5 mind-blowing facts about Earth – video

Planet Earth is a weird and wonderful place full of millions and millions of crazy lifeforms, phenomenons and – of course – mind-blowing facts. For example, did you know that Hawaii moves 7.5cm every year, or that 20% of Earth’s oxygen is produced by the Amazon rainforest? How about that in 2.3 billion years, the Sun will engulf the planet, making it impossible for life to exist here? Discover the science behind these mind-blowing facts and more in our latest video…

5 mind-blowing facts about Earth

1. The Eiffel Tower is 15 cm taller in the summer

When a substance is heated up, its particles move more and it takes up a larger volume – this is known as thermal expansion. Although this effect is most dramatic in gases, it can occur in liquids and solids too. For this reason large structures such as the Eiffel Tower are built with expansion joints which allow them to expand and contract without causing any damage. But while the Eiffel Tower shoots up by about 15cm in the summer, no-one would ever notice it… except possibly it’s grandparents.

2. 20% of Earth’s oxygen is produced by the Amazon rainforest

Most of us “living organisms” rather selfishly need oxygen to survive. Thankfully, our trusty plant minions continually replenish the planet’s oxygen levels through a process called photosynthesis. Covering 2.1 million square miles of the Earth’s surface, the Amazon rainforest cycles a significant proportion of the Earth’s oxygen, absorbing large quantities of carbon dioxide at the same time. Thanks rainforest!

3. Hawaii moves 7.5cm closer to Alaska every year

No. Hawaii isn’t being a creep like that guy who sits next to me on the bus every morning. Unlike him, Hawaii’s awkward shifting towards Alaska is caused by the movement of tectonic plates. These plates are in constant motion, propelled by currents caused by rising and sinking rock beneath them. Hawaii sits in the middle of the Pacific Plate, which is slowly drifting north-west towards the North American Plate, back to Alaska. Although this seems dramatic, the plates’ pace is roughly the same speed at which our fingernails grow.

4. If you removed the empty space between our atoms, the human race could fit in the volume of a sugar cube

The atoms that make up the world around us seem solid, but are in fact over 99.99999 per cent empty space. An atom consists of a tiny, dense nucleus surrounded by a cloud of electrons, spread over a proportionately vast area. Electrons act like waves and can only exist where the crests and troughs of these waves add up correctly. And instead of existing in one point, each electron’s location is spread over a range of probabilities – an orbital. They thus occupy a huge amount of space. Make sense? That’s right.. a sugar cube

5. In 2.3 billion years it will be too hot for life to exist on Earth

Over the coming hundreds of millions of years, the Sun will continue to get progressively brighter and hotter. In just over 2 billion years, temperatures will be high enough to evaporate our oceans, turning the planet into a vast desert similar to Mars today. As it expands into a red giant in the following few billion years, scientists predict that the Sun will finally engulf Earth altogether, making life here impossible and spelling the definite end for our planet.

For more amazing facts, make sure you pick up the latest copy of How It Works. It’s available from all good retailers, or you can order it online from the ImagineShop. If you have a tablet or smartphone, you can also download the digital version onto your iOS or Android device. To make sure you never miss an issue of How It Works magazine, make sure you subscribe today!

Plus, take a look at:

Why do men have nipples? (and 9 other questions about the human body)

The science of colour – 5 questions answered 

Can sunlight make you sneeze?