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Thread: Childrens author looking for your brilliant scientific minds

  1. #1 Childrens author looking for your brilliant scientific minds 
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    Hi scientists,
    I am not a scientist but a writer. I am writing a childrens book and I really need come help from you brilliant scientists as I find it hard to understand.

    My questions are:
    if the earth stopped turning , what would the world be like?

    If children lived on one side of a planet that did not turn, what stars would they see?

    What kind of plants would be able to grow without sunlight?

    I know these are really big questions - and it is a fiction book but I want to make it as real as I can.
    PM me if you prefer and anyone who helps me out can get a reference in the book !


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    Quote Originally Posted by notascientist View Post
    Hi scientists,
    I am not a scientist but a writer. I am writing a childrens book and I really need come help from you brilliant scientists as I find it hard to understand.

    My questions are:
    if the earth stopped turning , what would the world be like?
    This could be interpreted two ways - the earth does not turn relative to the sun, or it does not turn relative to the fixed stars. If it does not turn relative to the sun, then the same hemisphere of the earth is always facing the sun. If it does not turn relative to the fixed stars, then each place on the earth will be lit by sunlight for half the year, and dark for the other half. Either way, the side facing the sun will get very hot, and the side facing away would get very cold.


    If children lived on one side of a planet that did not turn, what stars would they see?
    If the earth is not turning relative to the sun, then the people on the daylight side wouldn't see any stars, because the sun would always be out. The people on the night time side would see the same stars all night, instead of seeing some stars rise and others set through the night.

    If the earth is not turning relative to the fixed stars, then you would only see the stars at all in the "night-time" half of the year and they would always be the same stars. You could only see half the ones you can see now, because a point on the earth would always be facing the same part of the sky.
    What kind of plants would be able to grow without sunlight?
    The ones that aren't green - like fungus for example. Green plants are the ones that make food by photosynthesis. But, the kind that don't make their own food from photosynthesis have to feed on the ones that do make their own food, and those would be in short supply on the dark side.
    I know these are really big questions - and it is a fiction book but I want to make it as real as I can.
    PM me if you prefer and anyone who helps me out can get a reference in the book !


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  4. #3  
    Moderator Moderator Janus's Avatar
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    Just a couple of more points.

    In the case where the Earth doesn't rotate with respect to the Sun. The stars on the permanent "nightside" would see the stars in the sky rise and set, but it would take a year between star rise and star rise for the same star.

    In addition, when we talk about the earth not rotating with respect to the Sun, what really is happening is that the Earth is completing 1 rotation in the same time as it takes to complete 1 orbit.

    Now, since the Earth's axis of rotation is tilted by some 23 degrees, we get an effect known as libration. Which basically means that the Same effect that leads to our seasons now. The poles will switch between leaning towards and leaning away from the Sun. So you end up with regions in the Northern and Southern hemispheres that a have daylight/darkness cycle that last 1 year. The exact day/night ratio would depend on your exact location in those regions.

    This leaves ~37% of the Earth's surface that never sees the Sun and ~37% that never sees night. In the total sunlight area, the sun would drift North-South over the course of a year.

    The terminator (the line between day and night) would be likely be very windy. The extra heat on the day lit side and the lower temp on the night side would set up some pretty strong convection currents in the atmosphere ( and possibly rainy, as water that is evaporated on the day side is carried by the air towards the night side and condenses out as rain) .
    "Men are apt to mistake the strength of their feelings for the strength of their argument.
    The heated mind resents the chill touch & relentless scrutiny of logic"-W.E. Gladstone


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    Quote Originally Posted by notascientist View Post
    if the earth stopped turning , what would the world be like?
    First - if it suddenly stopped turning we'd all be in very bad shape, because the Earth turns at about 1000 mph at the equator. Coming to a stop suddenly would do massive damage depending on how you envisioned it happening.

    If it stopped relatively slowly (over the course of a few days) you'd have massive flooding as the oceans and lakes sloshed about, assuming the force acted on the solid Earth itself and not everything (including air and water.) It would have to happen over the course of months to avoid such an outcome. (I believe there was a children's story along those lines - "Age of Miracles" I think)

    I assume here you mean that it becomes "locked" to the Sun so that one side always faces the Sun. (i.e. still rotating once a year.) If so you would have a very hot side and a very cold side. On the hot side, water would evaporate, rise and tend to head towards the dark side of the planet, where it would cool and condense. You would have eternal strong winds blowing from the cold side to the warm side (at least on the surface.)

    How hot and how cold I'm not sure - it would depend on how effective heat transport was via the above-mentioned atmospheric circulation. You'd almost certainly get massive glaciers on the cold side. As you passed from the cold side to the warm side you'd have a habitable band, kept cool by the constant winds from the dark side. Water would be pretty plentiful due to the glaciers, which would grow continuously from the dark side and melt on the warm side. As you progressed towards the sunward point it would get progressively hotter and less habitable.

    Questions - would the dark side get cold enough anywhere to condense out CO2? (-108F) If so that would drive some really wild weather close to the "cold" pole. Would the warm side reach the boiling point of water anywhere? If so, again, big impact on weather for the entire planet. You'd almost certainly see a near-total extinction of life on the planet, followed by some very rapid evolution as new species evolved to fit the new environment.

    If children lived on one side of a planet that did not turn, what stars would they see?
    Same stars they see now - they just wouldn't move, or move very slowly if the Earth is locked to the Sun. (If they could see them at all, that is - some areas would likely be in perpetual storm.)

    What kind of plants would be able to grow without sunlight?
    Very few. Some might survive on organic matter swept from the light side, or around thermal vents as they do now.
    Last edited by billvon; September 29th, 2014 at 03:49 PM.
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    Hi Janus, Billvon and Harold143707

    THANK YOU all so much - this is truly fascinating and it gives me a lot to think about - I am going to take a day this week to read your responses properly to make sure I understand them, then I may have a couple more questions - but its unbelievably useful and helps me think about what the landscape and environment would be like.
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