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Historical Events  Geography
Mount Everest

Where is the highest point on earth?

MMDE: Mount Everest

Current: Not Mount Everest

Following the MMDE regarding Australia's highest mountain not being where it was popularly thought to be, we now have one regarding the big daddy of them all - Mount Everest itself. 

Unlike the Australian one, this isn't down to the historical naming of territories but a technicality relating to how the heights themselves are measured. The standard way is "height above sea level", but there's an issue with that. It assumes the earth is a perfect sphere, which it's not. Gravity and it's rotation makes it appear as though it's squashed. This "bulge" contains the sea, so it's level is different at the poles to the equator by about 13 miles.

An alternative way to measure heights, which would handle the situation of the earth being slightly flattened at the equator due to gravity and rotation. is to measure the distance from the centre of the earth. When you do that with Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador, you find it is 3.966.80 miles from the center of the earth, with Everest being slightly less at 3.965.50 miles away.

Everest isn't even second

It gets worse. At just 131 feet lower than Chimborazo is the Nevado Huascaran in Peru, which makes it to second place using the same "centre of the earth" measuring system.

There are even more complications. Another way of measuring the highest point is to just go from the bottom to the top of the mountain. When you do this, you're ignoring sea level - which brings us to Mauna Kea in Hawaii, which is the tallest mountain on earth by far, but most of it is submerged.