Is the Earth heavier than it used to be?

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  • Is the Earth heavier than it used to be?
  • Premier Icon Kryton57
    Subscriber

    So I’m thinking, everything we create is sourced from the earths environment. At a molecular level, are we not replacing molecules with molecules, and despite the fact we’ve covered the place with heavy objects (buildings, cars and ikea furniture) that are made from “man made” materials, it’s the same weight?

    My secondary question related to the same subject, it’s that if there is excess weight being placed on the planet, surely this has some impact on the Earths gravitational rotation and therefore via momentum, it’s position on space. So, could it possible be that we could accidentally – by manufacture – cause the Earth to be slung out of orbit when it reaches some kind of critical mass to overcome the current principles?

    What can I say, my mind works in mysterious ways.

    matthew_h
    Member

    I reckon that it must be ever so slightly lighter. There is an awful lot of debris in space that we have put there that will not be balanced out by the amount of stuff we’ve brought back from space.

    Doubt the numbers would have much effect on anything important though

    Dunno, but I am pounds lighter than I was a little while ago.

    Premier Icon maccruiskeen
    Subscriber

    click on google maps – look up your address and zoom out – we’ve barely made a mark on the planet in terms of built structures. Nothing we build adds to the weight of the planet as all the materials have been found on the planet – we’ve just moved them around.

    A not inconsiderable amount of new material falls to earth all the time though – not just the more exciting big flaming meteors – but tons and tons of dust

    Junkyard
    Member

    weighs less
    we burn coal and oil and transform it into heat which does not weigh the same.

    Then again we have loads of cattle so perhaps even?

    Fly off the orbit – the sun is what holds us we can neither fly off nor break free however much me weigh.

    wobbliscott
    Member

    We are losing some atmosphere into space – a very very tiny % of the overall mass of the Earth. Also we’re collecting the odd meteorite and have been for 4.5 billion years so overall I would think we are gaining weight.

    tiggs121
    Member

    There are more people though? Fewer dinosaurs.

    wysiwyg
    Member

    You cant destroy matter, so its getting heavier due to meteorites etc. Weve only been putting stuff in space for 50 years.. ish?

    Premier Icon maccruiskeen
    Subscriber

    we burn coal and oil and transform it into heat which does not weigh the same.

    it turns into CO2, water and ash which combined weigh exactly the same

    Premier Icon coolhandluke
    Subscriber

    The earth must be heavier, all old remains seem to be below ground. Therefore the earths diameter must be increasing so then getting heavier,

    cheez0
    Member

    Yes and no?

    Isn’t there a physics law to do with the conservation of mass?

    The only way earth can get heavier is for shit to come from the outside.

    so we gain a few lumps of space rock each year, making us heavier but we send shit into space making us lighter.

    kevj
    Member

    In the bigger scheme of things, it means f.a. The mass of the sun, the relative mass of our iron core has a very marginal effect on our orbit.

    The balance of (very engineered to be light weight) man made satellites and additional mass due to impacts has a net gain /loss of ???
    I dint know the figure, but it will be point 000 of a percentage.

    gwaelod
    Member

    http://science.slashdot.org/story/12/02/02/1844205/

    Hugh Pickens writes writes
    “BBC recently asked physicist and Cambridge University professor Dave Ansell to draw up a balance sheet of the mass that’s coming in to the earth, and the mass going out to find out if the earth is gaining or losing mass. By far the biggest contributor to the world’s mass is the 40,000 tonnes of dust that is falling from space to Earth every year. ‘The Earth is acting like a giant vacuum cleaner powered by gravity in space, pulling in particles of dust,’ says Dr. Chris Smith. Another factor increasing the earth’s mass is global warming which adds about 160 tonnes a year because as the temperature of the Earth goes up, energy is added to the system, so the mass must go up. On the minus side, at the very center of the Earth, within the inner core, there exists a sphere of uranium five mile in diameter which acts as a natural nuclear reactor so these nuclear reactions cause a loss of mass of about 16 tonnes per year.”
    (Read more, below.)
    Pickens continues: “What about launching rockets and satellites into space, like Phobos-Grunt? Smith discounts this as the mass is negligible and most of it will fall back down to Earth again anyway. But by far the biggest factor in earth’s weight loss are the 95,000 tonnes of hydrogen that escape from the atmosphere every year. ‘The other very light gas this is happening to is helium and there is much less of that around, so it’s about 1,600 tonnes a year of helium that we lose.’ Taking all the factors into account, Smith reckons the Earth is getting about 50,000 tonnes lighter a year, which is just less than half the gross weight of the Costa Concordia, the Italian cruise liner that recently ran aground.”

    large418
    Member

    It depends where in the earths life cycle it is. If it’s in middle age then it’s going to be heavier (probably a bit fatter round the equator). Then when it gets really old it’s going to lose quite a lot of weight and go round a bit slower. Then it’ll either go a bit wobbly or will stop going round altogether and just sit there.

    Bit like a person really

    rossi46
    Member

    The moon has a greater effect than we do, and it’s moving away at a very small rate. So it 50million years time the moon may leave our orbit and we’ll get lost in space.
    We may have made ourselves extinct by then though 😆

    wobbliscott
    Member

    I’m not sure if burning fossil fuels the products of combustion have the same mass as the original material or if you are converting mass into energy (I though you could only do this via nuclear fission or fusion). Where does the heat energy come from? Is it converted from the mass, or is the chemical reaction exothermic? I’m not sure of the chemistry here.

    I’ve lost weight. But gravity feels the same. The planet must be heavier.

    derekfish
    Member

    Surely it’s the wrong question, since ‘weight’ is a measurement derived by gravity then if the earth has increased in size and it’s gravitational pull increased then the answer would be yes. Do things ‘weigh’ anything at the sub atomic level? That Higgs Boson, what does that weigh? And the God Particle if they’re not the same thing?

    kevj
    Member

    Thinking about this again, the earth is actually pretty fooking massive. We humans think on a very scalar level.

    A brick is quite heavy and big for one hand to pick up. The surface of the world is scarily massive.

    wobbliscott
    Member

    It sure is, but the fact that absolutely blows my mind is that despite is physical size and huge mass its mostly empty space – the space between the atoms. I remember reading a that if you took away the empty space between the atoms you can fit the mass of a battleship into a baseball! Though I understand this I just can’t comprehend it.

    Premier Icon Kryton57
    Subscriber

    A brick is quite heavy and big for one hand to pick up. The surface of the world is scarily massive.

    Not sure that’s any more than an observation.

    Premier Icon richmtb
    Subscriber

    Where does the heat energy come from? Is it converted from the mass, or is the chemical reaction exothermic? I’m not sure of the chemistry here.

    Its both, the reaction is an exothermic chemical reaction but as energy is created mass must be lost, according to the famous equation though it is only a tiny amount of mass.

    colande
    Member

    this is covered by Karl
    It’s number 9 (@1.10) 🙂

    [video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hol4h0liWWY#t=97[/video]

    Premier Icon eddiebaby
    Subscriber

    Sounds like one for Mr Monroe:

    http://what-if.xkcd.com

    Crag
    Member

    Will having a big shit make a difference?

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Subscriber

    Remember also that helium (though it is very light) in the atmosphere is lost to space – and we have no way of acquiring more. In fact, helium could be the first element we run out of.

    maxtorque
    Member

    Crag
    Will having a big shit make a difference?

    Only if the previous nights curry was so powerful to ensure your turd leaves at the 17,500mph required for escape velocity and it to become orbital…….

    poly
    Member

    Is the conveyor belt moving?

    kevj
    Member

    Kryton57 – Member
    A brick is quite heavy and big for one hand to pick up. The surface of the world is scarily massive.
    Not sure that’s any more than an observation

    Erm, yes?

    When read in conjunction with my previous post, it may make more sense. The net amount of mass gained/ lost, relative to the mass of the earth is tiny.

    Premier Icon Daffy
    Subscriber

    Conservation of mass only holds true for thermodynamically closed systems in which energy transfers can be assumed to be completely isolated from any external environment. Since the Earth operates on a larger scale of physics than most thermodynamic systems, the theories of conservation of mass (and by relation conservation of matter) must give way to relativity. As such and despite meteoritic gains, heat, light and gas radiated into space will slowly reduce the planets overall mass.

    Premier Icon Kryton57
    Subscriber

    So, if the moon is distancing itself, then surely this is because the gravitational effect of the sun is weakening, or because when the Earth is between the Sun and the moon, the moons mass and momentum works in such a way as to reduce the Sun and Earths effect on it.

    What’s to say this can’t be true of Earth, or that the Suns pull might weaken leading to the point of critical mass to launch us out of orbit?

    wrightyson
    Member

    Just with the number of stove owners on here surely it’s lighter because if all the wood we burn!

    Premier Icon richmtb
    Subscriber

    So, if the moon is distancing itself, then surely this is because the gravitational effect of the sun is weakening, or because when the Earth is between the Sun and the moon, the moons mass and momentum works in such a way as to reduce the Sun and Earths effect on it.

    The moon is distancing itself because the earth is providing a slight kick to the moon each time it rotates due to tidal forces. The extra energy puts the moon in a slightly higher orbit but it only about 3cm a year so not something we have to worry about for a while. The other side of this equation is that the rotation of the Earth is slowing down. Each day is longer than the previous one. Again not something you need to worry too much about its only around 2.5 milliseconds a century, no need to buy a new watch just yet.

    The Sun is also losing mass – it is after all a massive fusion reactor that is turning matter into energy. But again the effect is very small.

    In around 2-3 billion years as the Sun becomes a Red Giant it will have lost enough mass to significantly effect the orbit of the earth.

    However I wouldn’t worry about it as the increasing intensity of the sun output in around 1 billion years time will have all ready boiled the oceans dry

    what about the fact that the universe is expanding at an increasing rate relativistically increasing the mass of all the objects in it? Or cos its space that’s accelerating does it cancel itself out. Knew I shouldn’t have watched that Light and Dark thing last night – head’s cabbaged.

    matt_bl
    Member

    scotroutes – Member

    Remember also that helium (though it is very light) in the atmosphere is lost to space – and we have no way of acquiring more. In fact, helium could be the first element we run out of.

    We will only technically run-out. Helium is produced as an alpha particle during radioactive decay so there is a pretty constant supply, just a very very slow one.

    The reserves we used to have were produced over many millions of years and trapped underground.

    Hard to beleive you can still fill a balloon with the stuff on the high street!

    Matt

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    The Sun is also losing mass – it is after all a massive fusion reactor that is turning matter into energy. But again the effect is very small

    I bet solar wind accounts for much more.

    So, if the moon is distancing itself, then surely this is because the gravitational effect of the sun is weakening, or because when the Earth is between the Sun and the moon, the moons mass and momentum works in such a way as to reduce the Sun and Earths effect on it.

    Eh what?

    It’s apparently gaining energy from the spinning earth, via the mass of water involved in tides. The Earth used to spin faster.

    Premier Icon ransos
    Subscriber

    You cant destroy matter

    We split the atom quite a while ago!

    maxtorque – Member

    Crag
    Will having a big shit make a difference?

    Only if the previous nights curry was so powerful to ensure your turd leaves at the 17,500mph required for escape velocity and it to become orbital…….

    That would also require you to be taking a shit with your bottom pointing skywards.

    Anyone tried it?

    kevj
    Member

    That would also require you to be taking a shit with your bottom pointing skywards.
    Anyone tried it?

    Taking a shit upwards or measuring it’s velocity?

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