Lumpy Bumpy Humpty Dumpty

earth

When I think of Earth, I think of a perfect, brilliant, blue sphere with whorls of white clouds and green/brown land masses.  After all, I am not completely ignorant of my global geography and my immediate astronomy.  I know what my planet looks like.  I’ve seen photos and images of our home planet ever since I was old enough to pick up a book.  Stunning full-color photo splashes on huge coffee table picture books show what the view from above the world looks like—bright and shining, beautiful to behold, and full of nostalgia.  Surely a wondrous place I would be proud to call my home.

Why would I not trust those astronauts who went out into space to show me what my Earth looks like from above?  Why would I not trust with my own eyes, photographs that were taken from satellites circling around us twenty-four hours a day, nonstop?

earth2

Well, phooey on me.

I certainly din’t expect it to look like this.

potatoheadEarth

Back in 2011, the European Space Agency’s Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) released an image of the Earth that was created using what is called a geoid, which is a representation of the planet created by measuring how gravity affects the shape of Earth.

The surface of the geoid is farther away from the center of the Earth where the gravity is weaker, and nearer where it is stronger. The differences in gravity, and hence the scalar potential field, arise from the uneven distribution of the density of matter in the earth.  ~  Wikipedia [1]

Since the areas that are raised and bumpy do not show the true shape of the continents, it was not immediately recognizable to me what part of Earth I was looking at.  To minimize confusion, I labeled Viet Nam, China, and Australia to orient myself to the new geography of the geoid map.  What the colors show amazed me.  There is a deep indigo hole off the coast of India and a huge bulge on one end of the Antarctic.  The Pacific Rim is one huge bulge which shows that the most dense areas lie off the coastlines and towards the center of the Pacific, with a notable exception of Australia, where the entire continent is part of the denseness.

As indicated by the map, where gravity is lower than expected in certain areas, blue patches are shown.  Where gravity is higher than expected,  red and yellow areas.  Gravity affects the Earth by shifting sea levels, and that’s how the lumps and bumps manifest themselves.  I have always thought that sea level would be zero where the ocean meets the land.  Apparently, I am an oxymoron because I am not factoring in the displacement of water due to fluctuating gravitational strength, depending on where I am standing on Earth, not to mention the wind action and effects of the tides (from the moon’s influence).

Why would this matter to us?  Well, I for one, would like to own one of those handy-dandy self-driving cars in the near future, and the only way that a car can drive itself is if it knows where it is on the geographic map.  In comes our handy dandy GPS (Global Positioning System) to pinpoint with as accurately as possible, our location on Earth (and here is where the hilarity comes in of directing someone into a lake or out into the ocean).  Without factoring in the various gravitational fluctuations, GPS is off by a magnitude of many many degrees.  Once the brainy folks figured that out, GPS became much more reliable and navigation became far less adventurous.

While this is quite interesting, you should know me by now.  This kind of information, while obviously very important to car drivers, doesn’t make me sit up and go Whooooaaaa!!!  It would not be of such interest to me unless there was something else my brain was incessantly picking and worrying at, like some rat with a tangled ball of twine.  What’s the big deal that the Earth is a lumpy, bumpy, Humpty Dumpty?

My answer is ‘anti-gravity’.

Girlred

According to NASA’s website on geoid Earth:

Gravity anomalies are often due to unusual concentrations of mass in a region. For example, the presence of mountain ranges will usually cause the gravitational force to be more than it would be on a featureless planet — positive gravity anomaly. Conversely, the presence of ocean trenches or even the depression of the landmass that was caused by the presence of glaciers millennia ago can cause negative gravity anomalies. ~ NASA [2]

My brain is trying to accommodate the idea that the surface of the deepest ocean in the world (Pacific Ocean) is also the most dense and has the most gravitational affectations.  I would expect mountains to have a higher gravitational pull than the bottom of the deepest ocean on Earth, but the Earth is telling me that this is not so.  What it is telling me is that something under the Pacific Ocean is causing more intense gravitational force than level land; conversely, something under the Indian Ocean is causing less gravity (even negative gravity anomalies) than level land.  Why?

So I shut my noisy blathering brain down and I listen carefully to what the Earth’s geological structures are trying to tell me, and she’s saying that there are HUGE mountains under the Pacific Ocean as well as a huge trench right under the Indian Ocean, where there is a dark indigo spot located.  It looks as if something is cancelling out gravity at that point—perhaps a leakage of some type of anti-matter bubbling upward through the ocean floor.  Its source must originate from some internal planetary singular (tiny black hole?).

I am not sure.  Research on anti-matter and whether or not it has anti-gravity properties is still in its infancy, but I am following the research with much interest.  Imagine the possibilities if we can definitively tie the two together!

1.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoid

2.  http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/GRACE/page3.php

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4 thoughts on “Lumpy Bumpy Humpty Dumpty

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  2. You are too kind. 🙂 I truly appreciate your thoughtful response. I guess I’m not really trying very hard to get lots of readers because my problem is two-fold. I love to write critically and creatively but 1) I don’t have a target audience and 2) I don’t specialize in any subject area.

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