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From the highest mountain tops...
June 10, 2010 9:44 AM   Subscribe

Our amazing planet. I could study this all day.
posted by Melismata (70 comments total) 76 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is really, really cool. There also seems to be more and more jpg artifacts the further down you scroll. I hope it's a geeky deep sea compression joke.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 9:53 AM on June 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I fail pretty badly on questions of scale. My perception of how things relate to each other is just all kinds of screwed up. So scrolling down this graphic, as opposed to just hitting the space bar, completely blew my mind. I will totally forgive the meh graphics because HOLY CRAP THE OCEAN IS HUGE AND TERRIFYING.
posted by lilac girl at 9:55 AM on June 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


And of course all of that is just the tiny outer crust (the gray part).
posted by DU at 9:59 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is fantastic. South Pole 2,800 metres above sea level. Who knew? Apart from the people who know, of course. Apart from them I mean.

And why Lhasa, not La Paz? La Paz is higher. And Potosi in Bolivia, higher still.
posted by jontyjago at 9:59 AM on June 10, 2010


Maybe there is some good eating at the bottom?
posted by rosswald at 10:00 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


FACT: It takes -4.39 minutes for a sperm whale to boil an egg.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:06 AM on June 10, 2010 [26 favorites]


The idea of those deep sea trenches frightens me.
posted by marxchivist at 10:07 AM on June 10, 2010


is anyone else kind of tired of these big ass infographic images? They're all over digg and reddit all the time, and they all look the same.
posted by empath at 10:07 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


is anyone else kind of tired of these big ass infographic images?

Not me.

Wish I could get this one as a wall poster.
posted by bearwife at 10:09 AM on June 10, 2010 [10 favorites]


empath: Not exactly tired of them, just tired of seeing the Internet as a gigantic trivia machine :-)
posted by circular at 10:10 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Who knew?

I knew! I am a nut for Antarctica, though.

This is a cool post. Thanks!
posted by rtha at 10:12 AM on June 10, 2010


That is fascinating; thanks! Although bit of a buzzkill to see the drilling depth before the spill. Ugh. Inspires me to conserve energy more, though.
posted by theredpen at 10:15 AM on June 10, 2010


Nice! Although I guess I've been reading XKCD too much, because I expected there to be a cat near the top of this.
posted by FishBike at 10:18 AM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


So, Ani DiFranco sings: "From the depth of the pacific / To the height of Everest / And still the world is smoother / Than a shiny ball-bearing."

Does anyone know if that's actually true?
posted by The Bellman at 10:19 AM on June 10, 2010


How would we know if it's true? It doesn't seem to mean anything.
posted by proj at 10:22 AM on June 10, 2010


I really appreciated this. I'd read about the Mariana trench before but that graphic helped drive home just how OH MY GOD frightening it is.
posted by Nattie at 10:23 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


The bellman: Here is a splash of words comparing he Earth's smoothness to a billiard's ball. That should at least give you some perspective on the thoughts...
posted by kitsy at 10:26 AM on June 10, 2010


Those poor Fangtooth fish, just hanging out minding their own business, 14,000 feet down in the murky darkness, completely unaware that up above - the world of Lady Gaga.
posted by davebush at 10:27 AM on June 10, 2010 [10 favorites]


I was JUST about to post about the billiard ball thing!

Here's the one I found anyway!

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2008/09/08/ten-things-you-dont-know-about-the-earth/
posted by orme at 10:28 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like this. A minor nitpick: the bottom of the Grand Canyon isn't 6,000 feet below sea level—just 6,000 feet below the rim, which actually runs about 7,000-9,000 feet above sea level. Poor old Colorado River has enough to contend with without having to flow uphill!
posted by cirripede at 10:29 AM on June 10, 2010


Maybe there is some good eating at the bottom?

According to the link, that includes special snowflakes! Awesome!
posted by Melismata at 10:29 AM on June 10, 2010


Mom! Deep Sea Giant Isopod is lookin at me.
posted by Babblesort at 10:31 AM on June 10, 2010


I was wondering if this graphic started out as a way to just show the depth of the Deepwater Horizon rig's well, but then the artist got really into it and started adding all this other stuff.
posted by orme at 10:33 AM on June 10, 2010 [11 favorites]


There are vultures that can fly at 36,000 feet. Whoa!
posted by schmod at 10:33 AM on June 10, 2010


is anyone else kind of tired of these big ass infographic images?

Oh infographics, I wish I could quit you.
posted by cashman at 10:33 AM on June 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


There seems to be some artifacting at 3,500 feet below sea level. Probably due to the pressure.
posted by graventy at 10:35 AM on June 10, 2010


Those poor Fangtooth fish, just hanging out minding their own business, 14,000 feet down in the murky darkness, completely unaware that up above - the world of Lady Gaga.

When you put it that way, I kinda envy the little buggers...
posted by hell toupee at 10:37 AM on June 10, 2010


The thought of giant creatures gliding through the ocean's "midnight zones" is making me feel like Calvin and Hobbes running indoors from the night sky and turning on all the lights.
posted by Beardman at 10:38 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had no idea that airliners (and vultures!) hang out just a few thousand feet higher than Everest.
posted by swift at 10:39 AM on June 10, 2010


Thanks, kitse and orme. That's just what I was looking for! Now if only I knew the tolerances for ball bearings I would have the answer to a question I don't know why I need the answer to.
posted by The Bellman at 10:39 AM on June 10, 2010


This is awesome. Sharks can dive down to 7,000 feet? It's pretty crazy they can handle that kind of pressure.

Also, hopefully I don't spoil it for anyone, but I was blown away to see there had been a manned mission to the bottom of the marianas. Anyone have good info on it?
posted by heathkit at 10:41 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Anyone have good info on it?

Trieste
posted by D_I at 10:45 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I saw this yesterday and ended up spending quite a bit reading about the Trieste Bathyscaphe which reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench. What blows me away about that is that the oceanic crust is only 5-10 km deep. They went over 10 km. I assume the crust is a bit deeper there and that they weren't actually down to the mantle, but wow - they were damn close.

I do wish they had shown the actual height of the world's tallest buildings above sea level rather than from the ground, but still - really cool graphic.
posted by Dojie at 10:45 AM on June 10, 2010


Jinks
posted by Dojie at 10:46 AM on June 10, 2010


the Trieste Bathyscaphe which reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench

What blows me away is that one of the windows cracked at 9000M but they kept going.
posted by Zed at 10:49 AM on June 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


Very cool indeed. I just finished reading Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything" and the book is like a long version of this kind of info. Although I'm interested in knowing how long it would take to boil an egg on the floor of the Mariana Trench.
posted by phirleh at 10:50 AM on June 10, 2010


Love.
posted by millipede at 10:59 AM on June 10, 2010


Q: How long does it take to boil an egg at the bottom of the Mariana Trench?
A: The things that dwell in the deep places of the earth have no time for eggs.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:08 AM on June 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Amazing. I actually have a hard time looking at the bottom fourth of it - it's making me feel claustrophobic.
posted by jbickers at 11:11 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]




A minor nitpick: the bottom of the Grand Canyon isn't 6,000 feet below sea level

Thank you! The lowest point on land is actually the shore of the Dead Sea at -1371 ft, a mere fraction of what they suggest the depth of the Grand Canyon is.
posted by valkyryn at 11:28 AM on June 10, 2010


That "Breath-hold dive record" is astonishing.

250m (700ft) down (to 20 atmosphere pressure) and then back up again in one breath?
Wow.

And I was proud of swimming a 50m pool in one gasp.
posted by vectr at 11:31 AM on June 10, 2010


Amazing. I actually have a hard time looking at the bottom fourth of it - it's making me feel claustrophobic.

Me too. My anxiety levels were spiking as it got more and more narrow. But I won't go past the line in a swimming pool where my feet won't touch the bottom anymore either, so let's just say I have some issues with deep water.
posted by chiababe at 11:48 AM on June 10, 2010


Fangtooths smoke pipes, wear cardigans, read a lot of Hermann Hesse.

Although I'm interested in knowing how long it would take to boil an egg on the floor of the Mariana Trench.

In his house at R'lyeh, dread Cthulhu waits 2 minutes for a soft-boiled.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:02 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hang on a second -- this whole thing is 70,000 feet? That's about 13 miles...the length of my daily commute. That is really really weird to me.
posted by drinkcoffee at 12:08 PM on June 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


How would we know if it's true? It doesn't seem to mean anything.

Well, of course it does. From the human-scale perspective, the range from the highest highs to the lowest lows is extreme and almost beyond understanding. But in the planet-scale perspective (nevermind the universe-scale perspective) these extremes are a variance so subtle that they are, in the planet-scale perspective, even more subtle than the surface variations of a ball bearing from a human-scale perspective. She's a songwriter making a comment about how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things.
posted by davejay at 12:34 PM on June 10, 2010


Oh, and we'd know it was true by comparing the extremes of surface variance on a ball bearing to the total diameter of a ball bearing, and doing the same thing for the earth. You know, math.
posted by davejay at 12:35 PM on June 10, 2010


Although I'm interested in knowing how long it would take to boil an egg on the floor of the Mariana Trench.

The infographic shows the pressure at that depth is 1,100 atmospheres. The critical pressure of water is only 218 atmospheres, so above that pressure, water doesn't boil. It is a supercritical fluid that just gets gradually less dense the more you heat it, without ever having a state change from liquid to gas. If the water won't boil at all, can you really boil an egg in it?
posted by FishBike at 12:35 PM on June 10, 2010


I actually have a hard time looking at the bottom fourth of it - it's making me feel claustrophobic.

Yeah, it reminds me of reading Kendall Walton's demonstration that engaging in simple imaginative make-believe can induce real fear:

Imagine going on a spelunking expedition. You lower yourself into a hole in the ground and enter a dank, winding passageway. After a couple of bends there is absolute pitch darkness. You light the carbide lamp on your helmet and continue. The passage narrows. You squeeze between the walls. After a while you have to stoop, and then crawl on your hands and knees. On and on, for hours, twisting and turning and descending. Your companion, following behind you, began the trip with enthusiasm and confidence; in fact she talked you into it. But you notice an increasingly nervous edge in her voice. Eventually, the ceiling gets too low even for crawling; you wriggle on your belly. Even so, there isn't room for the pack on your back. You slip it off, reach back, and tie it to your foot; then continue, dragging the pack behind you. The passage bends sharply to the left, as it descends further. You contort your body, adjusting the angles of your shoulders and pelvis, and squeeze around and down. Now your companion is really panicked. Your lamp flickers a few times, then goes out. Absolute pitch darkness. You fumble with the mechanism . . .
posted by Beardman at 12:36 PM on June 10, 2010 [5 favorites]


If the water won't boil at all, can you really boil an egg in it?

Well sure you can. The whole point of boiling an egg isn't the turning-of-water-into-vapor part, it's the immersing the egg in 100C part; the boiling is just a convenient clamp on the temperature to keep it from increasing without bound. As long as you used a closed-loop temperature control I don't see why you couldn't bring 1100 atm water to 100C and hold it there for 2 minutes.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:46 PM on June 10, 2010


(And of course at 1100 atm no egg shell is going to remain intact but I don't think that's what the line of argument was about.)
posted by Rhomboid at 12:48 PM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


“That's about 13 miles...the length of my daily commute. That is really really weird to me.”
Yeah. This is great. People should go skydiving. Scuba. And get a real perspective of what their vertical limits are.
Just looks big because we’re all so habituated to and focused on the horizontal. Every time I pass one of the coal fired plants I think “we have just 5 miles of living space.” Lhasa is barely over 2 miles up according to this.
Puts a real perspective on how fragile and small a living space we actually have. There’s no such thing as ‘away’ really, just ‘downstream.’
posted by Smedleyman at 12:57 PM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is great.
posted by Theta States at 12:58 PM on June 10, 2010


I kept thinking I would scroll to the bottom and there'd be a photo of a gigantic, blind fish with fangs that lives 35,000 feet deep. But no, it was just humans in a submersible.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 1:01 PM on June 10, 2010


The whole point of boiling an egg isn't the turning-of-water-into-vapor part, it's the immersing the egg in 100C part;

Well, I suspect this comes down to an argument of definitions. Of course you can cook an egg at such obscene water pressures, but I say you have not "boiled" it unless it is immersed in water that is actually boiling. What we are discussing here would not qualify as a boiled egg, merely a supercritical water poached egg.
posted by FishBike at 1:02 PM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


What blows me away about that is that the oceanic crust is only 5-10 km deep. They went over 10 km. I assume the crust is a bit deeper there and that they weren't actually down to the mantle, but wow - they were damn close.
-Dojie


Not exactly. It sounds like you're imagining the crust as being a single layer/band and the trench as being a hole cutting down through it toward the mantle, like digging through a layer of topsoil in the garden. That's not the case. Instead, the crust is made up of separate sections (tectonic plates) which move around and can slide under and over each other, and sometimes run into each other and wrinkle up like two rugs being pushed together.

Deep-sea features are reflections of these plate interactions. The Marianas Trench is a "subduction zone" where one plate is sliding under another. When a plate slides under, its leading edge slowly droops down into the mantle and is melted. The melted material can then mix with the mantle, or rise up through whatever is over top of it (the plate that slid over top of it) causing volcanoes above.

See the diagrams of subduction zones (which coincide with deep sea trenches) and other plate tectonic processes.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:10 PM on June 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Many people's methods for making boiled eggs involve never actually boiling water. For example one popular method is to heat the water up until close to boiling and then take it off heat, covered, and let it sit with the latent heat of the water doing the cooking. You could never tell the difference between these and traditional boiled eggs, except for the fact that they're less likely to be overcooked and have a nasty green slime.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:15 PM on June 10, 2010


What I like is that in the Abyssalpelagic Zone, one can find The Abyssal Plains which sounds like a darkambient song by Coil or Lustmord, or considering light has never penetrated that far the beginning of a minimalist horror story.
Also, at the very very bottom of the Mariana Trench, the amount of water that is on top of you exerts a pressure of 15,750 pounds per square inch which is.. well ... a lot. I still can't believe that the Trieste went dwon that far under those pressures and didn't crush like an egg under an elephant.
posted by Zack_Replica at 1:18 PM on June 10, 2010


You know, math.
Like this: The oblateness of the Earth is about 1/298. Scaled to a radius of 1mm, that means that the Earth would deviate from spherical by about 3.3µm. The roughness of the surface (average distance from peak to valley) is probably well under a mile— it's an average after all— let's call it half a mile, which, scaled to 1mm radius, is about 0.13µm. Compare that to ABMA ball-bearing grades. That puts the Earth at around ABMA grade 100 / DIN grade IV, right at the edge of what would be considered a "precision" ball bearing.
posted by hattifattener at 1:42 PM on June 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


People should go skydiving. Scuba.

(imagining a continuous sport by which a skydiver touches water and immediately begins deepwater scuba dive)
posted by iamck at 1:46 PM on June 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


For those that find the extremely dark depths of the ocean interesting, might I recommend the novel Starfish by Peter Watts?
posted by Vulpyne at 1:49 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


RE: Eggs, and the boiling there of.

Don't forget, one of the main reasons that eggs cook at different speeds at different altitudes is because WATER BOILS AT DIFFERENT TEMPERATURES. (ahem).

In space (3Kelvin) water will boil. That is insufficient to cook an egg (You'll NEVER cook an egg in a vaccuum without directed radiant energy).

According to Wolfram Alpha, 11000 atmospheres = 329134inHg. Then using this caculator, we see that water boils at 354.158 degrees Celcius at that pressure. Slightly below the critical point.

Of course this is all a gross misuse of science (badly calculated). Enjoy your eggs!
posted by blue_beetle at 3:05 PM on June 10, 2010


I'll leave it up to you to figure out how quickly an egg would cook at 354C.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:06 PM on June 10, 2010


Uh, firstly the pressure is 1100 atm not 11,000 atm. Secondly, that calculator is full of shit because 1100 atm (=111.5 MPa) is far above the 22.06 MPa critical point of water, as you can see on the phase diagram which means it will never be vapor at that pressure just like FishBike said.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:53 PM on June 10, 2010


Maybe it's obvious, and that's why nobody has said anything, but re: boiling the egg

ONLY ON METAFILTER
posted by seagull.apollo at 5:46 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


What blows me away about that is that the oceanic crust is only 5-10 km deep. They went over 10 km. I assume the crust is a bit deeper there and that they weren't actually down to the mantle, but wow - they were damn close.

LobsterMitten has explained subduction zones, and of course what would happen to the mantle, if somehow exposed, is that it would turn rather quickly into igneous rock.

Anyway, you would likely be interested in Project Mohole[mefi], which was planned to reach the Mohorovičić discontinuity; a Soviet counterpart remains the deepest hole ever drilled, and would pass through the bottom of the infographic.
posted by dhartung at 7:47 PM on June 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


LobsterMitten has explained subduction zones, and of course what would happen to the mantle, if somehow exposed, is that it would turn rather quickly into igneous rock.

It's also worth mentioning that the mantle isn't the churning sea of fire that many people imagine—it's just rock of different chemical composition, and if you go down far enough, it "flows" a bit more easily than the cool, brittle rock at the surface. In fact, the top 100-200km of the mantle is considered part of the brittle lithosphere, along with the crust. So, every tectonic disaster movie ever notwithstanding, when the earth opens up to swallow us whole we won't die in pits of molten magma—it's just boring ol' peridotite!
posted by cirripede at 10:02 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


What I find scary is how the "much less vertical distance than you think" thing also applies to space. According to a few back-of-the-envelope calculations, if you could drive your car vertically upwards at 60mph, you could get to the International Space Station in a little over three and a half hours.

(Works the other way to show the really long distances of space as well, of course...you'd be driving constantly for about five and a half months before you got to the Moon.)
posted by ZsigE at 5:35 AM on June 11, 2010


Are we there yet?
posted by sneebler at 5:52 AM on June 11, 2010


Did anyone else get really nervous going really deep down into the ocean? I felt... well, I felt like I was going deep under the water and everything was closing in on me. I've never felt that claustrophobic on the internet before. The sign of an effective infographic!
posted by rubah at 9:42 PM on June 12, 2010


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