On Agents of SHIELD Season 5 the Earth is shattered but somehow still holds lakes or oceans and plant life and still has an atmosphere.

Is this scientifically or theoretically plausible/possible and if so how?


closed as off-topic by rek, sphennings, StephenG, Andon, Vylix Jan 21 '18 at 3:52

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question does not appear to be about worldbuilding, within the scope defined in the help center." – sphennings, StephenG, Andon
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ If you want to know how it is done in the Agents of Shield show, then you should ask on SFF.SE. If you want to know how it might work in the real world, you need to better define how you want it to work. How big are the fragments? How big are the lakes/oceans? How much atmosphere do you need? How are you using them in your story? What time scale? How was the Earth shattered? $\endgroup$ – Brythan Jan 21 '18 at 0:54
  • $\begingroup$ I did ask them and they put me on hold as being off topic and told me to ask here... So... yeah.. a bit awkward now huh.... $\endgroup$ – TheIcePhoenix Jan 21 '18 at 3:57
  • $\begingroup$ If you reword the question to better define the conditions you should be fine, assume we have not watched the show. Although keep in mind planets don't shatter they melt and flow, our planet is not rigid but more like a ball of near molten taffy. $\endgroup$ – John Jan 22 '18 at 0:30

As the number of pieces increase and the distance between the pieces increase the plausibility decreases.

The wonderful thing about science fiction is that if the fiction is good enough the science can be almost irrelevant. Such is the fundamental case in Agents of Shield (where there's a whole lot more fantasy than there is science fiction... but there isn't that much difference between a Wand of Lightning Bolt and a taser anyway).

So, let's cut the world in half and separate it by one foot. We do it slowly so the atmosphere and oceans are sucked in and we magically hold the world's guts together. Two perfect half-spheres, atmosphere and water to nearly the center (get far enough in and the gravity is zero), and little or no atmosphere or water (other than lakes and locked seas) at the surface 'cause it was all sucked in. Now, let everything go...

  • The earth's core area (basically the inner 2/3s or more) is under tremendous pressure, so it starts filling the gaps and pushing the two sides apart. It's also pushing the atmosphere and water (now super-heated water vapor) out. We'll likely loose some atmosphere and water to space, but most will stick around thanks to gravity.

  • Gravity is also pulling to two halves back together, so eventually the two forces come to an equilibrium. Probably after some of it gushed out between the two halves in a spectacular example of what happens if you put too much jelly in your PB&J.

  • Everybody's likely dead from the concusive force of the air/water vapor being pushed out. But there's likely to be a good-sized "whomp!" when the two halves "come back together," even after the inner guts have spilled out. So everybody's dead.

But, in the end, the earth is stable, more-or-less in the same shape as before, etc. We're all dead, of course....

But, push those two halves further apart and the solution becomes more and more grim. Eventually there isn't enough centralized gravity to keep the two pieces together (a very rough almost meaninless guess is about 100,000 miles).

But that's not as fun as what they did on AofS where there were a lot of pieces. Unfortunately, the more pieces there are, the easier it is NOT to keep everything together. You wouldn't need to spread the Earth out too far (say, 2,000 miles) where all the chunks are flying around enough to start spreading out into a new asteroid belt. Gravity might eventually keep it all together, but if it happens at all, it'll take a while.

So, what AofS did was fake. Fake, fake, fake... but if the explosion was small enough such that it only pushed the planet out to, say, another 100 miles it's original radius... then yes, everything would stay the way they were...

Except for the concussive shock that blew the world apart to begin with. A shock that big, even one that "only" pushed the world apart by 100 miles, would destroy everything, level mountains, throw water everywhere... No, you wouldn't be sitting in your barcalounger sipping diet creame soda while you watchied pieces moving buy. The destruction would be catastrophic on a biblical scale. But, looking at the grand scheme of things, the world would come back together in more-or-less the same shape as before, IMHO. At least it would in a really good movie.

This is a convenient edit to assist with Nathaniel's DV

  • $\begingroup$ I disagree on the first part. Pull the two halves a foot apart and they'll fall back together before an appreciable amount of air or water goes down the hole. I think you would get a lot of earthquakes but quite survivable. $\endgroup$ – Loren Pechtel Jan 21 '18 at 20:22
  • $\begingroup$ @LorenPechtel, read my answer again. I'm slowly pulling them apart until the air & water has filled the interior. It's merely a device to set up the first explanation, which has nothing to do with how you pull a world apart. $\endgroup$ – JBH Jan 22 '18 at 5:36
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, I wasn't picturing a delay, just pulling them apart and releasing. $\endgroup$ – Loren Pechtel Jan 23 '18 at 2:19
  • $\begingroup$ A few corrections: (1) if you could magically hold the two halves of the Earth a foot apart and allow water in, it would reduce the depth of the oceans by less than a foot before it got filled up, and no air would get in. (2) no matter how far apart the pieces are, gravity will always pull them back together. The only way this would not happen is if the Earth's rate of spin were increased so they were orbiting one another. It's how fast they're moving that matters, not how far away they are. You are quite correct that we would all die in any of these scenarios, however. $\endgroup$ – Nathaniel May 26 '18 at 2:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Nathaniel, edit performed... (2) Gravity operates by the inverse-square law, so there most certainly is a distance after which the two halves will be affected more by all other gravity sources than upon each other. How far would depend on the position, e.g., of the other planets. (1) You're right, about 39,000 cubic kilometers vs. 1.3 billion cubic kilometers. I didn't bother to do the math as it wasn't the point I was making, but it was just a bit of an error. :-) $\endgroup$ – JBH May 26 '18 at 3:48

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