# What will happen if Earth stops spinning suddenly?

“probably know, the Earth is rotating on its axis. This gives us day

and night. Of course it’s impossible, but what would happen if the Earth

stopped spinning? Remember, this isn’t possible, it can’t happen, so

don’t worry.

Everything would be launched in a ballistic trajectory sideways

The first thing to think about is the momentum of everything on the

surface of the Earth. You’re held down by gravity and you’re whizzing

through space at a rotational velocity of 1,674.4 km/h (at the equator).

You can’t feel it because of momentum. Just like how you can’t feel

that you’re moving in a car going down the highway. But you feel the

effects when you stop, or get into an accident. And so, if the Earth

suddenly stopped spinning, everything on the surface of the Earth at the

equator would suddenly be be moving at more than 1,600 km/hour

sideways. The escape velocity of Earth is about 40,000 km/hour, so that

isn’t enough to fly off into space; but it would cause some horrible

damage as everything flew in a ballistic trajectory sideways. Imagine

the oceans sloshing sideways at 1,600 km/hour.

The rotational velocity of the Earth decreases as you head away from

the equator, towards the poles. So as you got further away from the

equator, your speed would decrease. If you were standing right on the

north or south pole, you’d barely even feel it.

A day would last 365 days

The next problem is that day and night wouldn’t work the same any more.

Right now the Earth is rotating on its axis, returning the Sun to the

same position every 24 hours. But if the Earth stopped spinning, it

would then take 365 days for the Sun to move through the sky and return

to the same position. Half of the Earth would be baked for half a year,

while the other hemisphere was in darkness. It would get very hot on the

sunny side, and very cold in the shadowed side.