This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?

The polar and equatorial circumferences of the Earth differ by little more than one hundred miles, with the each circumference being slightly less than 25,000 miles. We shall adopt this figure for simplicity, although it will not make any difference to the conclusions drawn. Consider then the earth to be a perfectly smooth sphere (no mountains or valleys!) of radius r such that the circumference C =2πr = 25,000 mi. Now imagine a metal band to be wrapped tightly around the globe, so it is also equal to C. Then cut the band and insert an extra strip ΔC feet in length into the band, and arrange the now rather loose band into a circle concentric with that of the Earth, i.e. with the same "gap" everywhere. If this gap is d feet high, how large is d? Converting ΔC and d to miles, it follows that (C+[(ΔC)/(5280)]) = 2π(r+[d/(5280)]) Subtracting the equation C = 2πr from this yields the result for the width of the gap as d = [(ΔC)/(2π)] Putting in ΔC as 1,10,20 and 100 feet respectively gives the corresponding set of gaps in feet as approximately 0.16 (about 1.9 inches), 1.6, 3.2 and 16; really very surprising! Putting it another way, adding an extra foot to a band 25,000 miles in length results in a gap that a rat could squeeze under! Notice that the final result is independent of the radius of the Earth, or any other spherical object we choose to circumscribe, so these values hold for any such object - Jupiter (also not a sphere, but for our purposes r = 88,000 mi), or the Sun (r = 864,000 mi)! Of course, for increasingly small objects (such as soccer balls, billiard balls or even a mathematical point!) the gap is the same, but the result does not seem so impressive. Another point deserves consideration: really just how “smooth” is the Earth, in comparison with a billiard ball, for example? A crude estimate can be made, still assuming that the Earth is a sphere of radius r (≈ 3960 mi), by computing the “smoothness factor” S = [(hm - dt)/r] ≡ (Δr)/r

where h_{m} and d_{t} are the height of the highest mountain and depth of the deepest trench respectively, both relative to sea level. The height of Mt. Everest is about 29,000 feet, or 5.5 miles, while the Mariana trench is about 6 miles deep (or -6 miles high). This means that s=((5.5-(-6))/(3960))≈3×10⁻³ or three parts in one thousand, probably at least as smooth as a billiard ball! At this juncture we may well ask: so what? This is a well-known example of a simple counter-intuitive result which is easily derived, but does it have any realistic implications? Ernest Zebrowski, Jr., in his book on the history of the circle certainly thinks so. He examines what this example implies about the "real tectonic processes that have wrinkled the crust of our planet." He considers the now-solidified crust of the Earth as being composed of many such tight circumferential bands. In the present era this crust is a very thin layer between 4 and 40 miles thick overlaying an interior of molten rock. If one of these "bands" expands by 20 feet as a result of even a tiny increase in temperature (Zebrowski suggests 0.015°F), then as we have seen above, this could result in a "wrinkle" in the crust over 3 feet high! In general the situation would be one of uneven heating and cooling of the crust resulting in irregular regions where expansion and contraction occur. We end this particular example by relating the author's conclusions in his own words: "The crust is thrust upward in some places, while in other places it is drawn apart. The result is a spectrum of geophysical phenomena: earthquakes, volcanoes, and the growth of mountain ranges (Mt. Everest, for instance, grew about 26 feet between 1850 and 1950, and in the Alaskan earthquake of 1964, the surface in some locations was thrust upward by as much as 30 feet). The temperature fluctuations that drive this mechanism are very small and can't easily be measured, for we are talking about temperature changes within the crustal bands, at depths of several miles. The conclusion is nevertheless inescapable that significant geophysical surface phenomena result from tiny irregular changes in the planet's circumference. The algebraic calculation does not predict where such events will occur, but it does give us a mathematical analogy to explain them."

- The Mathematics of Sunblock
- Innumeracy
- Notes in Applied Mathematics
- Notes in Applied Mathematics
- Notes in Applied Mathematics
- Notes in Applied Mathematics
- Notes in Applied Mathematics
- Some Mathematical Models of Cancer
- Abraham Heschel Quote
- At the Right Time...
- Waves and Water Striders
- A mathematical model of snowball melting
- Mirages
- Bores and Nonlinear Waves
- Light Scattering and Wave Motion
- Iridescence on a Summer Afternoon
- Double Dog
- Glitter Ship Waves
- Fingers of Gollum
- Some reflections about faith...
- Recognize My Hand
- Delay is Not Denial
- Some Thoughts on Nature From the Writings of George Macdonald
- Mathematical Models of the Spread of Rumors, Diseases, and other stuff :-)
- You're as sweet as...Another estimation problem!

Sign up to vote on this title

UsefulNot usefulSubsequently published in "Mathematics in Nature: Modeling Patterns in the Natural World", Princeton University Press.

Subsequently published in "Mathematics in Nature: Modeling Patterns in the Natural World", Princeton University Press.

- Module 24 - Historical Geologyby swandi123
- 35001 - Handbook House Steinerby porkpattyslim
- introduction to geology plate tectonics, structural geology Drifting Continents and Spreading Seas,Plate Tectonics ,Minerals, Magma and Igneous Rocks ,Sedimentary Rocks ,Geological Timeby shanecarl
- PET Geophysics 2013.pdfby asit1219

- 76W0402 Eratosthenes Measure
- Proof of Earth's Shape
- Earth Centre
- Introastro Edited Lecture Transcripts Edited Lecture Transcripts Week01
- 1 PETROLOGIA IGNEA
- Donabelle de Dios Lesson Plan
- To All Children of the Sun & those with an Interest in Environmental Issues impacting our Earth
- Acc of N Pole
- Misconception Examples
- GeoTime PartI Vers2
- Lithosphere
- CV - Matthew G Jackson Geology & Geochemistry
- 2_history of Science
- Thermodynamic Questions 1
- Unit 1 Terms
- Chap 01
- WE SHOULD NOT THINK GEOLOGY OF THE EARTH LOCALLY BUT THINK GEOLOGY OF THE EARTH UNIVERSALLY
- The History of Life on Earth (1)
- National Science Foundation
- Changing Surface of Earth Unit I Study Guide
- Alfred Wegener - Continental Drift Theory
- 2012 Dangerous Places on Earth + Safest Locations
- Geography Heinemann Sample Pages
- Proyekto Sa Araling Panlipunan
- Module 24 - Historical Geology
- 35001 - Handbook House Steiner
- introduction to geology plate tectonics, structural geology Drifting Continents and Spreading Seas,Plate Tectonics ,Minerals, Magma and Igneous Rocks ,Sedimentary Rocks ,Geological Time
- PET Geophysics 2013.pdf
- Earth Made
- 892_ftp
- Band Tectonics

Are you sure?

This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?

We've moved you to where you read on your other device.

Get the full title to continue

Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.

scribd