could go through this hot molten core and come out the other side, how bout then? Would you be able to fall all the way through?
The Physics of Falling Through the Earth
According to the physics and rules of gravity, once you reached the center of the Earth, you would no longer weigh anything. The force of gravity is the reason for this, being in the center would cause there to be equal amounts of Earth on all sides of you. So basically, any gravitational pull in one direction would be cancelled out by gravitational pull from the opposing direction. Thus making your body weight nothing.
Keeping these gravitational forces in mind, upon first falling into the hole your body would accelerate as you fell further. But the closer to the core you got, you would begin to slow down due to the opposing gravitational pulls we were just talking about. So by the time you reached the center you would weigh nothing. But because of all the speed you had built up during your journey, you would continue coasting right through the center.
As you traveled further towards the other side you’d be hoping, “Ahhh, about to make it all the way through, then I can go eat lunch.” But guess again… Considering the majority of the Earth’s mass would be behind you at this point, you would begin slowing down until just before reaching the opening on the other end.
By the time you reached the very edge of the rim on the opposite side, there would be a brief pause. At which point your journey would begin all over again, and you would plummet right back from where you came and through the shaft again. Keep in mind this would be an 8,000 mile trip one way. So basically this would be a never ending loop and you would be trapped for eternity going back and forth through this 8,000 mile shaft!
The Effects of Air During your Journey
Ok, now that was all pretty interesting, but the reality of all this…there would be air present. Yep, that’s right, the previous example was neat for a fun adventure, but the reality is, there would be air friction playing against you the whole time.
Air friction would essentially be slowing you down on each pass as you fell back and forth through the shaft. So logically, you would never fully reach the other end of the shaft. Then on your return journey back through the hole, you wouldn’t be able to reach your starting point again.
If you can imagine a pencil on a string swinging back and forth with only one push. Eventually it would stop in the middle and cease to swing, right? Well your journey to the center of the Earth would be much the same. The air friction would take more and more off your journey with each pass until eventually you would stop right in the middle of the Earth. And we all remember what’s in the center, Molten Rock!
Another interesting thing to think about would be how the rotation of the Earth would play into all this. Would you be banging up against the sides the whole way through, or if you were able to reach the other side, would the hole move out from underneath you so you could land on solid ground? They say the Earth spins pretty darn fast…
I’ll leave you with those thoughts and see what you come up with. I definitely recommend no one try this at home. But if you know how we could shave some time off a road trip by going through the center of the Earth then help us out with some ideas in the comments below.