The ever-philosophical design house Kurzgesagt explains what would happen in the extremely unlikely event that the Moon crashed into Earth. Despite the verbiage, this event would not be an immediate collision, but rather a slow and catastrophic series of events that would unfold over time.
Today we are answering an age-old very scientific and important question: What if the moon crashes into earth? It’s more interesting and weird than you probably think.
This can occur when the speed at which the Moon moves is changed. This, in turn, affects its orbit.
So for the moon to just stop in its orbit and plummet to the earth would break more laws of physics than we have time to explain. So how do we crash it into earth? In a nutshell, to change an object’s orbit, you need to change its speed, which changes where gravity takes it. But even small changes require enormous forces, which is why all the large objects in the solar system are so stable nowadays.
If the moon’s speed and its orbit change, a series of cataclysmic events would unfold over the course of 12 months, although the occurrences of the last three would wipe out most of humanity.
At this point the apocalypse has arrived and we can summarize the months before the crash as “everybody left has a really bad time”. The tides sweeping over the Earth slow down and then reverse their direction because the moon now orbits earth faster than it rotates. The planet will experience an abundance of earthquakes and volcanism. Massive amounts of volcanic aerosols rise high into the stratosphere, shiny enough to reflect sunlight back into space.
So while this type of event is extremely unlikely, it is interesting, and even a bit crazy to examine.
So how do you calculate that sort of thing? Well, you just need a bit of insanity and some maths.
P.S. Don’t Look Up