The average person may feel that they know a fair amount about the basics of the planet we all live on. For instance, we know the Earth’s shape and what it revolves around along with the other planets in our solar system. But there is one question about this planet scientists have struggled to answer: how much does it weigh? This is a question that has been answered before, but that has only more recently been determined down to a more specific, accurate figure.
Educated guesses made by researchers have put the blue planet at 13.17 septillion pounds. This number comes from a measurement that’s a bit shakey, however, as it is based on the planet’s gravity, rather than an actual measurement of mass. Measuring how the Earth distrubutes its mass has also been attempted, primarily by measuring how seismic waves move through it. Unfortunately, these estimations are also imprecise.
Looking to come up with something more accurate, researchers from an institute in Spain have devised a new method.
These researchers have taken to a detector that finds ultralight particles called neutrinos. These are light particles that pass freely through most objects. When passing through the Earth, however, some of them collide with its mass. Researchers studied the number of neutrinos that did not make it out of the planet and were essentially able to figure out the Earth’s mass by studying the shadows of the neutrinos.
The result was a measurement of about 13 septillion pounds.
Scientists have lauded this new technique as helpful to the study of our planet. One scientist, Véronique Van Elewyck, an astrophysicist at the Laboratoire Astroparticule et Cosmologie at Paris Diderot University in France, spoke of the work as potentially important for scientists in the future who might attempt to probe the interior of the Earth.
This scientist made it clear, however, that at this time the most important implication of this method’s success is just that and not anything in particular about the Earth’s interior.
A Nod To Our Predecessors
The weight and mass of the Earth are figures that humans have pondered for years. While the use of neutrinos has now made measuring this more accurate, it is worth noting that scientists of the past such as Newton gave us a pretty decent method some years ago. This method utilizes the gravitational attraction all objects have to one another.
With the formula F = G(M1*M2/R2), one can figure out an approximate weight of Earth. Not bad for someone without all of the fancy technology of today, right?
With continuously improving research and scientific methods, the answers to what might seem like the simplest questions about our planets are becoming more and more accurate and plausible to solve. So if you ever wonder something like, “how heavy is the Earth?” think of all of the great researchers both current and who have come before us who have devised clever and useful techniques for solving our planets most interesting riddles.