I know, you`re saying to yourself right now: “That is an easy one! Who doesn`t know the answer to this question?! Of course, Everest, duuh!”
Well if that the case then you are terribly WRONG.
(Don`t worry, you are certainly NOT the only! For example, I was wrong too when I was first answered this tricky question!)
Mauna Kea, which is the highest point on the island of Hawaii.
The inactive volcano is a modest 4206 meters above sea level, but when measured from the seabed to its summit, it is 10200 meters high – which is about 1200 meters taller than Mount Everest.
As far as mountains are concerned, the current convention is that “highest” means measured from sea level to summit; “tallest” means measured from the bottom of the mountain to the top.
So, while Mount Everest, at 8848 meters, is the highest mountain in the world, it is not the tallest.
Measuring mountains is trickier than it looks. It’s easy enough to see where the top is, but where exactly is the bottom of a mountain?
For example, some argue that Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania – at 5895 meters – is taller than Everest because it rises straight out of the African plain, whereas Everest is merely one of many peaks topping the enormous base of the Himalayas, shared by the world’s next thirteen highest mountains.
Others claim that the most logical measure ought to be the distance of a mountain’s peak from the center of the Earth.
Because the Earth is a flattened rather than a perfect sphere, the equator is about thirteen miles further from the center of the Earth than the poles.
This is good news for the reputation of those mountains that are very close to the equator – like Mount Chimborazo in the Andes – but it also means accepting that even the beaches in Ecuador are higher than the Himalayas.
Though massive, the Himalayas are surprisingly young. When they were formed, the dinosaurs had been dead for twenty-five million years.
In Nepal, Everest is known as Chomolungma (Mother of the Universe). In Tibet, it is called Sagamartha (Forehead of the Sky). Like any healthy youngster, it is still growing, at the not very exciting rate of 4 mm a year.
Tell me, doesn’t this prove how fragile our knowledge that we got from school is? It was for me.
Leave a comment and tell me your opinion.
P.S. The information in this article is not the result my work/research. It was taken from a book and translated into English. At least for now, I don’t want to give in the title of the book, because I want you to stay tuned for the next articles from the series “Did you know?” Thank you for understanding!