Monday, April 4, 2011

This Universe

1.       The earth is a natural greenhouse and is kept warm by water vapors, carbon dioxide (CO2), and other gases in the atmosphere, which absorb the sun’s energy and radiate it back toward the earth. This type of warming is called “natural greenhouse effect.” “Enhanced greenhouse effect,” on the other hand, causes global climate change due to excessive levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.
2.       Without the atmosphere to create a greenhouse-type effect, the average temperature on Earth would be just 5° Fahrenheit (F).
1.       A tsunami is usually caused by an earthquake but can also be caused by a volcanic eruption, landslide, rapid changes in atmospheric pressure, or a meteorite
2.       One of the largest earthquakes in history occurred over 100 miles off the coast of Chile on May 22, 1960. Just 15 minutes after the 9.5 quake, 80-foot waves struck the coast. Fifteen hours later, tsunami waves struck Hawaii and, finally, 22 hours after the earthquake, the tsunami struck Japan—10,000 miles from where the earthquake took place.
3.       While waves generated by wind may travel anywhere from around 2 to 60 miles (3.2 to 97 km) per hour, tsunami waves can travel at speeds of 600 miles (970 km) per hour, the speed of a jet plane.
4.       The Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 killed more than 216,000 people, possibly as many as 283,000. Victims included not only local people but also approximately 9,000 tourists from Australia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. who were spending their Christmas vacations at beach resorts in Southeast Asia
5.       A “mega-tsunami” is a tsunami with extremely high waves and is usually caused by a landslide. A mega-tsunami occurred at Lituya Bay, Alaska, in 1958, creating the tallest tsunami ever recorded at 1,700 feet (534 m) high. Miraculously, only two people died.
6.       When an enormous earthquake hit Lisbon in 1755, the city’s terrified citizens rushed to the shore for safety. They were amazed to see seawater rushing away from the shore. Minutes later, a tsunami arrived. Ninety thousand residents were killed.
7.       Tsunamis can poison fresh-water surface and groundwater systems as well as soil by leaving large amounts of salt behind. Consequently, thousands of people can die of starvation and disease long after the tsunami is gone.
8.       In the Pacific region, nearly 500,000 people have died from tsunamis over the last 2,000 years. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami alone exerted a death toll now estimated at more than 280,000.
9.       Because of its long history of devastating tsunamis, Japan had the most advanced tsunami warning system in the world, which consisted of more than 1,500 seismometers and more than 500 water-level gauges. Japan’s tsunami warning system costs $20 million a year to run.
10.   As of March 25 2011, there have been over 21,911 dead and missing in the Japan tsunami (over 10,000 confirmed dead; 17,440 missing) and 2,755 injured.
11.   The World Bank estimates that rebuilding the tsunami-affected areas of Japan will cost $232 billion and will take at least five years.
12.   The earthquake that caused the 2011 Japan tsunami is the world’s fifth-largest earthquake since 1900. It has been 1,200 years since an earthquake of this magnitude struck the plate boundary of Japan.

1.       Earth, which can be viewed as a metal ball coated with rock, hurtles through space at 66,000 miles (107,000 km) per hour.
2.       The sun’s diameter is about 109 times greater than Earth’s, whereas Earth is just about four times larger in diameter than the moon.
1.       On average, the moon is 238,750 miles (384,400 km) from Earth
2.       When the moon is at its apogee (farthest from Earth), the tides and weather tend to be more predictable. When the moon is at its perigee (closest to Earth), the increased gravitational pull can create larger tides and more unstable weather.
3.       When the moon formed 4.6 billion years ago, it was 14,000 miles (22,530 km) from Earth. Now it’s more than 280,000 miles (450,000 km) away. The moon looked three times larger when it was closer to Earth.
4.       The moon’s diameter is 2,159 miles (3,475 km), roughly four times smaller than Earth’s, which is 7,926 miles (12,756 km).
5.       The moon’s gravity has slowed the speed of Earth’s rotation. Long ago, it was much faster and days were much shorter.
6.       Approximately 49 moons could fit into Earth.
7.       The moon is 400 times smaller than the sun, but it is also 400 times closer to Earth—so from Earth, the moon and the sun look about the same size.
8.       Moonquakes reach a peak roughly every 14 days, which is when the moon is closest to and farthest away from Earth. This is also when the tidal forces produced by Earth’s gravity reach their peak.
9.       The Earth is 81 times heavier than the moon.
10.   The moon has just one-sixth the gravity of Earth. This means that the astronauts' suits that weighed 178 pounds on Earth weighed only about 30 pounds on the moon. The high jump world record is about 8.2 feet (2.5 m)—on the moon, that would be 50 feet (15 m).
11.   Earth rotates 1000 miles per hour. The moon rotates much slower at 10 miles per hour.
12.   The volume of Earth’s moon is the same as the volume of the Pacific Ocean
13.   The gravitational force of the moon in relation to Earth slows Earth’s rotation by about 1.5 milliseconds per century and raises the moon into higher orbit by about 3.8 centimeters or 1.5 inches per year.
14.   A compass would not work on the moon because it has no global magnetic field.
15.   Although a full moon seems bright, it is actually reflecting just 7% of the sun’s rays.
16.   Tidal drag between the moon and Earth eventually would lead Earth to match the speed of the moon. However, before that would happen, the sun would have become a red giant, engulfing and incinerating Earth.
1.       The sun is orbited by nine major planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto (no longer an official planet).
2.       The sun contains 99.85% of the mass in the solar system.
3.       Four million tons of hydrogen are consumed by the sun every second
4.       Approximately every 11 years, the sun reverses its overall magnetic polarity: its north magnetic pole becomes a south pole, and vice versa.
5.       The sun is the closest star to Earth and is 149.60 million kilometers (92.96 million miles) away
6.       At its core, the sun’s temperature is about 15 million degrees Celsius (about 27 million degrees Fahrenheit).
7.       The sun rotates on its axis once every 25.38 Earth days or 609.12 hours.
8.       100,000,000,000 tons of dynamite would have to be detonated every second to match the energy produced by the sun.
9.       A person weighing 150 pounds on Earth would weigh 4,200 pounds on the sun because the sun’s gravity is 28 times that of Earth.
10.   The sun radiates heat and a steady stream of charged particles known as the solar wind, which blows about 280 miles (450 kilometers) per second throughout the solar system.
1.       Insect species account for 950,000 of the two million identified species on Earth.
2.       There are nearly 300,000 different species of plants currently living on Earth
3.       There are nearly 300,000 different species of plants currently living on Earth

World Land Areas and Elevations
land area
sq. km
land area
sq. mi.
of total
land area
Elevation, feet and meters
Mt. Everest, Tibet-Nepal, 29,035 ft.
(8,850 m)1
Dead Sea, Israel-Jordan, 1,349 ft. below sea level (–411 m)
Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, 19,340 ft. (5,895 m)
Lake Assal, Djibouti, 512 ft. below sea level (–156 m)
Vinson Massif, Ellsworth Mts., 16,066 ft.
(4,897 m)
Lowest land point hidden within Bentley Subglacial Trench2
ASIA (includes the
Middle East)
Mt. Everest, Tibet-Nepal, 29,035 ft. (8,850 m)
Dead Sea, Israel-Jordan, 1,349 ft. below sea level (–411 m)
(includes Oceania)
Mt. Kosciusko, Australia, 7,310 ft. (2,228 m)
Lake Eyre, Australia, 52 ft. below sea level (–12 m)
EUROPE (the Ural Mountains in Russia form the boundary between Europe and Asia)
Mt. Elbrus, Russia/Georgia, 18,510 ft. (5,642 m)
Caspian Sea, Russia/Kazakhstan 92 ft. below sea level (–28 m)

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