I have a very odd coincidence to report.
I like getting fun questions from folks, the kind that take a little bit of math and physics to explain, but wind up taking you to fun places. A common question like that is, "What would happen if everyone in China jumped all at once?" Would it throw the Earth out of orbit? Would it cause an earthquake? Would it do anything?
The answer is, essentially, no. I tackled this a few years back; there was this announcement by a group that wanted to get 600 million people to all jump at once so that the Earth would be pushed farther from the Sun and global warming would be solved.
Um, yeah. They called it World Jump Day, and I made quick work of it. Nothing at all would happen, for lots of reasons. Still, it’s fun to think about, right? And it turns out World Jump Day was something of a prank anyway.
My opinion: science is always better when Felicia Day makes a cameo! And, of course, vsauce is right.
So anyway, I liked the video, and made a note to myself to write it up on the blog here. And then, literally the next day, what happens? My pal Randall Munroe (of xkcd fame) goes and writes about this very topic for his "what if?" series!
Although, to be fair, Randall takes it in a slightly different direction. Still. Weird.
Of course, coincidences happen all the time. It’s a big world out there, with lots of things going on. There’s bound to be the seemingly-spooky overlap or two between ‘em.
And as a final note, if you want to read more about the gnarly math of millions of people jumping, Dot Physics has you covered.
If you read this blog, then you probably already know about xkcd, the web comic by the geektastic Randall Munroe. What you may not know is that Randall really is just that smart, with a keen interest in physics and math. He likes thinking about big-picture stuff, including taking what might seem like silly ideas and running with them to see where they lead.
So I’m really excited to see he’s started a blog called "what if?" He takes crazy questions from readers and answers them, following the logic wherever it may lead.
The inaugural post asked, what if you threw a baseball at very nearly the speed of light? I have seriously thought about this as well, and while I found myself smiling at Randall’s explanation – his thinking followed mine very closely – he took a turn I hadn’t thought about: atoms in the air undergoing nuclear fusion with the baseball. Huh.
The second post, which just went up, is about how well you’d score if you answered SAT questions randomly, and somehow due to Randall’s machinations all the US Presidents and 75% of the the cast of Firefly get electrocuted by lightning.
As usual, this is clever, funny, odd, and just plain cool. You’ll feel smarter – you’ll be smarter – after reading it.