Did You Know That Earth Is Getting Lighter Every Day?

Earth is getting 50,000 tonnes lighter every year, even while 40,000 tonnes of space dust fall on our planet’s surface during the same period. So, why are we losing so much weight?

Adding weight - Earth gains about 40,000 tonnes of dust every year, the remnants of the formation of the solar system, which are attracted by our gravity and become part of the matter in our planet. Our planet is actually made from all that starstuff. NASA says that Earth gains about 160 tonnes of matter a year because the global temperature is going up: “If we are adding energy to the system, the mass must go up.” Oh, those crazy thermodynamics.

No effect - Of course, having more people or building stuff doesn’t add any mass to the planet. Humans and things are made with the matter that is already in the planet. It’s just being transformed. Most of the rockets and satellites that we launch to Earth orbit eventually fall down back to Earth, so no real effect here.

Losing weight - Earth’s core loses energy over time. It’s like a giant nuclear reactor that burns fuel. Less energy means less mass. 16 tonnes of that are gone every year. Not much. And here’s the big mass loss: about 95,000 tonnes of hydrogen and 1,600 tones of helium escape Earth every year. They are too light for gravity to keep them around, so they get lost. Gone into space.

The result: the rough estimate is -50,000 tonnes every year. Which is about 0.000000000000001% less mass every year.Should we be worried about Earth disappearing into thin air? No, you shouldn’t. And you shouldn’t worry about losing hydrogen. There’s plenty and it will take trillions of years to deplete it.

via Wtf News

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4 Responses to Did You Know That Earth Is Getting Lighter Every Day?

  1. Geza Zake says:

    The sun illuminates the earth continuously. Part of the energy absorbed by the atoms and molecules of the Earth. This logical Earth mass increases. Part of the energy is reflected causing our optical perception and color of the world. This reflection gives to man knowledge which together with nature transformed billion tons of terrestrial mass into energy. Fire is the result of burning billions of tons of fossil fuels, electricity is nothing but a mass converted into energy that drives the machinery, trains, cars, boats, planes … If the universe falls to Earth only 40,000 tons of space dust per year, it should be known how many tons “light mass ” falls annually on Earth, and how the Earth went into space energy , say illuminating only cities across the world.

    Besides all the scientists are saying that the sun gradually loses its mass, turning it into energy. Therefore it is logical that the mass of the Sun time decreases, thereby reducing the gravity. The consequence is that the Earth is farther from the Sun in the direction of the ice age. How much does it go fast or slow, do you know anyone?
    Our star – the Sun convert hydrogen to helium o produce light and other radiation. This procese dicrease the mass of the Sun. As time progresses, the heavier helium sinks to the center of the star, with a shell of hydrogen around this helium center core. To radiate the energy produced by the helium burning, the star expands into a Red Giant. The hydrogen is depleted so it no longer generates enough energy and pressure to support the outer layers of the star. As the Sun collapses, the pressure and temperature rise until it is high enough for helium to fuse into carbon, i.e. helium burning begins. Mass of the Sun is further reduced.

  2. Phil Krause says:

    Chemically around 75% of the sun is hydrogen, the rest is mostly helium. However, about 1.69% of the Sun’s mass is heavier elements such as carbon, oxygen, neon and iron. This doesn’t sound much but it is still 5628 times the total mass of the Earth. Through the Sun’s life, most of the energy produced is through the p-p (proton-proton) chain which converts hydrogen into helium. However, around 0.8% of the energy generated by the Sun comes from the CNO (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen) cycle which converts helium into these three elements progressively. As time goes on a higher and higher percentage of this energy comes from the CNO cycle and less and less from the p-p cycle. Because the conversion of CNO requires more energy the Sun slowly heats up during its lifetime. This means that when the Sun formed it generated only about 75% of the energy it currently produces. We call this the “chinese restaurant” paradox, or the “dim young Sun” paradox.

    Because they are heavier, the core will consist of the Sun’s heavier elements and the helium so most of its reactions will take place within a shell around these elements. However, 99% of the power is generated within 24% of the Sun’s radius and by 30% virtually all reactions have stopped. The core has a temperature of close to 15.7 million kelvin. By contrast, the Sun’s surface is about 5800 kelvin (K). Neutrinos account for about 2% of this energy which are radiated away from the centre, taking only 2.3 seconds to reach the surface because they hardly interact with any matter. The photons however, take somewhere between 10,000 and 170,000 years to reach the surface because they are constantly being absorbed and re emitted. As they get further from the centre of the Sun their average energy or temperature is reduced. This is why we see the Sun’s light at the frequency we see it at. Under supernova conditions, the hotter centre will be revealed and therefore we see a much brighter emissions but for a very short period along with the hotter reactions that are going on by this stage. The Sun releases energy at a mass-energy conversion rate of 4.26 million metric tons per second. However, because the Sun’s diameter is 109 times that of the Earth and is about 150 million km away, only the tiniest fraction of this energy falls on the Earth.

    The neutrinos go straight through the Earth while most of the higher energy photons are absorbed or reflected by the atmosphere while the rest will warm the surface of the Earth. At night , when the Sun no longer shines on that part of the heated Earth, it radiates this gained energy away, heating up the atmosphere a little in the process before being lost to space. The average energy of this radiation, because of its temperature, is far lower than that radiated by the Sun’s surface. That’s why, when we have no cloud cover over night, its much colder in the morning because a higher percentage of this energy has not been absorbed by the atmosphere. If you were to calculate, the average energy received by the Earth compared with the energy radiated by it, you would find it to be about equal. Otherwise the Earth would heat up over time or cool down over time without control. When there is a slight difference, over time we have ice ages of global warming and the polar caps melt. Thus, on average the energy received from the Sun, neither adds to, or takes from the mass of the Earth. We do however, rely on it for all the life on it. Without it, the Earth’s heat would have been lost long ago, apart from the 3 kelvin we have where there are no Sun’s close by.

  3. Deskarati says:

    Wow, I don’t think we have had two more illuminating (excuse the pun) comments on Deskarati before. Thanks to both Geza & Phil.

  4. Phil Krause says:

    The present is always right now
    No sooner arrived but gone to become the past
    Maybe you have to anticipate the present
    But alas, that is the future
    The more exact you define the present
    The more it exists for no time at all
    Until all that we have is the past and the future.

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