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Monday 20th October 2014
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How far would I move if I stood still for an hour?

Question

How far would I travel if I stood still for one hour – due to the rotation and orbit of the Earth?
Mark, Chiswick

Answer

** Definitive, but confusing! **
Name: Peter, Dulwich
Qualification: Theoretical guru
Answer: At our latitude, we’re moving at about 500 miles per hour due to the Earth’s rotation or 1,000 at the equator. The Earth moves at 18,000 miles per hour around the sun. But movement is relative, so what is he moving in relation to? His house? His country? The centre of the earth? The sun?
(James O’Brien: I’m only giving you a round of applause because I have no idea what you are talking about!)

** Proper definitive **
Name: Carl, Wimbledon
Qualification: First class degree in physics
Answer: There’s a problem with Peter’s answer – there is one fixed thing in the universe, the cosmic microwave background, from the origin of the big bang and you can measure any movement in the universe against this. Measuring against that, he would have moved 2.3million kilometres in an hour, based on the centre being the CMB.

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