How Is Planet Earth Proportionately Round and Smooth Like a Billiard Ball and What Is an Ellipsoid?

On average, the earth is certainly as smooth as a billiard ball.

The earth is more than 12,000 kilometers in diameter.

Mount Everest is less than 10 kilometers high, and the profoundest depths of the ocean are around 11 kilometers.

Thus, the most extreme variations in the earth’s surface are roughly on a scale of one part in a thousand, and an Everest is very rare.

The equivalent bump on a 2 1/4-inch billiard ball would be about two-thousandths of an inch, so most parts of the earth are a lot smoother.

But smoothness is one thing and roundness is another.

The earth is flattened from top to bottom, so it is an ellipsoid, not a sphere.

The deviation between an equatorial radius and a polar radius is about 20 kilometers, and so no one would want to play billiards with a ball shaped like the earth.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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