As kids, we used to play all sorts of games. Some of them were silly, some were creative, and many would make absolutely no sense whatsoever to our adult minds. I remember one game in particular that involved jumping, and while I can’t recall the exact rules of the game, I vividly remember that kids used to stand in a circle, holding each other’s hands and jumping together (I am sure there must have been a particular reason for this, but I have no idea what it is). The one who did not jump at exactly the same time as the others would be disqualified.
As we grow, these activities seem a bit too strange to perform, particularly in a public place. However, think for a moment about what would happen if all the humans on Earth played this game at the same time? What if everyone stood close together and jumped at precisely the same instant.
Too Large a Task
As of now, almost 7.35 billion people live on the planet Earth. When you look at that figure, it’s just a number, right? So why is it such a big deal? Well, if we’re talking about making all the people on the planet stand next to each other, jamming into each other so that the entire gathering forms a solid chunk of populace, it would be madness. That would require convincing every one of them to stand together and jump at the same time; needless to say, organizing the manpower along would make the whole endeavor improbable – if not downright impossible!
Assuming that all 7.35 billion human beings stood next to each other, (without any qualms, obviously), an area of 500 square miles (approximately 1300 square kilometers) would be entirely filled with people That means a compact area equivalent to the size of Los Angeles!
But What If?
Now that we have assumed the possibility of convincing everyone to stand together and making them jump simultaneously, let’s come to the real question. What would happen if everyone jumped together?
In short… nothing.
I know that sounds pretty disappointing following that build-up and all that talk about a Los Angeles-sized chunk of humans, but that’s simply the reality. 7 billion people is an impressive number, but we’re talking about affecting an entire planet! Let me explain….
Although it might seem quite dramatic if every human being on Earth jumped at the same time, meaning that all human mass would be leaving the Earth momentarily, but the Earth won’t even notice. You might be amazed to know that even that much mass is nothing in comparison to the mass of the planet we call home.
Still, if you want to get some kind of answer, I can tell you that this type of simultaneous jumping will move the planet an infinitesimally small amount. In fact, the movement would be so small that you wouldn’t even realize that it moved at all. The distance of the planet’s movement would be less than the width of the most basic atom (hydrogen) and furthermore, when everyone landed back on the ground, Earth would return to the same place. This means that by the time anyone took a calculation after landing on their feet, they wouldn’t be able to detect any difference from the way things were before.
Did You Know…?
The Sun is getting hotter every single day. In fact, in the next billion years or so, it will be so hot that Earth will be unable to sustain life as we know it. Therefore, there has been talk about ‘moving’ Earth a little further from the sun, but few are taking those ideas seriously. Again, such an endeavor would be too complicated, and yes, far too expensive.
It would require roughly 1 billion 11-ton rockets to change the velocity of Earth! Even with that much force, how much would the velocity truly change? By 20 nanometers per second, and just to let you know, a strand of human hair is almost 80,000 nanometers wide. Doesn’t seem so realistic now, does it?
Therefore, next time you get together with a bunch of your friends, convince them to jump at precisely the same moment. You certainly won’t knock the Earth off its axis, but don’t forget to take a seismograph with you, just in case you land really hard.
- Everybody Jump – What If? (xkcd.com)
- How Stuff Works
- What Would Happen If Everyone Jumped At Once? – Mental Floss