On our hypothetical journey, we’ve already tested out living on a flat Earth, a cubical Earth, even a hollow Earth. What do you say we try to survive on an Earth with a giant hole in the middle?
Would a planet like this even have a chance of being habitable? Would it still have the Moon? How would gravity work? And what would the view be like on an Earth like this?
Planetarily speaking, size matters, and so does shape. This is what mathematicians would call a toroidal world, or a torus planet. To me, it’s an Earth shaped like a sweet, fried, ring-shaped, pastry.
Whatever you call this Earth, theoretically, it’s not impossible. Planets don’t naturally form in the shape of a donut.
But the laws of physics do allow for such worlds to exist. It just wouldn’t be Earth as you know it.
Okay, I’m just messing with you here. It wouldn’t kill anyone to evolve on a donut-shaped Earth, unless it had a shape more like a hula hoop.
Having a center that is so much larger than the physically solid portion of Earth would result in some very unstable conditions. See what I mean? Disastrous.
Let’s focus on a planet that looks like a traditional donut, and closely mimics our own Earth. This donut-shaped Earth would have a similar position relative to the Sun, and the same axial tilt.
It would even have a similar escape velocity of 11.4 km/s (7.1 mps) for most of the planet. At the donut’s equator, the escape velocity would go down to just 6.5 km/s (4 mps). So if you were to send rockets into space, that would be the best place to break free of the gravitational clutches of a donut-shaped Earth.
Speaking of gravity, depending on where you were on a torus Earth, you’d weigh up to three times less than you usually do. If our round Earth has surface gravity of 1 G, the surface gravity of a donut Earth along the poles would be 0.65 G. At the equator, the gravity would go down to just 0.3 G. It would be like walking on the surface of Mars.
Even though the donut-shaped Earth’s gravity would be lower than what you’re used to, it would still be constantly trying to collapse the planet in on itself. To fight the urge to become a sphere-shaped Earth, a donut Earth would have to spin much faster than our round Earth does. That way, centrifugal forces would kick in and keep the donut hole intact.
But because of this quick rotation, a day on Earth would only last 2 hours and 50 minutes. Or, if you prefer to stick to a traditional 24-hour day, you’d be dealing with at least eight sunrises and sunsets every day.
You’d have to adapt to working day and night, and sleeping through hours of daylight. But it would be much worse for the animals that are synced to the patterns of the Moon and the Sun to breed, migrate and hunt. By the way, what would happen to the Moon?
The good news is, we’d still have it. Most likely, it would be pulled towards the hole, and bob up and down in the middle of the planet. Or, it could be affected by the gravity of the donut’s outer edges, and create a figure eight orbit around Earth.
The bad news is, either of these orbits would affect the tides on Earth, and wreak a little havoc. Oceans could have such unstable water levels that having coastal cities might not be a thing.
The overall climate on donut Earth would be similar to what we currently have on our round Earth. It would be colder in the polar regions, and warmer at the equator. But the weather would be a little more extreme, and could even make some parts of the planet inhospitable, due to storms and hurricanes.
It’s hard to predict where the countries would be located on a torus planet. But as far as topography goes, most likely, the donut hole would be lined with mountains. And they could be substantially larger than anything we have on Earth right now.
If you wanted to live on the inner edge of a donut-shaped Earth, you’d be enjoying this view. Unlike in some WHAT IF scenarios, life wouldn’t come to an end in this one.
Humans of a donut Earth might never cross the ocean. They’d evolve separately, on different continents. But at least there would be no mass extinction, and no areas of the planet would become too extreme for us to survive.
Donut-Earthers might, or might not, have the tools and tech we have today. They might not even stumble onto the concept of a donut in the first place. Or, they could be making videos like “What if the Earth was shaped like a ball?”
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