blue berry

We know what we know today because someday someone asked a question that no one could give an answer to and then the quest to find that answer began.

Essentially, the entire humankind has evolved intellectually on the basis of one question at a time. It's because of those intuitive questions that humans, as a civilisation, have achieved whatever they have achieved to date.

Now, an Oxford researcher, Anders Sandberg, has answered such a question and posted his paper online. The paper is titled, Blueberry Earth and as the name suggests, it tackles quite an interesting as well as a bizarre question - "what if the entire Earth was instantaneously replaced with an equal volume of closely packed, but uncompressed blueberries?"

To put it simply, what if the Earth was made of nothing but blueberries! Well, the simple answer is everything would start to explode and the planet would collapse to a fraction of its previous size and it would also lead to "a steam atmosphere covering an ocean of jam on top of warm blueberry granite" – yeah, that's science for you!

Now, Sandberg makes an important assumption in his paper. He assumes that the blueberries in question are not the "wild, thin-skinned blueberries" but the "big, thick-skinned highbush" ones. Why is that important again? Well, it's because the bigger and thick-skinned blueberries would have a lot more space between them than the wild, thin-skinned ones.

All this, when Earth suddenly becomes a huge pile of evenly spaced blueberries. In Sandberg's blueberry Earth model, those spaces between the berries would be filled with air, which is very interesting!

"To a person standing on the surface of the Earth when it turns into blueberries, the first effect would be a drastic reduction of gravity," wrote Sandberg in his paper.

So, basically, if you are standing on the mushy ground made of blueberries, the first sensation that you would notice would be in your gut. It would feel like an elevator is dropping and that's because your weight would drop by 87 percent.

OK, even that was fun until we got to know that this soft, low-gravity blueberry ground under our feet won't really last for a long time. It would change things and that too pretty fast.

All those air that would fill the gaps between the blueberries would start to rush towards the planet's surface, as the blueberry pile would start to collapse into itself under its very own gravitational pressure. As a result, gigantic bubbles would start to burst from the surface, throwing matter into space. However, the planet's core would turn into a very thick blueberry jam.

Now, the geysers of bubbles and the collapsing of the planetary core would lead to "the worst earthquake ever," wrote the researcher in his paper. "And it keeps on going until everything has fallen [towards the centre of the planet] 715 km [444 miles]. While this is going on, everything heats up drastically [by about 143 degrees along the Celsius scale or 258 degrees along the Fahrenheit scale, thanks to the gravitational energy release] until the entire environment is boiling jam and steam. The result is a world that has a steam atmosphere covering an ocean of jam on top of warm blueberry granite," he added.

That "granita" would be the hot interior of blueberry ice, which would be compressed into a solid state by the extreme pressure at the centre of the planet.

Ok, that's the surface and the core of the planet; what about the sky? According to Sandberg's paper, the sky would still appear bluish and it will have white water-vapour clouds. If you survive the blueberry overdose on our planet; you would be in for a treat; a dramatic vision - the moon, which would be suddenly released from Earth's gravitational pull, racing into space.

Well, the paper still leaves a lot of questions to be answered. "One might wonder if this kind of exploration is worthwhile. I believe it is: This is both a pedagogical and amusing way of applying standard planetary science modelling to a system.

Given how exotic exoplanets have turned out, the physics of blueberry Earth is actually fairly normal compared to much that is out there," concluded Anders Sandberg.