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Published:April 13th, 2016 12:08 EST
Falling Through the Center of the Earth? LA to Japan in Forty-Two Minutes

Falling Through the Center of the Earth? LA to Japan in Forty-Two Minutes

By Ron G Anselm

"Flying across the tracks of a roller coaster at your favorite amusement park and then hitting the first drop at a G-Force greater than the wind speed at the center of a hurricane, free falling off your roof top into a mountain of snow or bungee cord jumping off the side of a cliff are an adrenaline rush times ten of anything you have ever felt, or is it? What about if you suddenly feel through the center of the Earth from pole to pole? And how long would it take you to reach the other side of the world?"

Believe it or not this has been a big question posing to most Physics students for many years and it has been studied not physically but on paper and with many late night burning the midnight oil college students at schools around the world. And they have actually come up with an answer to this long awaited brain teaser " "forty-two minutes. Wow! About as long as it takes me to drive to work one-way actually would take me to fall through the center of the Earth say from the United States to China and at a one-way ticket.

So, let`s look at this answer from a Science Geeks point of view, first there are two aspects to this answer. The first answer was it would take forty-two minutes to fall from pole to pole and that`s just free falling without any type of propulsion.

The second aspect to this answer is you would not have to fall straight through from the old saying, The shortest distance between two-points is a straight line. " You could dig a zig zagged tunnels with more twists and turns than a daytime Soap Opera and as long as long as it is far enough to make local variations trivial the travel time from point A (United States) to point B China in forty-two minutes. So, if you left here at say breakfast time you could still make Beijing, China to enjoy that first morning cup of tea with our oriental buddies.

So, not to spoil the fin but let`s get back to reality and look at this from a normal everyday persons point of view. As we know there is no mechanical drilling equipment that could drill completely through the center of the Earth and even if there were and you zoomed through the Earth like an Grandma driving in the fast lane you would more than likely burn-up with the intense heat at the core toastier than curling-up near the fire place on a colds winters night with your pooch snuggles curling-up next to you but it was a fun thought to think about while it lasted.

Some people have thought about digging tunnels from city to city. So, if you could dig a tunnel from Los Angeles to New York City you could ride the waves in LA at the beach and slide down to New York City to catch a Broadway show all in the same night. The concept of this thought was to dig large tunnels from city to city, suck all the air out of those tunnels, take cars and vehicles and let them free fall through the tunnel at speeds faster than a Formula One Dragster taking off the starting gate and once those vehicles reach the mid-point of the tunnel, begin to gradually slow down as the gravity on the other side pulls them back.

Not really too crazy of an idea, I guess this is something that could be done; heck there have been loonier things that have recently happened like Bruce Jenner`s feminine side coming out of the closet "literally.

So, all this above trivia and data is fun and interesting but the American Journal of Physics has published further data disproving the theory that it would take forty-two minutes to fall through the center of the Earth and even that anyone ever could.

They have published the hypothesis of Alexander Klotz of McGill University. Klotz has started with the common observation that the Earth is not uniformly dense. Aside from local variations in gravity, used to detect mineral deposits and track groundwater, the core is many times denser than the mantle or crust. (Klotz, A.)

Klotz has studied this further and has gone where no Physics geek has ever gone before and has disproved the theory that it would take forty-two minutes to fall from pole to pole through the center of the Earth, he has reduced the travel time to now thirty-eight minutes. The factor in the difference of time, the gravitational pull at the center of the Earth.

"If one went right through the center of the planet, pole to pole for example, it would take just 38 minutes, reflecting the greater gravitational pull towards the center. On the other hand, 42 minutes remains a good estimate of the time required to get between two close points. The time taken to fall along a straight line between any two points is no longer independent of distance but interpolates between "42" min for short trips and "38" min for long trips," Klotz observed. (Klotz, A.)

Klotz also proved that if we are speaking in terms not throwing a straight punch in Karate or taking a short trip to the grocery store that if we are speaking in terms of scientific data and the hypothesis of falling through the center of the Earth that yes, the shortest path between two distances if not necessarily the quickest but that if falling through the Earth the fastest journey between two non-opposite spots on the surface will be one that tends to reach a greater maximum depth. (Klotz, A.)

This is good to know if you are trying to get from Los Angeles to Japan and cannot spare the extra four minutes.


Luntz, Stephen, 2015, How Long Would It Take To Fall through the Center of the Earth?

( Retrieved April 2016.