Is it possible for a planet, such as Mars, to develop a liveable atmosphere on its own? What would it take?

Amazon Echo “Alexa” bloopers

My wife and I own one of these critters, called the Amazon Echo.

It’s been a great addition to our household. We have, for example, much more music in our home than ever before.amazonecho

However, Alexa, as you address her, is far from perfect. Here’s some Echo “Alexa” bloopers! Try it at home if you don’t believe me!

Q: “Alexa, is a frog a toad?” A: “No, a frog is not a toad.” Q: “Alexa, is a toad a frog?” A: “No, a toad is not a frog.” Q: “Alexa, what is a toad?” A: “Toad is a common name for a frog…” Q: “Alexa, is a toad the same thing as a frog?” A: “I’m still learning how to answer frog questions.”

Q: “Alexa, are you smart?” A: “I try my best.” Q: “Alexa, I love you.” A: “That’s really nice, thanks.” Q: “Alexa, fuck you.” A: nothing.

If a hole is made right through Earth so it reaches the other side, what will happen when one jumps into it?

I rather liked the idea of lava spewing out of the hole, but I’m just going to take the question on merit and assume you really could drill a hole through the earth and jumped inside.

Would you pop up the other side? (Assuming, of course, the other side wasn’t under the ocean! Ooops.)

No. First, wind resistance would slow you down and you’d not get anywhere near the other side.

Second, you’d hit the side of the hole and die not long after jumping in because of the rotation of Earth.

How come an orange inside the ISS just floats in the air? We know gravity keeps the Moon in orbit. Why is there no gravity on the ISS?

This is an image of Newton’s Canon. Given a high enough elevation, shooting a canon-ball at increasing velocity will cause it to travel further and further until it just goes into orbit, falling around the earth.

That is what’s happening inside the ISS. It’s called free-fall – the same as Newton’s canon-ball.

The ISS is falling toward the earth. The only reason it doesn’t crash to the ground as it falls is because it’s also moving horizontally so fast that as it falls, the earth curves away and they just keep missing, again and again, around and around. That’s called an orbit.

This is why we don’t say the astronauts on the ISS are weightless. We say they are in microgravity.

As an example, let’s say you get into an elevator at the top of the tallest building in the world, and the elevator drops in free fall. Fun! You would fall at the same speed as the elevator and to an observer you’d appear to be weightless. In fact, if you held an orange, it would appear to float out of your hand.

That would end tragically, however, when the elevator hit the ground. Not fun anymore!

That tragic end doesn’t happen to the ISS because the ground just curves away under them and they keep missing Earth! Inside, however, the oranges float around and the astronauts float because the ISS and everything inside it is falling at exactly the same rate.

Therefore there is gravity up there – almost the same gravity that we experience on the ground. If the spaceship could stop moving forward and just hover somehow (it can’t) then everybody would be able to walk around just like we do here on Earth. It’s only because the ISS is in free-fall around the earth that the people and things inside appear to float.

What country would be equal in size to the area of the moon?

The moon has 14.6 million mi². The earth, meanwhile, is 70.8% covered with water. What sticks out of the water covers 57.5 million mi². This means there’s only 3.9 times more land on Earth than on the moon. The moon takes up more than 1/3 of the landmass of Earth above water!

Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

No country in the world is as big as the landmass on the moon.

The closest you might come is the biggest country: Russia, with 6.6 million mi², less than half the area of the moon.

Here’s what the landmass of Earth might look like if we stuck it all together.

Would you say it’s a miracle that earth developed in just the right way in order for us to exist? Or Is it even more miraculous that humans could adapt and become the masters of this planet?

If not miraculous, then pretty darn incredibly fortunate for us.

So far, as we study our planet and the places we either visit directly or send our robots to, we haven’t found any other place with life on it. Finding life on another planet would be great. It would prove it wasn’t a “miracle” for life to develop, but just an inevitable developmental cycle of a planet with just the right conditions.

This is one of the main goals of all space research right now – to disprove the miracle theory.

So it might be called semantics, a miracle, or natural evolution of the universe? You tell me! Scientists would say not.

Have they reclassified Pluto as a planet?

No, Pluto has not been reclassified as a planet and as long as Eris is out there, bigger than Pluto, it will have to remain a dwarf planet, Captain Kirk.

The discovery of Eris was a main reason why Pluto was “declassified.” Otherwise, how many planets are we going to have to claim exist? Is Eris the 10th planet, bigger than Pluto? Did you know that Charon, Pluto’s moon, is so big that Pluto and Charon orbit each other? The center of gravity is outside the sphere of Pluto itself. Pluto is about the same size as our moon.