What would happen if the earth rotates with the speed of light?

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The earth also rotates on its axis and revolves around the sun, like other planets. Currently, the earth rotates at a high speed of 1,000 miles per hour. Despite this, we don’t feel anything, which means, it doesn’t affect us. But, even a slight change in the rotation speed would affect us.


So, can you imagine, what would happen if this speed will increase to the speed of light? How will it end life on the earth? – The understanding of the relativity and speed of light will help us to understand the destruction that could happen.


Theory of relativity & the speed of light

Theory of relativity

Einstein’s special and general theory of relativity has given a few postulates and mathematically expressed as Lorentz transformations. Einstein stated that the physical quantities like the mass, the energy, the time, and the length vary if we approach the higher speeds in an accelerating frame. He also proposed that the speed of light in a vacuum, the fastest, is the same for all reference frames. 

The speed of light

“The speed of light is the speed at which light waves propagate.” In the vacuum, it is a constant, which is equal to 3 ´ 108 m/s. The electromagnetic radiations and gravitational waves also travel with this speed. An object must have zero rest mass to achieve the speed of light. The relativistic mass (m) will become infinite with zero rest mass. 

Even if the object has mass, the relativistic energy has to be infinity. So, the relativistic mass will also be infinite, in which infinite mass implies that the object is traveling with the speed of light. It is something that Einstein’s mass-energy equivalence says.

If the Earth rotates at the speed of light

Such a drastic change in the rotational speed would definitely lead to catastrophic results. Life would no longer remain, and it would be an end of the earth. The theory of relativity explained some of the things that could happen.

Length Contraction: Earth would seem like a fine line

When an object approaches the speed of light, the original dimensions contracts to a smaller size, called the length contraction. Similarly, the dimensions of the earth would contract to form a disc-like structure with negligible thickness, appear as a thin, single lined structure. 


It doesn’t mean that only earth would affect. All the living and non-living objects, including you and me, would contract like this. For the observer outside the planet, he would see the earth to orbit the sun tangentially, disturbing the geographic conditions. Thus, life on earth will die. 


Time Dilation could affect: The time would freeze

Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity suggested that the time will slow down as an object will approach the speed of light, called the Time Dilation. So, when the earth would reach the speed of light, the relativistic time would be infinite. 

It means that the time would not change, it would stop. Thus, the earth won’t be able to experience the time. Your clocks won’t show you the time. Instead, the time you’re would see on your watch or clock, would remain as it is for the rest of the life. Therefore, the earth will have zero time.


Atmosphere and Environment would vanish

Since the earth’s rotation got affected by the change in the speed, then the atmosphere, the wind, and the geographical distribution. The atmosphere, which rotates with the earth, just like the moon revolves around the sun, would vanish with the high speed. The gases, which surround the earth, would evaporate to space because of the infinite energy release. The atmosphere would no longer remain.


The act of centrifugal force


The centrifugal force is the force that acts on the body when it is rotating or in a circular path with respect to an axis or a center, which throws an object away from the center. The balance between the centrifugal and gravitational force is responsible for our life.

If the rotational speed becomes equal to 3 * 10^8 m/s, then the centrifugal force would be so high, even the gravitational force won’t save us from the impact of this centrifugal force. Everything on this planet, including earth’s crust, would be thrown apart. It would disintegrate, and we would die in space. 


The Energy would reach infinity

The energy of the earth would also become infinite as it attains the speed of light because of the relativistic frame. Thus, the relativistic mass would also be infinity, so that it will be possible for the earth to become a singularity. 

The singularity is a location in the space-time, where a lot of mass is squeezed into a small dimension. It may be possible that this singularity could turn into a black hole, which would absorb the whole universe.  

“In a nutshell, life and biodiversity would end, and there would be no traces of human life. The earth would finish, but we can’t tell, what would happen first?”


Is this possible for the earth to do so?

Well, rotating at the speed of light is not possible for the earth. The earth has to be mass-less to rotate with the speed of light, which is impossible. Since the earth cannot be mass-less, then for its rotation at the speed of light, it has to gain infinite energy, which is again impossible.

“The rotation of the earth at the speed of light is just a hypothetical situation. Practically, it is not possible. We will never have to face such a situation in the future.”

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