# This is what would happen if the Earth suddenly stopped spinning

The Earth rotates steadily, even if we cannot see or feel it, what would happen if the Earth suddenly stopped spinning? And if the rotation stops, the angular momentum of every object on Earth will tear the surface apart, resulting in a really bad day.

This is just a thought experiment, said James Zimpelman, chief geologist emeritus at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. It's been spinning since its formation, which is impressive.

The Earth rotates completely on its axis every 23 hours 56 minutes 4.09053 seconds. And if the planet stopped abruptly, the angular momentum transmitted to air, water, and even rocks along the equator would continue to move at that speed of 1,100 miles per hour. The motion will sweep away the surface as it tears apart and sends fragments into the upper regions of the atmosphere and outer space.

What is angular momentum?

There is something called linear momentum, which is the product of an object's mass and velocity, as the passenger in a moving car that suddenly stops will continue to move forward due to linear momentum.

Angular momentum is a rotational analog of linear momentum and is a product of the moment of inertia (the rotational force needed to rotate the mass) and angular velocity.

Zimpelman said, One of the fundamentals of physics is the conservation of angular momentum. Once something is spinning, you have to apply the same force [in the opposite direction] to keep it from spinning. The pieces that broke off from the surface would regain some rotation as the Earth and its remnants continued on their path around the sun. Eventually, the planet's gravitational pull will pull the shrapnel's halo back together with an unexpected effect. What Isaac Newton helped us discover using classical mechanics is that pieces that pile up and get close to each other will release some of their energy, heating things up.

Think of it as a meteor streaming across the sky, where remnants that ended up in distant regions of the atmosphere and outer space will be pulled to the surface by the planet's gravitational pull, releasing energy upon impact. The constant bombardment of these bits, Zimpelman said, would turn the crust into an ocean of rock molten. Eventually, the colliding fragments will be sucked into the molten sea through a process called accretion.

Zimpelman said, the rapid and destructive transformation would also evaporate most of the water on the planet's surface. While most of this evaporated water will be lost, some may be incorporated into newly solid minerals, such as olivine. Finally, not all parts will be absorbed by the buildup. Some parts of the planets will be swept away by the moon's gravitational force, bombarding the nearby satellite and creating countless craters across its surface.