Following up on last week’s episode regarding planet speed, this week we consider the speed of natural objects around us. We’ll hear about the speed of ocean currents, tectonic plates, air motion and more.
Everything moves. We know of no object – not one – that doesn’t spin on its own axis while also whizzing through space. It’s a hurry-up universe. But what about us? How fast are you moving through space? Glad you asked.
First, there’s your speed on our spinning planet, and this depends on where you live. At either pole, you don’t move at all. At the equator, you move at 1,038 miles per hours. If you like math, you can figure your exact speed by multiplying the cosine of your latitude by 1,038. It works out to about 750 miles an hour in typical American cities, which is very close to the speed of sound. And while you’re doing that, you’re also being carried through space at our planet’s orbital speed, which is an extremely fast 66,600 miles per hour.
We cover the Earth and Sun’s scheduled pole shifts. Usually the Sun's enormous magnetic field's north pole becomes south, and vice versa, every 11 years, and we are now entering solar cycle number 25. But the recent sunspot cycle has been weirdly drawn out. All this activity has its roots far below the surface in a solar zone called the tachocline, about 70% of the way from the center toward its gassy surface. It's powerful and yet, most people are more concerned about Earth's magnetic poles flipping over. Could our poles shift too?
Heat is simply the motion of atoms: Something feels hot because you sense the frenzied movement of those little critters. At 98.6 degrees all your body's atoms are jiggling at about 1,000 miles per hour. Atoms stop moving only at 460 degrees farhenheit below zero. Since nothing can go any slower than "stopped," this is indeed the coldest possible temperature -- Absolute Zero.