Going off of this question, What would happen to the Earth if Gravity disappeared?, if an area of 1,000,000 cubic miles (as in, at the epicenter the area of effect will reach into the earth 50 miles, and into the air 50 miles, and spread on the ground 50 miles in each cardinal direction), with the epicenter at the south pole, lost it's gravity for even a few seconds there would be a massive explosion that would rip out the matter in the Earth and send it into the air as well as cycle huge amounts of air that would significantly disrupt the local weather.

My question is, what would the lasting effects be (assuming the gravity disruption no longer existed after a few seconds to a few minutes)? How would this affect the global climate? Would it accelerate global warming? What would happen to not only the oceans around Antarctica but the oceans around the world? Would it even impact them at all?

  • $\begingroup$ I can't answer a full question, so I'll just comment: it seems to me that losing gravity over an area would cause the atmosphere at that location to vent into space and basically act as if you removed the plug from the bottom of a full bathtub. Ever see that scene in Space Balls where the planet's atmosphere is "opened" and the air rushes out? Like that, but worse. Also, do you not mean "square miles"? $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Nov 28 '15 at 0:06
  • $\begingroup$ No, cubic miles, as in it reaches in to the air 50 miles and into the earth 50 miles. $\endgroup$ – TaylorAllred Nov 28 '15 at 0:13
  • $\begingroup$ Gotcha, you may want to specify that in an edit, because, for myself, I imaged that area being above ground, and thus, for all intents and purposes, leading into outer space, at which point an "outer limit" no longer matters. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Nov 28 '15 at 0:20
  • $\begingroup$ Firstly, a sphere with a radius of 50mi does not have a volume of 100mi^3. Secondly, if a specific area lost gravity like that for a second, it would not cause massive explosions or massive changes to the weather patterns. Furthermore, gravity really can't just 'stop' for a second for a specific area since Gravity is almost exclusively a function of interacting masses. $\endgroup$ – iAdjunct Nov 28 '15 at 2:48
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    $\begingroup$ Your last point has nothing to do with the question, obviously gravity can't just stop on it's own, however, this question is building off of the linked one, which has a device that is the cause of the gravity being negated. It doesn't matter how it's being negated, it doesn't matter why, the question is about the after effects. $\endgroup$ – TaylorAllred Nov 28 '15 at 3:19

Essentially you just triggered a massive volcanic eruption in Antarctica. The air and debris blasted out would fall back down so there will be no significant losses there. The explosion and resulting volcanic activity will melt large portions of the ice on Antarctica, although looking at Iceland will show that volcanos and ice can co-exist.

Depending on the size of the eruption global effects could range from nothing to a full on volcanic winter dropping temperatures by several degrees and impacting crops around the world.

So really you can let it have as big or as small an effect as you want it to have.

To add more detail - and keep in mind that we have no idea how a "null gravity" area would actually work so this is just one possibility.

The question described the bubble of null gravity descending underground by 50 miles. The crust even under a continent is 20 to 30 miles thick. That means that you have a 100 mile across area of crust that is now weightless, under that you have high pressure liquid rock that is normally held down by that crust. The high pressure liquid will try to "squirt" out as all the rest of the weight of the crust pushes it down, forcing the rock to bulge outwards at the center. Tensile strength of rock (especially considering multiple layers, existing fault lines, etc) is unlikely to be enough to stop it from then starting to split apart along those lines.

So you now get the situation where the crust in that area is propelled upwards through the null gravity area, propelled by a jet of liquid magma. That will then spread out and as it leaves the null gravity area start to fall back down to earth. How high it will go depends a lot on how long the null area remains and how much everything gets accelerated before gravity starts to apply again.

The mixing of the snow and ice with the magma will also have some interested pyrotechnics but is unlikely to be as dramatic as 100 miles of crust breaking apart and flying towards the sky propelled by a jet of molten rock 50 miles across.

(Note that this entire process violates all sorts of energy conservation laws which is one of the problems with null gravity).

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you so much for the answer. Looks like I need to make the AOE much bigger if I want some actual damage around the Earth. $\endgroup$ – TaylorAllred Nov 30 '15 at 20:02
  • $\begingroup$ I wonder... is there enough pressure pushing up from below to cause the ice to explode upward? I can see a lot of the surface ice and snow going with the intense wind, but would the mass and inertia of the ice be enough to hold it in place for a few seconds until gravity returned? $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Nov 30 '15 at 20:57
  • $\begingroup$ I've no way to prove it but it's held in equilibrium now. That suggests that removing gravity will cause pressure to accelerate everything upwards at 9.8m/s2 . a few seconds would be an earthquake but a few minutes would be huge. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Nov 30 '15 at 22:22
  • $\begingroup$ If you put a glass of water on a table and put a bubble of null gravity around it (not reverse gravity) then the law of inertia suggests that it would stay put unless some outside force acted on it. Air currents in the room would begin to affect the glass, but the water would stay in place, shielded from the currents and held together with surface tension. In the question, the air would definitely rush to fill the lower pressure area at the top of the null area, drawing more air into the void taking a lot of stuff with it, but unless there's a large amount of positive pressure below the ice... $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Dec 1 '15 at 15:21
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    $\begingroup$ Hmm, I'm sure the question said up to 2 minutes in one of the earlier edits although no time to check now. Basically you're right. The time for which this condition lasts will make a huge difference and without some fairly heavy duty modelling we have no way to know how long the "critical time" is.. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Dec 2 '15 at 16:08

The biggest thing would be the storms caused by extreme low pressures.

First off, because of the depressurization the temperature is going to drop way down. This would be cold even for Antarctica, where -49°C is the average. Because all the air going up and out, a lot of air is going to be pulled in from up north (which is everywhere, when you're at the south pole).

Warmer air with lots of moisture. It would lead to a super storm, which would cause issues in a lot of the southern hemisphere, and probably weird weather in general all over...

How bad it all would be depends on how long the gravity was off and a lot of other factors, which I don't really have the math for.

Weather is weird.

  • $\begingroup$ why would zero gravity cause low pressure? $\endgroup$ – Burki Dec 2 '15 at 13:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Burki The atmosphere is kept close to the ground by gravity. The higher you go, the less atmospheric pressure there is. If you removed the gravity from a cube, the air would be dense near the ground, and close to vacuum near the top of the cube, and so the air near the ground would attempt to fill the vacuum since there is nothing holding it down. There's nothing to hold it in either, so after accelerating up into the vacuum, it would keep going out the top of the cube. Some would escape to space, and some would be pulled back by to earth. The air outside the cube would be pulled in and out $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Dec 2 '15 at 14:18
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, that sounds plausible. But i think in the scenario given, the massive volcanic eruption resulting from the loss of gravitational pressure on the matle shoud outweigh that by a lot, should it not? after all, it is a short-timed effect $\endgroup$ – Burki Dec 2 '15 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Burki Tim B has a really good point about that, but I'm not completely convinced it would all explode instantly if the gravity is only off for a couple seconds. There is a lot of pressure, but there is also a lot of solid rock and ice that would have tensile strength despite gravity. I can see earth quakes and some volcanic activity where things started to give, but not a crater 100 miles across. Air on the other hand is light, and would move very fast. If the gravity was off a lot longer then yeah, volcano's galore. $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Dec 2 '15 at 14:31

All of the apocalyptic things like superstorms and volcanic eruptions aside, it would be a great place to produce perpetual energy. Consider a ball spinning in a vertical plane with the upward motion inside the anomaly, and downward motion outside. The work done by gravity will speed up the ball during the downward path, and no energy is spent as work against gravity in the upward path. This is a very simple example. More efficient ways of power generation can be made using this sudden discontinuity in the gravitational field.


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