In the 2003 Jim Carrey movie "Bruce Almighty," Carrey"s character unexpectedly acquires God-like powers, and uses those strength to lasso the full moon and pull the closer to planet to woo his beloved. Later in the movie, background shots present TV news reports about massive, extraordinary flooding about the world.

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While the film is clearly fantastical, it does progressive a question: What would happen if the moon were twice as close to earth than that is today?

In fact, the flooding scenario from the movie isn"t much from what can actually take place if the moon were suddenly lot closer come Earth, stated Neil Comins, a physicist at the college of Maine. The best-known impact of the moon is that gravitational traction on Earth"s oceans, which results in 2 high tides and also two short tides every day.

But if the moon were fifty percent the street from earth as that is now, the tides would certainly be eight time higher, Comins said Live Science. Part islands would be completely underwater for much of the day, and populated shores would likely come to be uninhabitable because of the high tides, he added.

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But greater ocean tides wouldn"t it is in the only result of a closer moon. The moon also has a tidal impact on Earth"s land, Comins said.

If the moon were unexpectedly twice together close to Earth, the effect would be choose hitting a gong with a mallet, Comins said: waves of power would reverberate through the planet as result of the sudden boosted strength of the moon"s gravitational pull.

And that sudden whack of heaviness "would actually impact the Earth"s crust, which means it can trigger more earthquakes, can trigger much more volcanic eruptions," claimed Jazmin Scarlett, a historical and also social volcanologist at the Queen Mary university of London.


Take, because that example, Jupiter"s moon Io, the most volcanically active world in the solar system, Scarlett said. Io"s volcanism outcomes from the push and pull indigenous the gravity of Jupiter and two that its other moons. Earth could see a similar fate if the moon were suddenly fifty percent as close.

Along through all the suddenly buckling of the planet"s crust, Earth"s turn would sluggish over time. This is because, as the moon"s gravity pulls the oceans, the result friction between the s floor and also water slows Earth"s spin. Today, Earth"s rotation is slowly by around one-thousandth of a second per century, Comins said. If the moon were fifty percent the distance away, Earth"s rotation would slow also more, dragging the end our days and nights.

If us were to survive the suddenly earthquakes, volcano eruptions, lengthening that days and also nights, and higher tides, at the very least we"d get to see more frequent solar eclipses. Due to the fact that the moon would cover a larger area the the sky, it would certainly be more likely to happen in prior of the sunlight from ours perspective, Comins said. We"d also still be able to see the sun"s corona (outer atmosphere) shining approximately the dark silhouette that the moon, yet not together clearly, he added. Otherwise, the moon and also its phases would certainly look about the same, just bigger in the sky.

And what if the moon were to slowly spiral toward Earth, quite than just moving suddenly? The planet"s crust and also tides would shift an ext gradually, hope letting life adjust, Scarlett said. The much longer days and nights could readjust our climate and also drive evolutionary transforms in lot of ways, Scarlett said. Pets would need to adapt come a brighter moon at night. Because that example, prey can have to learn how to hide far better at night, as predators could have much more light when hunting.

While a superpower-bestowing Morgan Freeman won"t be the cause of one Earth-moon shake-up, can anything natural reason the moon come drift closer to Earth?


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This is wild speculation the course, however Comins decided on an answer: "If a sufficiently enormous object pass close to the Earth-moon system, and also the moon was in the right place of the orbit together this point went by, this thing might potentially take power from the moon, and also that would cause it come spiral in closer to us," Comins said.

So it would take a huge asteroid whizzing by planet at the precise right ar at the exact right time to possibly push the moon towards us choose a sphere circling a drain. That course, even if the did happen, it would still take many, numerous years for the moon come get half the street away as it is now, so earth wouldn"t feel the effects right away.

Originally released on Live Science.

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JoAnna Wendel is a freelance science writer life in Portland, Oregon. She mostly covers Earth and also planetary scientific research but additionally loves the ocean, invertebrates, lichen and moss. JoAnna"s job-related has showed up inEos,SmithsonianMagazine, Knowable Magazine, famous Science and more. JoAnna is likewise a scientific research cartoonist and has published comics withGizmodo, NASA, science News because that Studentsand more. She i graduated from the college of Oregon with a level in basic sciences due to the fact that she couldn"t decision on her favourite area that science. In her spare time, JoAnna likes to hike, read, paint, do crossword puzzles and hang out v her cat, Pancake.