科学美国人:You Traveled Far Last Year

60秒科学节目(SSS)是科学美国人网站的一套广播栏目,英文名称:Scientific American - 60 Second Science,节目内容以科学报道为主,节目仅一分钟的时间,主要对当今的科学技术新发展作以简明、通俗的介绍,对于科学的发展如何影响人们的生活环境、健康状况及科学技术,提供了大量简明易懂的阐释。

Happy New Year! And if you’ve been away from work for a few days, you deserve some time off. After all, you’ve traveled far. Even if you just stayed at home. According to NASA, just by being on the planet Earth in the last year, you’ve zipped about 584 million miles around the sun. At an average speed of about 67,000 miles per hour. [Siren sound.] Hey, I wasn’t speeding—in my inertial reference frame.

Of course, the trip was not a perfect circle. As Kepler showed, the earth’s orbit is an ellipse, with the sun at one of the two focal points. He also figured out the planet goes faster when it’s at perihelion, nearer the sun, than when it’s at aphelion, its furthest distance. Which would explain why summer seems to zip by, except that the seasons are a function of the tilt of the earth’s axis, not its different distances from the sun. And the earth rotated 365 and a quarter times during its sweep around the sun. The trip took 8,766 hours. Or 525,960 minutes. Or 31,557,600 seconds. Tick tock.

—Steve Mirsky

(The above text is a transcript of this podcast)

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