If you think that Mount Everest is the highest mountain on Earth and our planet is basically packed with freshwater – you’re about to get the biggest shock of your life. Scientific discoveries are made every day, but not all of them get the necessary amount of exposure. We, humans, still live in the dark when it comes to facts about planet Earth because it’s almost impossible to get up to speed with the ever-changing facts that seem to be solid one moment and then change completely the other. For those of you who’d like to get their facts straight, we’ve gathered 10 mind-bending discoveries you’ve probably never heard before.
Did you know that the atmosphere of Earth has borders? It appears that at the altitude of 100 km above the sea level, there lies an internationally accepted line that’s called The Kármán line. Although Earth’s atmosphere stretches much further out into space, this line has been recognized by The World Air Sports Federation as the border separating our planet’s atmosphere and outer space.
The tallest mountain in the world
Everest has been generally considered the tallest mountain on Earth, but it is not quite true. It appears that Mauna Kea, a huge dormant volcano on Hawaii, is much taller if we take into consideration the part of the mountain that lies beneath sea level. If we measure Mount Kea from the base to the peak, we’ll get a height of 10,203 meters, while Mount Everest is ‘only’ 8, 848 meters high.
We’ve grown used to believing that Earth is basically made of water. But is that water drinkable? It appears that oceans and seas comprise 97% of Earth’s water resources, which is salty water we cannot drink. This leaves us with only 3% of freshwater which can be mostly found in glaciers (70%) and Lake Baikal (20%).
The driest place on Earth
It’s a common belief that deserts are the driest places on Earth, one Atacama Desert in particular. Located in Chile, this desert hasn’t seen a drop of rain for thousands of years. Nevertheless, there’s a place that hasn’t seen rain for eons! The desolate lands of McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica have been dry for 2 million years and will probably stay that way for twice as long. The winds there are especially ferocious and can reach speeds of 320 km/h.
The Moon and Earth were one planet
Scientists are still debating the origin of the Moon, but most of them agree that it’s most likely that it formed after Earth collided with a Mars-sized protoplanet billions of years ago. Swedish scientists believe that 4,533 billion years ago Earth was hit by an ancient planet called Theia that had an orbit similar to Earth’s. As the planets grew bigger, Theia’s orbit became unstable and the planet hit Earth. The debris left by the collision later formed the Moon we know today.
The oldest temple in the world
Not many people heard the name Göbekli Tepe, which is considered to be the oldest temple in the world. Archaeologists believe this megalithic temple made with huge stone pillars arranged in intricate circles was created by ancient hunter-gatherers, but evidence suggests that a far more advanced society created this monumental structure in Southern Turkey 12,000 ago. This incredible temple is 7,000 years older than Pyramids and at least 6,500 years older than Stonehenge. Yet no carving tools were found on the site!
Continents will reunite in 250 million years
Scientists believe that around 330 million years ago all continents existed as one Pangea, which later split into Laurasia and Gondwana. As time went by, these two continents also split apart and formed the seven continents we live on today. Nevertheless, Earth’s continents are always on the move, and in some 250 million years we’ll all be living on the new supercontinent called Pangea Ultima. The world’s landmass will clamp into one, with a huge inland sea in the very heart of it – all that will be left of the once powerful Atlantic Ocean.
The first mass extinction was caused by a single-celled organism
It seems that Massachusetts Institute of Technology has finally solved one of the biggest ancient mysteries of Earth – what wiped out 90% of all species on Earth about 252 million years ago? It was not the only mass extinction in the history of Earth, but it’s been hard to pinpoint the culprit for this one. Scientists found evidence that it was not the volcanoes, coal fires, or asteroids that wiped out most of Earth’s life forms, but a new form of methane-producing microbes. Methanosarcina suddenly bloomed in Earth’s oceans, spewing methane into atmosphere and changing the climate of the whole planet.
Most of Earth always lies in the dark
Here’s a fun thought to consider: as we know, 71% of our planet’s surface is covered by the World Ocean. Sunlight doesn’t go very deep into the water, in fact, it only goes as far as 200 meters! This means that the rest of the water lies in the dark that hasn’t been penetrated by rays of light for millennia. This also means that most of our planet always lies in the dark, whether it is ‘day’ or ‘night’ outside!
A new garbage continent
We all know that tons of garbage are dumped into seas and oceans, but what happens with it next? Nowadays there exist garbage patches (also known as vortices) that are basically patches of debris that gets into water from ships and their lost cargo. This garbage is moved all over the place by oceanic currents until it forms into garbage patches. The biggest garbage vortex we know of today is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Scientists speculate that one day all the trash that mankind pours into seas and oceans will come together to form a whole new island or even a continent.