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50 interesting facts about Earth

41. The Pacific Ocean is the biggest basin

map showing depth of Pacific Ocean near Japan.

(Image credit: NOAA)

The Pacific Ocean is by far Earth's largest ocean basin, covering an area of about 63 million square miles (163 million square kilometers) and containing more than half of the free water on Earth, according to NOAA (opens in new tab). It's so big that all of the world's continents could fit into the Pacific basin.

42. Trees are breathing giants

General Sherman tree

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When we think about big life, whales and elephants come to mind. But try on this tree for size: The General Sherman giant sequoia is the largest known stem tree by volume on the planet. The trunk of the tree contains slightly more than 52,500 cubic feet (1,486.6 cubic meters) of material. 

43. A huge fungus is the largest living thing

Armillaria mushroom

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you want to pinpoint the biggest organism on the planet, though, your best bet might be a really huge fungus. In 1992, scientists reporting in Nature (opens in new tab) revealed to the world a Armillaria, or honey mushroom, fungal organism that spans 2,200 acres in Oregon. There’s a slight chance that the offshoots of this mega-fungus aren't clones, but are simply closely related, but we’re in awe either way.

44. This bat is the world's smallest mammal

Discovered by Thai zoologist Kitti Thonglongya in 1974, it's also known as Kitti's hog-nosed bat because of its pink, pig-like snout.

(Image credit: Fiona Reid | fionareid.ca)

On the other end of the spectrum, there are plenty of teeny-tiny organisms on Earth, all the way down to single-cell life. But let's focus on something a little more cuddly: the Kitti's hog-nosed bat, also known as the bumblebee bat.

This vulnerable species found in southeast Asia is only about 1 inch (29-33 millimeters) long and weighs only 0.071 ounces (2 grams), putting it in the running with Etruscan shrews– which are lighter but longer– for the world's smallest mammal, according to the Guinness World Records (opens in new tab)

45. Tokyo is the most populated city

Tokyo

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Don't like crowds? Stay away from Tokyo. This city in Japan is the most densely populated in the world. According to the 2021 World Population Review (opens in new tab), , 37,435,191 people live there.

46. Greenland has the most open space

Schweizerland, Greenland

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lovers of solitude might try Greenland on for size. This nation boasts the least population density of any on Earth. As of 2016, 55,847 people lived in 836,330 square miles (2,180,000 square kilometers), according to ScienceNordic (opens in new tab). Most of the settlements in Greenland are clustered on the coast, however, so this low population density is somewhat misleading.

47. The Atacama Desert is the driest spot

Milky way Chilean Atacama Desert

(Image credit: ESO/S. Guisard)

The driest non-polar desert  on Earth is the Atacama Desert of Chile and Peru, according to the journal Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (opens in new tab). In the center of this desert, there are places where rain has never been recorded.

48. Roald Amundsen was first to reach the South Pole

Roald Amundsen, South Pole

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Speaking of deserts, the first person to successfully traverse the desert of Antarctica to reach the South Pole was Norwegian Roald Amundsen, according to Royal Museums Greenwich (RMG) (opens in new tab). He and four other men used sleds pulled by dogs to make it to the Pole. Amundsen would later attribute his success to careful planning.

49. There are other Earth-like planets

kepler22b artwork

(Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech)

There are almost surely more planets like ours. Space scientists have found evidence of Earth-like planets orbiting distant stars, including an alien planet called Kepler 22-b circling in the habitable zone of a star much like ours.

Whether any of these planets will harbor life is an open question.

50. The skies dazzle with dancing lights

Aurora australis, the southern lights

(Image credit: Keith Vanderlinde, National Science Foundation)

Auroras occur when charged particles from the sun are funneled toward Earth by the planet's magnetic field and collide with the upper atmosphere near the poles, according to RMG (opens in new tab). They are more active when the sun's activity peaks during its 11-year solar weather cycle, according to Space.com (opens in new tab).

The southern lights, also called aurora australis, are seen less often than aurora borealis, the northern lights, because few people brave Antarctica's dark, freezing winters. 

Additional resources

For ten facts about the Earth in space, visit the NASA Science website (opens in new tab). Additionally, you can hear about what rivers can tell us about Earth’s history in this TED Talk (opens in new tab) from geoscientist Liz Hajek.  

Bibliography

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"Lunar Rocks".  Encyclopedia of Physical Science and Technology, Third Edition (2003). https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/earth-and-planetary-sciences/moonquakes (opens in new tab)

"Constraints on deep moonquake focal mechanisms through analyses of tidal stress". Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets (2009). https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/70034770 (opens in new tab)

"Regular stalagmites: The theory behind their shape". Acta Carsologica (2008). https://www.researchgate.net/publication/289629711_Regular_stalagmites_The_theory_behind_their_shape (opens in new tab)

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"How important is V̇O2max when climbing Mt. Everest (8,849 m)?". Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology (2022). https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1569904821002196 (opens in new tab)

"Energy" Herweck, D (2009). https://www.google.co.uk/books/edition/Energy/rGzlwdtnhwkC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=Energy+By+Don+Herweck&pg=PT5&printsec=frontcover (opens in new tab)

"The fungus Armillaria bulbosa is among the largest and oldest living organisms". Nature (1992). https://www.nature.com/articles/356428a0 (opens in new tab)

"Antonie van Leeuwenhoek". Introducing the Atacama Desert (2018). https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10482-018-1100-2#citeas (opens in new tab)

Ailsa is a staff writer for How It Works (opens in new tab) magazine, where she writes science, technology, history, space and environment features. Based in the U.K., she graduated from the University of Stirling (opens in new tab) with a BA (Hons) journalism degree. Previously, Ailsa has written for Cardiff Times magazine, Psychology Now and numerous science bookazines. Ailsa's interest in the environment also lies outside of writing, as she has worked alongside Operation Wallacea (opens in new tab) conducting rainforest and ocean conservation research.