Quiz Night: Tidal Locking

A couple of months ago I went to my first quiz night at a popular bar. I performed reasonably well on the sports questions but was not so good when it came to general knowledge, although I always felt I was reasonably competent in this area.

Since then I’ve taken to reading random facts on a variety of subjects, and Wikipedia proved helpful with its Random Article functionality. [I do recommend cross-checking Wikipedia articles with other resources as they may not be entirely factual given that it is user-generated]

Today I came across this feature on Tidal Locking which was pretty interesting. You only ever see one side of the moon all the time because it is tidally locked with Earth. Look closely at the gif on the left and you’ll see this phenomena in operation. Notice how only one side of the moon is always presented to Earth while rotating around it, even though the moon is also rotating on its axis.


I suppose this is how the term “dark side of the moon” originated, since that side is not visible to Earthlings due to tidal locking. For a more in-depth explanation on the physics and mechanics of tidal locking, check out Wikipedia, the YouTube videos available online.

What would happen should the Earth become tidally locked with the sun? Well, in short, we’ll all be fooked as it will wreak havoc with our weather and just about everything else.

3 thoughts on “Quiz Night: Tidal Locking

  1. No need to worry about the earth tidally locking and ‘fooking’ up the weather etc… by the time the earth would lock the sun will have blasted of the atmosphere and burn the earth to a crisp when it swells up to a red giant.

    As for the hypothetical situation however, the weather would actually remarkably predictable.

    It is most likely to lock with ‘land mass side’ (i.e. the pacific facing away). This would cause the ocean to freeze, but probably not solid (In my estimation at most a few hundred meters thick, based on sea currents and air currents distributing energy to the ‘dark’ side).

    Of course, any vegetation based on photosynthesis would not survive, but it would not be impossible to live on such an earth.

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