What would happen if the Earth stops rotating

  • If the rotation of Earth stops instantly and due to Newton’s first law of inertia, you would hurtle towards the east at a great speed, dying instantly from the collision.
  • If this process were gradual, “over the course of the year, as the Earth orbits the sun, half of the planet would be at night and half in full light, but half would constantly change throughout the year.” Instead of 24 hours, a day could last months.

Since the 1950s, the phrase “To the world, I want to get off,” as Business Insider explains, has been a constant in culture and society. However, if that wish came true and the Earth stopped spinning overnight, the consequences would be more like a horror movie than any wonderful dream, according to Joseph Levy, a geoscientist.

The Earth, spinning at 1,674 kilometers per hour beneath your feet, makes you feel like everything is moving slowly. But suddenly, the rotation stops, and you find yourself literally being fired. Thanks to Newton’s first law of inertia, you would hurtle towards the east at great speed, assuming death wherever you land.

Furthermore, this sudden change would affect everything from water to trees and buildings. The sudden acceleration would cause the ocean to churn, and everything that rests on land would suffer a major collapse.

However, be careful because this apocalyptic situation would vary near the poles, where the rotation speed is much lower. Here, everything would be less catastrophic, although walking could become impossible.

But what if the Earth stopped spinning very little by little? 

As Joseph Levy explains, a progressive slowdown would not prevent major problems. The days and nights would become very long, with a “day” of six months and an equally long “night.”

As expected, the climatic consequences would be terrifying: crops burned by a constant sun and ice sheets formed during the eternal night.

Although the Earth is currently gradually slowing down due to tidal braking caused by the Moon, completely stopping its rotation is highly unlikely. The magnitude of the Earth’s angular momentum, combined with the Moon’s minimal drag, makes any attempt to significantly slow it down virtually impossible. 

So, for now, calm down, because the wish to be able to stop the world will continue to be just that, a wish—and may it remain that way.

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