The Environment

How Long Would It Take To Fall Through The Centre Of The Earth?

We definitely did not expect this!

How long would it take to fall through the centre of the Earth? It’s a question we often asked ourselves when we were youngsters digging giant sand holes on British beaches, trying to tunnel our way through to New Zealand or China or the universe from ‘The Northern Lights‘ by Philip Pullman – our geography wasn’t strictly factual.

It’s a question we definitely don’t still ask ourselves now when we wake up every morning and stare into the gaping abyss that is another day in modern society.

*Ahem.* Focus.

Seriously though, it’s an interesting question, and on the way to finding the answer to it from the awesome video below, we also found out that ‘Antipodes Maps’ are a thing. Antipodes of any place on Earth are the points diametrically opposite it – so the place you would arrive at if you were able to dig a giant, perfectly straight tunnel through the centre of the earth.

We suspect you’d come out to something like this, though we’d be impressed if you made it this far… Photo: iStock

This awesome map tool shows you what the other side of the Earth is to you, wherever you are on the globe (turns out we weren’t a million miles off with New Zealand, just a few hundred/thousand).

But we digress. Assuming we did indeed dig that beach tunnel so deep that it got past the murky sand water without collapsing, transcended the core of the Earth and came out somewhere in the Pacific Ocean on the other side, and we managed to somehow make it through without drowning, how long would it take us to get there?

The video below tells us exactly that, though it does make some concessions. It assumes that the Earth has the same density all over and is a perfectly symmetrical sphere, and that the hole has no air in it, because “otherwise the air resistance would cause you to reach terminal velocity meaning your speed would eventually plateau”.

Of course, gravity will pull you faster and faster towards the centre of the Earth, but what happens when you go past the core and to the other side?

That means that falling through the centre of the Earth would be quicker than:

  • Cooking a baked potato
  • Covering a distance of 500m in a London bus
  • Doing laundry
  • Researching the history of 19th century hospital furniture on Google
  • Watching “Grease 2”
  • Waiting in the queue for a Burrito shop on lunch
  • Eating 115 Jaffa Cakes

Just to name a few.

42 minutes?! Surprising, right?

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