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The simplest and closest object to study is our planet Earth. An ordinary person knows a lot about his home planet, but there are always secrets and mysteries.
Nevertheless, even in the luggage of knowledge of most of us there are several myths about the Earth, in which we firmly believe. Our story will go about these myths dedicated to the modern Earth.
Everest is constantly growing, slowly moving upward. It turns out that fifty million years ago, the Indian subcontinent decided to start moving from the equator to the north. Gradually, he crashed into Asia, which led to the emergence of the Himalayas. The highest point of this massif is Everest, whose height is 8848 meters. It is logical to assume that since the subcontinent continues to press on Asia, then Everest must constantly grow up. However, scientists who observe the height of the mountain think differently. Professor Giorgio Poretti of the University of Trieste discovered in 1995 that Everest did not increase its height in any way. The best tools were used that could only improve the accuracy of the measurement of this parameter. Poretti found that the ongoing collision of India and Asia led to the movement of Everest northeast at a speed of 4.2 centimeters per year. Those who want to conquer the highest peak of the Earth will have to climb exactly the same height as Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzig Norgay, who did it for the first time in 1953. In this case, the highest point will be almost 3 meters northeast of that very place.
Everest is the highest mountain in the world. We have already talked about Everest above, but few people know that this mountain is not at all the highest on the planet. There is a peak Mauna Loa, whose name means "Long Mountain". It is actually part of the Hawaiian island. True, visually the mountain does not look as high as Everest. But this is a misleading impression - most of Mauna Loa is hidden under water. Only the top itself is raised above it. The total height of the mountain is as much as 10.2 kilometers. Thus, Mauna Loa is much higher than the famous Everest. The little-known record holder also has his own differences. Part of the mountain is half of the island, but it itself is also a volcano. More precisely, they say there are many of them. Mauna Loa is a few shields, wide fire-breathing vents. They appear, opening the way for the rapid lava from the bowels of the planet. The molten mass flows out so quickly that it does not even have enough time to solidify. A million years ago, the eruptions of this huge volcano were common, but even now it is still active. It is also interesting that the enormous weight of the mountain literally pushed the bottom of the ocean eight kilometers deep. If we take this into account, then the total height of the volcano will be more than 17 kilometers. So Mauna Loa has no competitors in the title of the highest mountain on the planet.
The tornado can be seen. Many people imagine what a tornado looks like, but it is better not to watch it, but to try to hide. But how can you even see this phenomenon, because the air itself is transparent? In fact, what we observe, from a technical point of view, is a cloud filled with water droplets, and most often also mud with debris. All this is formed inside an invisible vortex of moving air, which is the very tornado. And it appears in the so-called "super-cells", areas of the storm with strong rotating updrafts. It is still not clear why this crater that has arisen stretches down to the ground. It is likely that temperature differences at the boundaries of other adjacent downdrafts may play a role. Inside the rotating funnel itself, water vapor condenses, which helps it go down. But a tornado can cause destruction on the ground long before the crater is fully formed.
The clouds weigh nothing. Looking at the beautiful fluffy clouds floating high in the sky, it seems that they weigh nothing. After all, this is essentially a light haze. In fact, clouds have a very real and considerable weight. A medium sized cumulus cloud saturated with water droplets and can weigh up to 500 tons. And this "hippopotamus" floats across the sky only because the air around is even heavier. Cumulus clouds, like us, are found in the lowest layers of the atmosphere. Air molecules have a certain weight, while the pressure of a column of air can reach a kilogram per square centimeter. The average person who is 168 centimeters tall and weighs 70 kilograms can withstand a pressure of 17 tons. But all this mass does not crush us because the air is not only outside, but also inside us. You can also apply Archimedes' law to air. The force that pushes the cloud upward is comparable to the mass of air displacing the cloud. And all this happens near the surface of the earth, as a result, multi-ton cumulus clouds float above us in exactly the same way as a cruise liner on the surface of the ocean.
Tornadoes create only air currents. It turns out that there are magnetic tornadoes on other planets. They were discovered by experts from NASA, whose robotic probe reached Mercury. Twisted tornadoes were detected in the magnetic field of this planet, whose length was about 800 kilometers. Such movements of streams are called "plasmoids", they are formed in those places where the magnetic field of the Sun and Mercury itself collide. Scientists believe that it is this phenomenon that makes the planet's atmosphere so thin. Huge magnetic tornadoes direct the solar wind, or plasma, from the Sun down to the planet's surface. There, electrically charged particles decompose gases that are bound in the rocks. Scientists have long suspected a connection between the magnetic fields of the Earth and the Sun. It is she who gives rise to the famous northern lights. But before receiving information from Mercury, scientists did not even suspect how closely these magnetic fields are connected. There are such tornadoes on our planet, but you should not be afraid of them. And although magnetic phenomena occur on Earth every eight minutes, a thick layer of the atmosphere reliably protects the inhabitants from deadly radiation.
There is no life in stones. People often go to the deserted rocky islets to be alone. Here are just a few, both in the desert and deep in the cave, who still feel the presence of someone living nearby. The rocks themselves do not have eyes and ears, but tiny life forms, endoliths, live there. A stone lifeless for humans is a native home for these organisms. Endoliths are natural extremophiles that live without problems in extreme conditions. Such organisms are found even in the ground at a depth of three kilometers. Survival comes at the expense of water seeping down through the earth's cracks. And some of their endoliths feed on rocks in direct acid. To do this, microorganisms secrete acid, which allows you to split off a little stone food. When it comes to how deeply life can lurk in the bowels of the earth, the main limiting criterion is temperature. Heat comes from the center of the planet; at a depth of 5 kilometers below the surface, it can reach 125 degrees. Whether someone lives deeper, scientists still cannot find out. The study of extremophiles shows that at this temperature they are deprived of the opportunity to reproduce. So this depth, even for them, may be extreme.
The surface of the earth is motionless. Even peaceful and calm Switzerland rises and falls by almost a quarter of a meter every day. Our Earth not only provides food for many forms of life, but also “breathes” itself, due to its flexibility. That is why the Mauna Loa volcano was able to push the ocean floor so deeply. However, such elasticity means that large space bodies - the Moon and the Sun - can act on the surface. True, such interaction will not be as noticeable as with the sea. There are no coasts on the surface that would measure the ebb and flow. Nevertheless, some parts of the earth's crust rise and then slowly and imperceptibly sink. It would be logical to observe such an effect on large plains, where there are no ridges and mountains that interfere with this. But even the Alps are insignificant for the Moon and the Sun. And such "earth tides" daily raise and lower even this mountainous region.
Cyclones can dance. Tornadoes are often confused with cyclones, but in fact the latter are low pressure areas with spiraling winds. In the northern hemisphere, the spiral turns counterclockwise, and in the southern hemisphere, clockwise. A cyclone in general can be not only a hurricane, but also any other type of low-pressure system, if there is an appropriate wind direction. Japanese meteorologist Sakuhei Fujiwara was able to find out that when two cyclones are close enough to each other, they begin to "dance" around a common point. The effect is called the scientist who discovered it. It is noted if cyclones of approximately equal strength are encountered. Otherwise, a weaker vortex will be absorbed by a strong one. The most famous and most destructive example of this "dance" happened in 2012. Typically, hurricanes of the Caribbean and Atlantic meet with strong westerly winds, which push them away from the shores of North America. Hurricane Sandy was destined to live that kind of life, but suddenly it turned around and came back to the United States and Canada. Superstorm struck America, and all because there was another area of low pressure nearby. In this system, the winds had already weakened, and the hurricane from the Caribbean was already abating. But being close, two storms merged into one. Unfortunately, this happened on the shore, which caused abundant destruction with the help of wind and raging water.
Large earthquakes happen quickly and unexpectedly. Earthquakes occur with the movement of rocks along faults. But they are different. Sometimes it is just a minor crack, then the earthquake itself will be small. Otherwise, the fault line may be at the junction of two tectonic plates. These huge masses have tremendous energy and their collision is fraught with disastrous consequences. Before a major earthquake occurs, seismic shocks occur. Scientists were very surprised when they learned that huge plates can move relative to each other without any shocks at all. This was discovered after the installation of very sensitive seismic equipment on the border of the San Andreas Fault near California. There, the Pacific and North American plates slide past each other. Similar devices have been installed along the Alpine Fault near New Zealand. There, the Pacific plate slides along the Australian continental plate. There have been several large earthquakes near that fault in the past, but in the central part everything was unnaturally calm. Scientists began to closely observe this area, believing that there are hidden reserves of energy, capable of breaking out, creating a catastrophe of a planetary scale. And there was a kind of seismic tremor. It represents a whole series of small earthquakes, each of which lasts about half an hour. And something similar was recorded near the San Andreas Fault, although in this case scientists are not quite sure about the applicability of the term "tremor". It may well be that this is how energy accumulates before the next shock. On the other hand, this way the accumulated energy can be gradually dumped, reducing the intensity of the future cataclysm. And it will certainly happen when the plates begin to move again in this zone.
A supervolcano is about to erupt in Yellowstone. Yellowstone National Park is home to geysers. There are many hot springs and boiling mud pots. And some of the samples of this violent underground activity appeared here already at the beginning of our century. Then archaeologists came up with the term "supervolcano", and Yellowstone himself became number one in this category. Experts predict a possible imminent explosion of the entire park. But this is unlikely to happen in the near future. Recent studies have shown that although there is a lot of magma under Yellowstone, it is in such a form that it simply cannot be erupted. True, in the history of mankind there have been no supervolcanic eruptions yet, so it is not clear exactly what signs will precede this and how to identify them at all. It is believed that the main eruption must have been preceded by many earthquakes and other natural disasters. But often volcanoes wake up completely unexpectedly and for no reason. Who knows, maybe we should expect the same from a supervolcano? There is another candidate on the planet for the title of supervolcano - the Chilean volcano Laguna del Mol. There are no eruptions on it, and there are no signs, like Yellowstone, here. But the volcano swells every year by 24-28 centimeters, and why this happens remains another mystery.