Reminds me of the old shaggy dog stories, one of a set whose punch line was:

michael swanson(45): “That’s gorgeous! I want rings! Quick somebody blow up the Moon!”

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Phil doesn’t pronounce “kilometer” correctly, why should he care about kph?

Wait, am I having deja vu? I've seen this and the article about inventions that never became popular in 1931 before... or I can predict the future of reddit articles.

That would be an amazing but weird plot for a Bond villain.

Also, I would assume that the effects of the rings’ brightness would be less at the equator than further away, thus, equatorial areas would probably see an exceptionally large number of observatories. Mountain tops near the equator would be ideal observation spots.

Travis might be interested in the article:,Cost of non-metrication in the USA, that you can find at http://www.metricationmatters.com/docs/CostOfNonMetrication.pdf

I’d love to see a sim of the rings and the moon. IMHO, the moon would cause some wild deviations in the rings, possibly raining a good portion down on Earth and sending an equal amount out into space. In the end, no rings (your theories may vary…).

wheres the super sciencey spoiler guy who comes in and says something like "rings only occur in larger size planets so expect to weigh like 12000 lbs"

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Nitpicky, yes, but considering all the othe effort put in...

“It casts shadows… hey! We just solved global warming! Quick! Construct a ring around the Earth!”

LOL. Amusing. As one who grew up in the USA, I am all for the metric system, except for the fact that it’s not the least bit intuitive, whatsoever. The only exception being, of course, for the liter. More precisely, “2 liters” is an intuitive measure, being the size of the big bottle of soda.

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You don’t have to change the *size* of things, just what you call it.

“The organization estimates there are also millions of much smaller objects floating around, and all of it combined weighs about 5,500 tons.” Thats less than two loaded jumbo jets.

I still wish it were a moon like Titan though, but that's just me.

Love the blog, by the way. I first learned of Phil through Skepticality, which I have listened to from episode 1.

We have an atmosphere that can easily eat/destroy/bounce off/vaporize those small rocks.

we would see these rings everywhere in our sky. it would b nice 2 watch em all nite from ur balcony

We'll start with Washington, D.C. and work our way southward.

Then we wouldn't see them like that. Hardly at all. Cool though.

If Earth had rings

@MarkW: *EVIL GRIN* You forget Nemesis, that lonely wanderer of the Oort Cloud that periodically sends comets inwards, to trigger the ejection of masses from Jupiter to become Venus.

Nice to see you using metric, though. I suppose that is a scientist thing, considering that the rest of the science community on the planet uses metric.

The direction toward the apex of the rings in the sky is always the direction to the equator (hence south in the northern hemisphere, and north in the southern hemisphere). The only places that would not work would be at the poles (where you would not see the rings at all) and the equator (where they are seen as a straight line curving across the bowl of the sky from due east to due west).

This is a very cool idea, and it went viral pretty quickly when it came out a few weeks ago. And of course I’m for anything that increases people’s interest in astronomy.

Now, I'm no expert, but I think we should watching for the Flood.

I got it too, it's the same uncomfortable feeling I get when I see those "if other planets were our moon" videos and Saturn & Jupiter show up

In fact, we are sort of creating a ring system right now, made up of space junk! We’d have to keep doing that for centuries though before it becomes visible to the naked eye of course, and it’s not actually a desirable thing to do.

It is absolutely possible that we would have never evolved, and that would be a different thought experiment. What organisms might evolve because of the rings? Back to humans. To have a thought experiment about how it would change human culture, you have to presuppose that we did, in fact, evolve in this alternate world.

I'm sure that both the world in general and human culture in particular would have been very different to the way they are now.

I wonder if such rings would end up inhibiting the development astronomy/spaceflight by interfering with ground-based observation, or actually promoting it by providing a complex, nearby system of objects to study and inspire interest.

Any one of these scenarios could have produced a ring around the earth. It hardly matters, since wondering what our planet would look like with a ring is really just an exercise in imagination.

“Nice to see you using metric, though. I suppose that is a scientist thing, considering that the rest of the science community on the planet uses metric.”

Yeah, this is an example of what Saturn's ring would look like around earth. Bad title.

SI base units: m = meter. Prefix k = 10^3. And the SI base unit of time is s (second). (Abbreviations for “mile” have been poorly defined.)

Nonsense! As you said yourself, the proper abbreviation for “thousands” is “t”, not “k”. “kph” therefor translates to kiloparsec hours. This, of course, is the unit used to measure the velocity of the Millennium Falcon.

What blasphemy have you to say of the Great Rift of the Pharaohs?