How Long Would It Take To Fall Through Planet Earth?

The human mind is a wondrous thing that leads us to wonder about the most obscure topics, like falling through planet Earth. Not that anyone has or will ever fall through any mysterious hole that may lead from one end of the planet to the other, but if they did, how long would it take? Fortunately, this question has been asked for years, and top minds have worked tirelessly for an answer.

The speed at which someone or something would fall from one end of the planet to another depends on a few factors. However, physicists long thought that the time it would take to reach the other side was 42 minutes, according to an article published by Science. The 42-minute assumption comes from the idea that the Earth has the same density of 5,500 kilograms per cubic feet throughout. While getting from one end of the planet to the other in less than an hour is certainly impressive and terrifying, a new study has concluded that it would actually take even less time to make it to the other side.

The Earth's density plays a major role in the time it takes

A gravity tunnel refers to a fictional tunnel drilled from one end of the Earth to the other. The time it would take to go from one end of the Earth to the other by falling through such a fictional tunnel has been calculated time and time again, always with the same outcome of 42 minutes, according to Live Science. Physicist Alexander Klotz decided to approach the problem from a new angle and decided to calculate the density of the Earth using already captured seismic data. The Earth's surface density is less than 187 pounds per cubic foot, and its center has a density of 811 pounds per cubic foot.

According to Live Science, the density of the Earth has a sharp increase in density around 1,800 miles beneath the surface. Through his research and calculations, Klotz came to the updated conclusion that falling through Earth would take approximately 38 minutes and 11 seconds. It will be a while before anyone is able to put these calculations to the test, as a hole through the Earth has never come close to being achieved. As Klotz said in a quote published by Live Science, "The Soviets tried digging as deep a hole as they could from 1970 to 1989 and only got 12 kilometers [7.5 miles] deep, about 0.1% of the way through the Earth."

If you fell down a gravity tunnel, you may be falling forever

A trip through a gravity tunnel and to another side of the planet in a little over half an hour may sound nice, but this sort of speedy air travel wouldn't be fun. The speed at which you'd be traveling to get to the other side so quickly would be around 17,895 miles per hour (per Live Science). To put it into perspective, most passenger planes fly anywhere between 550 and 600 miles per hour once on their journey, according to Flying Magazine.

Speed isn't the only frightening aspect of a gravity tunnel. As Alexander Klotz said in a quote published by Live Science, "Halfway through the ride, gravity would switch directions, and you'd go from right-side up to upside down. You'd have to grab onto the other end, or else you'd fall back down the way you came." Forever falling back and forth through a hole in the center of the Earth doesn't sound like the best way for anyone to spend their time. So falling from one end of Earth to the other is fast, however not the most efficient form of travel.