In Jim Carrey’s 2003 film “Bruce Almighty,” Carrey’s character suddenly acquires God-like powers, and uses those powers to dissolve the full moon and bring it closer to the hand. The world to entice his beloved. Later in the film, background photos show TV news reports of an unprecedented massive flood around the world.
While the film is obviously fantastic, it raises a question: What if the moon were twice as close to Earth as it is today?
In fact, the flood scenario from the film is not far from what could actually happen if the moon suddenly came very close. World, said Neil Comins, a physicist at the University of Maine. The most well-known effect of the moon is its gravitational pull on the Earth’s oceans, resulting in two high tides and two low tides a day.
But if the moon were half the distance from Earth as it is now, the tides would be eight times higher, Comins told Live Science. Some islands will be completely underwater for most of the day, and populated coasts are likely to become uninhabitable due to high tides, he added.
Related: If you’re on the moon, does the Earth seem to go through phases?
But higher tides in the oceans are not the only result of a closer moon. The moon also has a tidal effect on that of the Earth art, Said Comins.
If the moon were suddenly twice as close to Earth, the effect would be like hitting a gong with a mallet, Comins said: The waves of energy pass through the planet again due to the sudden increase in power of the gravitational pull of the moon.
And that sudden drop in gravity “will actually have an impact on the Earth’s crust, which means it could lead to more earthquakes, can cause more volcanic eruptions, “said Jazmin Scarlett, a historical and social volcanologist at Queen Mary University of London.
Take, for example, the moon of Jupiter I do, the most active volcanic world in the solar system, Scarlett said. Io’s volcanism results from the thrust and pull of Jupiter’s gravity and two of its other moons. The Earth can see a similar fate if the moon is suddenly half close.
Along with the sudden cutting of the planet’s crust, the Earth’s rotation slows down over time. This is because, like the moon gravity draws the oceans, the resulting friction between the ocean floor and water reduces the Earth’s rotation. Today, the Earth’s rotation is slowing down by about a thousand seconds per century, Comins said. If the moon were half the distance away, the rotation of the Earth would slow down further, dragging our days and nights.
If we were to survive the sudden earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, the lengthening of days and nights, and the higher tides, at least we would have to see more frequently. solar eclipse. Because the moon covers a larger area of the sky, it will be more likely to pass in front of the sun from our perspective, Comins said. Even we could still see the sun’s corona (outer atmosphere) shining around the moon’s dark silhouette, but not so clear, he added. Otherwise, the moon and its phases look the same, only bigger in the sky.
And what if the moon were to inspire slowly toward the Earth, rather than just moving abruptly? The crust and tides of the planet change more gradually, hopefully letting life adjust, Scarlett said. Scarlett said longer days and nights can change our climate and drive evolutionary change in a variety of ways. Animals have to adapt to a brighter moon at night. For example, prey may need to learn how to hide better at night, as predators may have more light when hunting.
While Morgan Freeman giving superpower won’t be the cause of the Earth’s moon shake, can something natural cause the moon to land closer to Earth?
This is wild speculation of course, but Comins decided on an answer: “If a massive enough object passes close to the Earth-moon system, and the moon was in the right place of its orbit as soon as this thing passed, this the thing could potentially take energy from the moon, causing it to inspire closer to us, ”Comins said.
So there would be a need for a huge asteroid to rise from Earth in the right place at just the right time to possibly push the moon towards us like a rotating ball with sewage. Of course, even if that happens, it will still take many, many years for the moon to get half the distance away as it is now, so that the Earth does not feel the effects right away.
Originally published on Live Science.