Skip to main content
Updated date:

What if the Earth was the Size of an Apple?

Being able to fit the entirety of Earth in the palm of your hands.

Being able to fit the entirety of Earth in the palm of your hands.

You most likely read the title and thought it mad. However if the title itself is what brought you to this article, then you are clearly intrigued as to how the statement proposed is actually possible -and it is. Its all to do with the structure of atoms.

To get our head around this principle, we need to first have a basic understanding of the atom. Here's what they contain:

Not to scale artist impression of the nucleus of an atom surrounded by electrons.

Not to scale artist impression of the nucleus of an atom surrounded by electrons.

Protons and Neutrons

Protons and Neutrons are both subatomic particles found in the nucleus of an atom. The proton, with the symbol 'p', has a positive electric charge. Whereas the neutron, symbol 'n' has no net electric charge (hence the 'neut' also found in 'neutral'). The neutron has a mass a little bit larger than the proton, but that doesn't really matter for what we are trying to understand for now.

When looking at atoms in a periodic table, the proton number will tell you the amount of protons in the atoms nuclei, and the mass number will tell you the number of protons and neutrons in the atoms nuclei. Therefore you can work out the number of neutrons in the atom from these numbers. This is not really relevant to what we are trying to understand here, but is good to know.

The protons and neutrons sit in a cluster held together by the strong force in the centre of the atom. They are orbited by electrons.


Electrons, also subatomic particles, orbit the nucleus of the atom. In case you were wondering, the symbol for an electron is e-, and from this you can probably guess that the electron has a negative charge.

The electrons are somewhat smaller than the protons and neutrons, being approximately 1/1836th the size of a proton.

The important part to remember about the electron when understanding the title of this hub, is that the electron is not right next to the nucleus. It's far from it in fact.

An easy way to understand it is if you were to imagine a football stadium. Inside that football stadium in the dead centre lies a fly, squashed if you will. Outside of the stadium are a few free roaming woodlice, that walk around the stadium in a circular orbit. The distance between the dead fly and the woodlice is somewhat approximate to the relative distance between the nucleus and the electrons (though of course on a minute scale).

Distance and size difference between a proton and an electron

Distance and size difference between a proton and an electron

So basically from this we've learned that atoms are mostly just empty space. In fact, atoms are 99.9999999% nothingness. This poses some rather deep philosophical questions, for example, are we just nothing? if 99.9999999% of us is an empty vacuum, then what actually are we?

However, things get even more interesting when we start to imagine what it would be like if all that space wasn't there.

What if the electrons slid over the protons and neutrons as they orbited, and had no space at all in between?

- and this my friends, is where we arrive at the explanation to the title of this Hub.

Removing the Space

If we were to remove the space between all the atoms in the average male humans body, we could shrink them down to a size smaller than a grain of sand. However, say the man at his normal size weighed around 120lbs, when shrunk down to this size, he would still weigh the same.

This is because all the mass of the protons and neutrons would still be the same, except all the useless space would be gone. The remaining 'grain' would be extremely dense.

Now imagine taking all the space out of everything on earth. All the empty space out of the paper-clips and cars and juggling balls and Paris Hilton's head. All gone.
The Earth would now exist at the size of no more than an apple. The apple would still weigh the same as the Earth does now, but in a much smaller, much denser size.

This kind of mass in such a small space could possibly cause a black hole. This is one of the reasons why neutron stars cause such phenomena in space time, gravity and magnetic fields.

I might add that this information is purely theoretical. We do not know how exactly electrons move inside the atom, and could fill it with waves etc.

However, despite the apparent uselessness of this hub, its rather interesting to know that we are 99.9999999% nothing, and the consequences of what could happen if the universe didn't work in the way it does.

I hope you have found this mildly interesting and if you liked it, feel free to check out some other hubs that may interest you:

All You Need To Know About Neutron Stars

R136a1 - The Most Massive Star Known


Cuttler from HubPages on January 29, 2013:

Interesting hub...who knew we are just empty spaces...voted up as awesome and interesting and shared.

John Smith (author) from London on January 26, 2013:

Thank you very much for reading and your generous comment! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

Nicholas Nelson from Park Fores, ILLINOIS on January 25, 2013:

Brilliant, clever, intelligent and humorous, referring of course to the line about Paris Hilton's head. I never knew that we had so much negative space. Truly a well written Hub that does evoke intropspective thought. Thank you.

Related Articles