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Physics - The Earth in the Making

Six thousand million years ago the Earth was a cloud of dust and gas whirling through empty space. Bit by bit these particles pulled one another together. In time they became bits of ice and frozen gas mixed with rock and metal. The particles then resembled dirty snowflakes.

Time passed and the “snowflakes” began to stick together to make giant “snowballs”. Then it was their turn to stick together. By 4600 million years ago they formed one mighty ball – the planet Earth.

The Earth’s Crust takes place

As the Earth’s ingredients squashed together they gave off immense heat. This melted the inside of the Earth. Its heavy ingredients sank to the centre and the lighter ones rose to the surface. Some floated like a scum and formed a crust. The young crust shook, and leaked molten rock on to a surface that was airless, waterless and baking hot.

Water trapped inside the hot Earth became steam. This, and other hot gases, escaped from the crust to form the Earth’s first atmosphere. As the crust cooled and hardened, rains fell. This great deluge continued for millions of years and slowly the seas filled huge dips in the crust. The continents and oceans began to appear.

The Earth in Space

The Earth is only one of nine planets that loop around a great ball of white-hot gas much larger than themselves. This fiery ball is the star we call the Sun.

The Sun, its planets and their moons form one mighty Solar System. Yet this great group is just a speck among the 100,000 million stars that form the star group that people call the Milky Way Galaxy.

The Sun is the only star near enough to the Earth to affect what happens here. The Sun’s pull, called gravitation, stops the Earth escaping into outer space. The sun’s rays light and warm the Earth. Without them life here would be impossible.

Days, Seasons, Years

The Earth is spinning as it travels. With each spin sunlight and darkness bring day and night. It takes a year for the Earth to orbit the sun.

The Earth is tilted at an angle to the Sun. The seasons change as each half of the Earth tilts towards the Sun, then away. When it is winter in the north, it is summer in the south.

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