What would happen if gravity stopped for 5 seconds?



gravity allowing an astronaut to float in the atmosphere.

As we go about our day, there are numerous things we take for granted; our heart beating, running water, electricity. But, have you ever taken for granted your feet remaining upon the ground?

Earth is rotating at a whopping 1,000 mph, and numerous complex forces combine to create gravity, the force that prevents us from falling away from the earth. But gravity does much more than keeping us tied to our planet. What would happen if it just stopped for 5 seconds? The laws of physics have made it clear that there is no on-off gravity switch, but people haven’t stopped probing the possibility of it.

The earth would still be rotating, considering it’s too big to completely stop its rotation in 5 seconds, but we would be unable to rely on gravity’s anchor. Any person, any dog, any car, or stray shopping cart would turn into a hurdling tumbleweed.

However, just drifting into space wouldn’t be our only worry. Air and water would also lose their attraction to the earth. In fact, Earth’s rivers and lakes would be some of the first things to float off. Even better, such a significant and sudden loss of air pressure would immediately shatter everyone’s inner ear.

And on top of our long-term damage, a loss of oxygen would mean every building and concrete structure would crumble immediately since O2 is an essential binding component. Anything that wasn’t strongly nailed down would meet the same fate.

After the 5 seconds were over, we would all stop our joyride in Earth’s atmosphere, and we’d plummet back down to the soil we left just seconds earlier.

This short hypothetical situation pales in comparison to what would happen if gravity’s loss was prolonged.

Karen Masters, an astronomer who has explored the immediate consequences of completely losing gravity wrote, “Earth itself would most likely break apart into chunks and float off into space.”

Luckily, our people, our pets, and our cars needn’t worry about gravity disappearing anytime soon. It seems, for the time being, we all can sleep safe knowing we’re securely anchored to this blue planet we call home.