It’s one of those questions that are simply asked because it would be fun to know what the answer is, whether or not it serves any purpose to do so. What if the Earth Stopped Spinning? Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was asked this question a short while ago and he replied “it would just be a bad day on earth…I’m just sayin”. And boy is he right.
The earth, at the equator, is spinning at a rate of 465 metres per second due east. If you’re familiar with the principle of Inertia (anything that is in a state of motion or rest will resist a change in that state), you should now already know the answer to the question. If the earth were to stop spinning, anything and everything not bolted to the earth would fly off in the eastward direction until it comes to a stop. This includes people, animals, vehicles, ships, seawater etc.
Now, for everything not bolted to the earth, all sorts of natural disasters are in store. Powerful winds would cause storms of unprecedented magnitude and raging fires. Tsunamis, the range of kilometres, would devastate the entire surface of the earth including the poles. And for those diet freaks out there, if you survive this catastrophe to end all catastrophes, you’ll weigh 0.3% more than you do now because the earth’s rotation reduces the overall gravitational pull on your body. Sucks doesn’t it?
What’s interesting is that the earth is actually slowing down little by little every year, so it stands to reason that it will one day come to a stop. But it’ll be millions of years until there is any noticeable effect on the earth’s rotation; so until then, enjoy going for a spin around the earth.