Vanishing moon

Posted: October 29, 2013 in False or true?, Look at the stars
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Any Leiber fan out there? While I’m particularly fond of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser and Conjure Wife, I’ve read other Leiber’s novels, like the Wanderer. That novel in particular, focuses on the arrival of a wandering planet to Earth orbit. On its arrival, it consumes the moon and, hence, releases all kinds of natural disasters on the planet, just like in the beginning of Oblivion, too. Not among my fav novels, but I read recently about the effects of changes in lunar orbit and I kind of recalled the book.

The simulation focus on a different situation: instead of losing the moon, it actually gets way closer to Earth, approximately where the International Space Station is floating. It’s a bit difficult to figure out space scale, but if  Earth was an orange in the middle of your everyday round table, the moon would be a pearl earring just on the table border. The ISS would be almost in contact with the orange, instead. While the video pictures a pretty, giant moon in the sky, it does not address the obvious problem: gravity. Joe Hanson actually explains it well in his blog It’s ok to be smart. The basic idea is that when two large astronomical bodies come together, the pull of gravity and tidal forces eventually warps the less massive one into disintegration. Not to mention that those forces would also ravage the larger planet’s crust into a volcanic nightmare. Back we go to the Wanderer scenario!

Actually, the full effects of not having a moon have already been evaluated and filmed by BBC in the documentary “Do We Really Need the Moon?” that is fully available on Youtube:

Spoilers here: looks like we really do!


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