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Q: What would happen if there was a giant straw connecting the Earth’s atmosphere right above the ground to space?
Physicist: About the same thing that happens to a straw in a glass of water: the water level in the straw evens out with the water level outside. What holds the atmosphere to the planet is gravity, so if a patch of air tries to drift off into space it literally falls back. For something like liquid mercury that’s about 76cm, which is why the “1 atmosphere” of pressure is often expressed as “760mm of Mercury”. A straw doesn’t provide an “escape route”; our air is free to try to leave whenever. The atmosphere stays where it is because it’s made of mass and the Earth has gravity.
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