08/04/2005: A day for the physics-challenged...
as Dave Palmer put it on the SKEPTIC mailing list. World Jump Day is July 26, 2006 at 11:39:13 GMT (I know, Greenwich Mean Time is so, like, obsolete, but that's what it says on the website so that's what I'm using).
The idea is that if they can get 600,000,000
freaking, brain-damaged idiots participants to all jump in unison at the appropriate time, the shock of 600,000,000 people landing on the earth will jar the earth into a new orbit. This, according to the website, will somehow "stop global warming, extend daytime hours, and create a more homogenous climate."
Actually, Cecil Adams already addressed this issue (sorta; the question posed to Cecil was "If every man, woman, and child in China each stood on a chair [Note: for analytic purposes, jumping off the ground and climbing on a chair is "equivalent" --LRC], and everyone jumped off their chair at exactly the same time, would the earth be thrown off its axis?", but that's close enough for our purposes). Cecil's answer:
The possibility of an actual test thus being remote, I have been forced to rely on my considerable powers of inductive logic, to wit: given the principle that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, when the Chinese get up on their chairs, they would essentially be pushing the earth down in the process of elevating themselves. Then, when they jumped off, the earth would simultaneously spring back, attracted by the gravitational mass of one billion airborne Chinese persons, with the result that the Chinese and the earth would meet somewhere in the middle, if you follow me. The upshot of this is that action and reaction would cancel each other out and the earth would remain securely in orbit.So I suggest that, on World Jump Day, you just ignore the jumpers. However, if you want to heap oodles of quite deserved abuse on them, be my guest.
Just for fun, however--after you've been doing this job for a while you get a pretty bizarre notion of what constitutes a good time--suppose 1,000,000,000 Chinese, give or take 27,000,000, were somehow to materialize atop chairs without their having to elevate themselves thereto. And suppose they jumped off.
Having performed astonishing feats of mathematical acrobatics (requiring the entire afternoon, I might note--sometimes I can't believe the crap I spend my time on), I calculate that the resultant thud in aggregate would be the equivalent of 500 tons of TNT. Not bad, but nowhere near enough to dislocate the earth, which weighs 6 sextillion, 588 quintillion short tons.
Len on 08.04.05 @ 09:33 PM CST