Ever Wondered How Fast Earth Rotates? It Will Shock You

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Earth In Space

I personally believed that the earth rotates very slowly which is why it takes a whole day to complete its rotation, And that is the reason we don’t feel the rotational effect. But I was wrong. While doing research for this ConceptDive article I got to know things that really shock me. So today we will be discussing on How Fast Earth Rotates and Why don’t we feel its rotation effect?

Disclaimer : This topic can contains some complex terms related to Physics, Science but we will try to keep as simple as possible

Why does Earth Rotates?

In order to understand the earth’s rotation, we need to understand how the solar system was formed.

It is a story from the era when the solar system didn’t even exist. There were lots of gases all around that started coming closer and forming masses. You can compare these gases to dust which can flow in the air but also has solid particles in it.

While the process of particles coming closer to each other was in a form of rotation in the anti-clockwise direction. This is due to gravity within the particles themselves and particles were also in motion (Point to Note: Direction of motion does not have any relation with Gravity but rotation has). Slowing and slowing the nearby particle started merging with the bigger particle with higher gravity and started forming the masses. Which eventually turned into something we call planets today.

And Even today the same momentum of rotating particles is continued. The only difference is now we have a bigger mass which is Earth or any other planet.

This gives us an understanding of why Earth Rotates. At this point, your mind might pop up with several questions. Such as why do we rotate around the sun? Don’t worry you can check the FAQ for all such related questions, We have got covered.

Speed of Earth’s Rotation and Why we don’t feel it

Credit: The Cosmic Perspective

The Earth rotates at the speed of 1037 mph (i.e, 1670 km/ph) which is in the range of the fastest commercial flight we ever had Concorde. But if we talk about today’s commercial plane, it usually flies in the range of 500-600 mph which is half the speed of earth rotation. But the strange thing is we don’t feel any effect of such a high speed. Why?

It is because motion always works in relative. Let’s try to understand with examples.

Example 1 : Sitting on a Train

Suppose you are in a train running at a speed of 80 kmph, sitting beside the window and enjoying the outside view. Suddenly you see another train comes to the side track, running at the same speed in the same direction.

What will you feel? For an instance, you will feel that both of the trains are not moving unless you see any third objects. Such as trees, or electric poles passing the view. From your view, the train and you both are still, or someone sitting on the other train might feel the same as you felt. But for a person standing on the ground, both the trains and you are in motion. This is how relative motion works.

So the point to understand is that in order to detect the motion, the view of the observer plays a key role.

Example 2 : Standing in the Bus

Suppose you are standing on the bus without holding any support. What could happen? You will manage to stand without falling or You will fall on the bus.

Why did this happen? It’s because the bus was not running at a constant speed. If Bus would have been running at a constant speed, your speed and bus speed would have been the same. And you would have managed to stand without falling. The problem is when the bus decrease or increases speed, there is a change in your speed and the bus speed.

This is the reason you feel a force when the bus suddenly stops or suddenly accelerates.

Why we don’t feel Earth’s Rotation?

After understanding the above examples we got to know that at any instance of time, we are also rotating at the same speed as the earth. Just like being on a bus where the bus is moving but we are standing. The only difference is that a bus can change its speed at any moment giving us shocks at any moment. But the earth moves at a constant speed. And this is the reason we don’t feel anything.

Fun fact: If you are standing at a place and someone calls, You can say you are moving at a speed of 1037 mph. And you won’t be lying.


We understood why the earth rotates but why does the earth revolve around the sun?

The reason why earth revolves around the sun is the same as why particles were rotated to form a mass. i.e, Gravity. Sun is a lot bigger than any other planet in the solar system, also it has a very high gravitation force. Thus all the planets that rotate around the sun are because of its gravitation force.

What we learned is that gas particles were rotated around the mass forming a planet and eventually got merged in it. Earth will also merge into the sun someday?

No, the earth will never merge into the sun because it has a certain velocity while it revolves in space. The space has no air which means no friction.

So eventually it tries to fall every year but never reaches its destination. In case of planets we can assume that the average speed of particles were around 1037 mph which might be not sufficient for it to resist the gravitation force of the planet.

This is the same concept we use to launch a Satellite around the earth. The speed of a satellite that keeps revolving around the earth is around 17500 mph. So we can assume velocity and various other factors could be the cause why particles got merged forming planets while velocity is the reason why earth or any other planet is not merging into the sun.

Please check out this video on the topic for reference video

How do Earth and other planets keep rotating even after billion of years?

This comes with Newton’s First Law of Motion which says if a body is in any state of rest or motion, it will continue to be in that motion unless external forces act on it. So According to this law, Earth was rotating billion of years back, It is just continuing its motion unless a much bigger force had an impact on Earth.

This law might feel contradictory to our daily life experiences. Like if you throw a ball will it never stops? or drive a car will it never stops? The Answer is it will stop that’s because the earth contains something we call friction. But space has no such friction so any motion will continue its motion.

The Speed of Earth’s rotation is more than an aeroplane’s speed. Then how can we see aeroplanes flying faster than me in the sky?

When the Aeroplane was on the ground it had the same speed as the earth but let’s say the aeroplane flew at 300 mph. That means it flew at the speed of Earth ± 300 mph. +300 mph if it flies in the same direction of the earth’s rotation i.e, West to East or -300 mph if in opposite direction. Since the speed of the earth is not that important for calculation we tend to ignore it.

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