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Life Without the Moon

Article #314 • Written by Jason Bellows

Life is a tenuous thing. Earth is just within Sol's habitable zone, and constantly pelted with solar radiation and cosmic rays. Rocky scraps of cosmic afterbirth constantly cross Earth’s orbit, threatening to eradicate all terrestrial life. In point of fact, it is almost certain that countless Extinction-Level Events would have sterilized the surface of our plucky planet had it not been for our constant companion and benefactor; a body which unwittingly wards away many of the ills that could befall us: the moon.

Luna is unique among the observed celestial bodies; there is no other satellite closer in size and composition to its mother-planet (if one discounts the dwarf-planet Pluto), and the Earth/moon system is the only tidally locked pair. Furthermore, it also happens to be the only moon in the solar system which is circling an intelligent civilization-- a factor which may not be a mere coincidence.

It was 4.5 billion years ago last week that the young planetesimal Earth was forming from the sun's accretion disk of dust and boulders. Several other aspiring planets were building up nearby. One particularly promising young protoplanet was making some exemplary progress by loitering in Earth's Lagrange point, allowing it to share Earth's orbit by staying at a gravitationally neutral distance. As the mass of both young Earth and her smaller rival, Thiea increased, the gravitationally stable Lagrange point was insufficient to keep the worldlets apart, and the proto-worlds were drawn together. Theia, approximately Mars-sized by now, accelerated toward and slammed into Earth at an oblique angle. The heavy core of the smaller world didn't have the velocity to escape Earth, but a large swath of the lighter mantle material of both were flung into orbit. Within the year, the moon we know was well-under construction--or so goes the popular theory. No one bothered to record for us the the rate of Earth's spin before the incident, but like a glancing shot off a billiards ball, the Giant Impact certainly made sure it was spinning afterward.

In that era, the moon was much nearer Earth, and would have looked much larger--several times the size of the sun. For a long time the moon retained a molten core and the accompanying magnetic fields which left geological marks on our world. When things were almost settled down, there was an era called Late Planetary Bombardment when both Earth and its companion were pelted by impacts that blew planetary debris around, and left some of Earth's ancient geology on the moon. Over the eons, erosion has scrubbed away all evidence of that ancient time from the Earth, but some of the chunks that were blasted to the moon were preserved in a frozen, unchanged state. Ultimately these remnants of the Earth's violent youth would be found by enterprising humans, such as the infamous Genesis rock collected by the Apollo 15 astronauts.

Observations of the solar system show us that the moon's birth was rather unusual. All of the other worlds either lack satellites or have captured them from other places. Of course the moon isn't Earth's only unusual resident; its surface crawls with all manner of strange and delicate carbon-based life forms. Adherents of the Rare Earth Theory postulate that a large moon such as ours is not merely a benefit for life, but essentially a requirement.

Although our planetary neighbor Mars also technically lies within Sol's habitable zone, there is reason to speculate that life never could get a foothold there because of its axial tilt. Mars' axis can wobble from 10 degrees up to the current 25 degrees, and maybe more. This has sometimes leaned one of the poles so sharply that the ice melted, filling the meager atmosphere with water vapor that froze again on the next season. By introducing such extremes to the weather, the planet would potentially go through phases where sheets of ice were laid on the surface for epochs, then melted away when the axis tilt became more favorable. When the Phoenix Lander lands near a Martian icecap in May, we may get a chance to see evidence of this ice age cycle on the surface. While Earth has had its share of ice-ages, the gravity of the moon has acted as a gyroscope, keeping the Earth's axis steady at 23.5 degrees and sparing us the wild environmental changes Mars faced. This long-term stability has given life a chance to arise amidst a cycle of regular seasonal changes.

A case can also be made that the tides have been invaluable to the evolution of life on our world. The sun alone would cause some tides to occur, though they would be far less than those the moon creates. The surfing would suck, and for many that wouldn't be a life worth living. The higher tides afforded us by Luna have made long swaths of coastline into areas of that are regularly shifted between dry and wet. These variable areas may have been a proving ground for early sea life to reach out of the oceans and test the land for its suitability as a habitat. Areas farther from shore are only dry at the peak of low-tide, and the period of exposure to air increases as one nears shore, allowing for a subtle progression toward a waterless environment. Early life could have taken advantage of this gradual change to adapt to the wildly different demands of surviving outside the ocean.

It's not only water being tugged by the moon's gravity. Perhaps the moon helps keep Earth's core and seas warmer than they would otherwise be. Since the moon circles the Earth once a month, and the Earth is spinning a full turn at a much quicker 24 hours, the moon's gravity is creating drag, hence friction, as it pulls at Earth's surface. This causes several things to happen: first is a perpetual morphing of the crust--like the amateurish kneading of bread--that contributes a clumpy, broken mess that we call plate tectonics.

Even Earth's rotation is slowed by virtue of the Moon's pull. Without the moon, the Earth might rotate much faster, causing a more turbulent atmosphere, and thus unending gales of life-hostile, skirt-blowing winds. As Luna's orbit slowly creeps away from the Earth at 1.5 inches per year, her gravimetric drag will eventually slow the Earth's rotation to match the pace of the moon's orbit. One day will be 9,600 hours long, and the moon will only be visible from one hemisphere, fixed in the sky. Of course, by then the sun should be in an expanding red-giant phase, slowly engulfing its planets. The sun's coronal atmosphere could be creating drag against the moon, slowing it toward an eventual breakup as Earth's gravity tears it apart. The remnants of Luna will fall back to Mother Earth as meteorites, and while it may be a pretty show, it ought to prove bad for property values, and worse for the surf.

If the unlikely set of circumstances which brought forth our moon are as rare as they seem, perhaps ours is the only such planetary system in the entire, vast galaxy; or perhaps in our unfashionable limb of the universe. But every once in a great while, when the time is right, two protoplanets who love each other very much can touch each other in a special way, and make life together. Without that magic, astronomical ritual, we certainly would not be here.

Article written by Jason Bellows, published on 19 February 2008. Jason is a contributing editor for DamnInteresting.com.

Article design and artwork by Alan Bellows. Edited by Alan Bellows.
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122 Comments
FIRST
Posted 19 February 2008 at 11:15 am

first


t1t4n
Posted 19 February 2008 at 11:32 am

second


PixelMage
Posted 19 February 2008 at 11:44 am

Great article! I enjoyed this, it also made me laugh. Keep up the good work!


ZeTron
Posted 19 February 2008 at 11:46 am

Awesome as usual. Btw there is a total eclipse in North America on the 20th of this month. Tomorrow. Hope for clear skys


superslicedog
Posted 19 February 2008 at 11:46 am

well a promising glimpse of things to come.... of couse with a 9600 hour day i could definately get my laundry done and walk the dog all in time for the 40 hour sunset


Criggie
Posted 19 February 2008 at 12:03 pm

superslicedog: agreed - I've always wanted to have a slightly longer day... I work for 8-12 hours, do other stuff for another 10 or so, then sleep for 12. That'd be fantastic.

I recall reading somewhere that the human diernal (sp?) cycle is a little longer than 24 hours, so we're continually adjusting to get up in the day.

Or maybe there's more need to post comments here - Just finished reading the back catalogue and noticed that newer articles have far more comments than the earlier ones.


tarteauxpommes
Posted 19 February 2008 at 12:15 pm

DI article! And beautifully written as well. You have some highly-skilled writers on here.


Mikell
Posted 19 February 2008 at 12:17 pm

And I thought we all lived in a Yellow Submarine.


Sreeram
Posted 19 February 2008 at 12:27 pm

I wouldn't want to be working everyday with a 9600 hour-a-day. Ofcourse, I'll get to enjoy the loooong nights. :P


GeorgeAR
Posted 19 February 2008 at 12:28 pm

I've read life on earth actually came from the moon. As Jason describes, the earth and moon threw rocks at each other for awhile. Small insects, evolved (or created by God. Your choice) on the moon, were thrust into the Earth environment. Thus the beginning of life here. All started by Luna ticks.


Mad?
Posted 19 February 2008 at 12:29 pm

Here's the really cool thing, 4.5 billion yrs ago the suns diameter would have been about the size of our solar system. Can't figure out the planet part, but that's just me I suppose. Can't figure out the, first there was nothing, then it exploded and here we are part ... order from chaos. (Evolution, what an amazing religion)


NR Austin
Posted 19 February 2008 at 12:58 pm

@Mad?: You're kidding, right? You have the manual dexterity to operate a computer mouse and keyboard, and sufficient curiosity and bandwidth to have found damninteresting, but you're trying to argue against evolution via appeals to 19th century thermodynamics? Even if you're a troll, you're stale.


rev.felix
Posted 19 February 2008 at 01:02 pm

The interesting thing is, the beginning was pretty much nothing-boom-something according to whichever theory/religion you subscribe to. I'm a creationist and an evolutionist myself. God created pie, and we evolved because we wanted to eat it. Universe explained.


rev.felix
Posted 19 February 2008 at 01:04 pm

By the way, in case anyone is confused, Mad? is looking for a fight. If you start a flame war with him/her/it, you are playing straight into their hands/claws/eskimos.


A-Train72
Posted 19 February 2008 at 01:08 pm

It was 4.5 billion years ago last week

LOL that made me smile. Good Article


bitemark
Posted 19 February 2008 at 01:26 pm

I'm pretty sure I've heard that when the moon was first formed, it was only about 10,000 miles away, as opposed to the current 250,000 miles (give or take). This would generate tides that would be thousands of miles high, and may have churned up the land/sea enough to form the "primodial soup."


wargammer
Posted 19 February 2008 at 01:27 pm

excuse me, but the claim the the Moon orbits a planet with intelligent life is not backed up by some of the other entries here.....


Freebs72
Posted 19 February 2008 at 01:38 pm

While the article are allways DI, I find that the way the post threads divert WAY off course onto subjects that have nothing to do with them is truly DAMN INTERESTING!!!!!


mustamike
Posted 19 February 2008 at 01:40 pm

DI and funny as well. "Will mankind one day without the net expenditure of energy be able to restore the sun to its full youthfulness even after it had died of old age?" http://www.multivax.com/last_question.html


Dean
Posted 19 February 2008 at 02:11 pm

I once saw a documentary about the moon, and how it's slowly getting away. It proposed all sorts of ways to restore balance to our home and one was to steal another moon from Jupiter. But if you can go to Jupiter and get a moon, why can't you just move the original back a bit? I think they just thought it would be cool to have 2 moons. You know the Earths axis does change it's tilt a little bit over thousands of years. I never knew the moon did so much! DI!


Freebs72
Posted 19 February 2008 at 02:19 pm

I allways wondered, what would happen if we cleaned up the asteroid belt beween Mars & Jupiter, by sending all of them into Mars. Would Mars grow in size and mass to hold an atmosphere?


sh0cktopus
Posted 19 February 2008 at 02:41 pm

Criggie said: "superslicedog: agreed - I've always wanted to have a slightly longer day… I work for 8-12 hours, do other stuff for another 10 or so, then sleep for 12. That'd be fantastic."

Hrmmm... seems like you already have a longer day than the rest of us. 30 - 34 hours?


kiwi-guy
Posted 19 February 2008 at 02:49 pm

I'm absolutely intrigued by the relative size/distance ratio of the moon and the sun, giving us an almost perfect 1:1 solar eclipse.

Of course, it's even better than perfect, because it gives us the 'diamond ring' effect. A nice gift from science/God (cross out what you don't believe.)


systmh
Posted 19 February 2008 at 03:23 pm

good article.

the rare earth theory is complete bullocks. anthropomorphic arrogance at its finest. the universe isn't fine-tuned to us--we are fine-tuned to fit our own little niche in the universe. that's what evolution does.

there is no worse drought in science than when scientists believe they know everything. there are possibilities we have still not explored; more possibilities than we can ever explore.

alas, if we ever do find life out there, we will probably ignore it and classify it as something else because it doesn't fit our own rules for how life can exist here on earth.

...i feel a rant about the massive flaws in the big bang model coming on. it shares a similar observational bias. but i'll spare everyone and save that for an appropriate article :)


Mad?
Posted 19 February 2008 at 03:37 pm

@NR Austin: the rate the sun burns off it's energy, (calculated 2007) over time it burns off less. Howww 19th centuryish of me. And ...you folks crack me up... thanks I needed that.
these comments, DI. (at least Very Interesting!)
P.S..... Eskimos?


andy cochrane
Posted 19 February 2008 at 03:58 pm

nobody is going to mention mr. show's "blow up the moon" sketch?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHpX5aa5Lz4

classic.


systmh
Posted 19 February 2008 at 04:00 pm

mad?--
let me first say that i am not going to insult or flame you. civilized discussion is my only goal.
what is the argument are you making? you say that 4.5 billion years ago, the sun must've been the size of the solar system. are you referring to the accretion disk? or do you mean to say that the sun must've been larger with more hydrogen fuel, and has since "burned away" to make the sun become smaller?

the flaw there is the way gravity works in very massive bodies. if you added more hydrogen to jupiter, for example, something counter-intuitive would happen. if jupiter became more massive (heavier), its size would actually shrink. jupiter is considered the maximum size for a 'cold' celestial body--more matter would not 'pile up' making it larger, but rather compress and make it more dense due to its immense gravity. this phenomenon happens beyond a certain mass borderline. the sun is a 'hot' celestial object--deuterium fusion in its core causes expansion and out-radiation in the form of solar wind. this 'inflates' the sun to a size larger than jupiter--it grows until balance is reached between its gravity and its out-pressure.

4.5 billion years ago, the sun did have a lot more hydrogen fuel. but, because of how fusion works, it has always burned its fuel at about the same rate as it does today. so, the radiation pressure has remained steady. when it had more fuel, however, it had more gravity, which brought that balance i was speaking of down to a smaller size. the sun was actually ever-so-slightly smaller back then.

it should be further noted that when the sun 'burns' (fuses) hydrogen, the hydrogen does not disappear like fuel from a gas tank. it fuses together into heavier elements, specifically denser helium; so not that much mass is actually lost. some mass is lost in the form of subatomic particles, which radiate outward and become cosmic rays.. but most of the sun is still there, locked in heavy elements that sink into the sun's core.


Silverhill
Posted 19 February 2008 at 04:29 pm

Jason Bellows said:"...the Earth/moon system is the only tidally locked pair...
I must disagree, in part. If you mean "pair of bodies, one of which is tide-locked", OK, but the Earth-Moon system is not unique in this regard. The gas giants have tidally-locked satellites too. It sounds as though you mean "pair of bodies, both of which are locked", or else "system consisting of only a pair of bodies, (at least) one of which is locked".

bitemark said: "I'm pretty sure I've heard that when the moon was first formed, it was only about 10,000 miles away, as opposed to the current 250,000 miles (give or take). This would generate tides that would be thousands of miles high..."
Tidal force varies as the inverse cube of the orbital radius. Using only that, with no other complicating factors such as obtain in Real Life, the highest (average) tide would be "only" 10 miles, not thousands.

systmh said: "the rare earth theory is complete bullocks. anthropomorphic arrogance at its finest. the universe isn't fine-tuned to us–we are fine-tuned to fit our own little niche in the universe. that's what evolution does."
I think you mean "bollocks", because a bullock is a steer or a young bull. A Bullock is a sexy actress.
Go re-read Jason's paragraphs 6 & 7 about the possible rarity of conditions here. They don't say that those conditions exist because of, or for, us; they merely say that we (may) exist because of them, and if they're rare, we're therefore rare.

Mad? said: "Here's the really cool thing, 4.5 billion yrs ago the suns diameter would have been about the size of our solar system."
At 4.5 GYA, Sol had already condensed unto its present size (give or take a few percent). At about 5 GYA, it was perhaps as big as you say, but that does not matter.
Can't figure out the planet part, but that's just me I suppose.
I suppose so. Fortunately, we've had people like Laplace and Lagrange (and Newton, and Gauss, and...) who can "figure out the planet part". Learn from them, instead of just saying "I'm ignorant."
Can't figure out the, first there was nothing, then it exploded and here we are part ... order from chaos.
As just one tiny example of order from chaos, proceeding quite naturally, consider the formation of a crystal. Or the formation of an atom from free ions. You need to read more.
(Evolution, what an amazing religion)
What an "amazing" (tired & lame, actually) bit of trolling.


systmh
Posted 19 February 2008 at 04:42 pm

silverhill--bollocks, i see.

thanks, but i prefer it my way ;)

i wasn't venting against Jason, i was venting against some of the 'scientists' that have a restrictively narrow mind in their search for extraterrestrial life--it was a bit of an un-related tangent, but i tend to spin off on those often. human life is rare (unique in fact), but intelligent life may very well exist beyond the goldilocks criteria.


Mad?
Posted 19 February 2008 at 05:34 pm

systmh-
no argument, just wanted to comment, I guess I did imply physical dia.,
I suppose I meant the output of radiation, it's dia. of influence on it' surroundings,(heat,radiation,gravity verses time) Sort of a "life from vaporised planets, and then dissolved rocks query."
The" theory " of evolution has been permeated so much into our brains and lives, I've always wanted to comment, if only just to "read" the second law of thermodynamics at work.
The universe along with us humans implies, Creator.
To some it's easier to believe anything else. (sorry feebs72, I was the rabbit trail starter)
The DI article was interesting though.....


treflar
Posted 19 February 2008 at 05:54 pm

very interesting.... dammit.


martym
Posted 19 February 2008 at 06:23 pm

I don't understand how any of this really "proves" a rare earth theory. What it says is that, perhaps, we needed the moon for life of Earth to take root the way it did. That does not mean other planets without a moon just like earth couldn't have a stable axis, vast coastlines, or a rotation that wasn't extreme.

Also, I find it hard to believe that life could not adapt to potentially high winds and extreme weather. We have life everywhere on this planet in the harshest of environments. That is, harsh for Earth. The key doesn't seem to require a lack of hurricanes, but rather lots of water and air, and tempertures that don't leave it all frozen or boiling away. A lack of a moon doesn't make any of that disappear. Mars greatest problem is that it it just a little too cold and too small. Venus is that it's atmosphere is toxic and acts like a greenhouse, superheating the planet. I don't think a wobbly axis and slightly less stable weather are what kept either planet from developing vast life.

Also, if you think about it, we have had an "extinction" event. Whatever wiped out the dinosaurs. Except, clearly, lots of life survived that event, new adaptions were made, and life marched forward. Earth has so much going for it, even extreme events can't wipe out life.

Anyway, I do find it interesting how the moon probably helped life develop in more stable fashion on Earth, but I see no evidence that this would be a requirement for the literally trillions of other planets that are probably out there. Surely a few of them could have a relatively stable environment without the aid of a Earth-like moon.


oldmancoyote
Posted 19 February 2008 at 07:14 pm

Personally, I'm all for more of those "skirt-blowing winds." Just can't get enough of that. As for the lack of life on Mars and Venus, until we can fully explore the worlds we cannot say conclusively that it doesn't exist.(see systmh's comment #24, I agree we could easily miss the mark completely)

Sorry Jason, I think you need to double check your calender(or maybe I need to triple check mine), but the Earth will not turn 4.5 billion until next week. Apart from that one glaring mistake, DI!


Fírinne
Posted 19 February 2008 at 07:23 pm

Probably someone has said this nitpick already:

"When things were almost settled down, there was an era called Late Planetary Bombardment when both Earth and it's companion were pelted by impacts"

That should be its, not it's.

:)


kiwi-guy
Posted 19 February 2008 at 07:25 pm

can people start using the shift key sometimes? it's starting to annoy me. we all went to school. we (well, most of us) are fairly intelligent here, aren't we? (examples of names excluded in current rant to save litigation.)


budzooka
Posted 19 February 2008 at 07:58 pm

Great article although a story I've heard before... I still can't believe last week was 4.5 billion years ago but if you say so I will believe it. It must be so if you say so. After all, some people claim God created everything just a few thousand years ago; others claim everything was created by the big bang; and some like me don't really care. But what really cracks me up is how many people think they know. For me it's just a beautiful thing to stand under a big midsummer sky with that miraculous moon hanging there and wonder how many of you are looking up at that very moon at the same time I am... to be filled with awe to just know how small and fragile we really are...
Good article. Thought provoking.


Garrett
Posted 19 February 2008 at 08:41 pm

I just registered on this site, after months of intense lurking. I've read most of the archives, but it was pointed out by my little brother that clicking the Random Article link thousands of times isn't the best way to do it. Damn! Gotta start over... front to back.

I've never encountered such a wholly fascinating and enlightening website in all of my adventures on the interwebs. A diligent pursuit of knowledge, coupled with an irreverent sense of humor, make this site a true gem unlike any other.

I should also express my profound appreciation for the legions of commentors who have proven to be the most intelligent group on the web. Just to mention a few:

Radiatidon: You are my hero. You are quite possibly the most learned man I've ever had the privilege of reading. In fact, when in a hurry, I'll read a DI article, then skip on down to see what you have to say, which invariably adds a whole new dimension to the topic at hand.

Another viewpoint: Kudos to you for being the iconoclast just for the sake of it. You've inspired many laughs.

Anonymousx2, rp2, Silverhill, Drakvil, JustAnotherName, Cesium, Tink, Floj, and many, many others... you have become an integral part of DI to me. Please keep up your insightful and often very funny commentary!

Now to comment on the article:

A classically thought-provoking DI piece!

To quote systmh, "there is no worse drought in science than when scientists believe they know everything. there are possibilities we have still not explored; more possibilities than we can ever explore."

This evokes a compelling thought, built partially upon some evidence that's been unearthed by a research group called Legendary Times. While I can't wholly agree with all of their theories, they do cause the mind to head in a direction that is generally regarded by mainstream science as heresy.

The "missing link" that many creationists and others tout as reason to not believe in evolution may just be so far buried in the distant past that it is now impossible to unearth it. I am of the firm belief that human beings are so amazingly advanced and show such tremendous promise, that is it not unreasonable to think that we've been around for hundreds of millions of years or more.

It seems to be the consensus among most that our planet has undergone many cataclysmic events, each of which could have effectively destroyed all the tangible artifacts and written history that we humans have spent ages accumulating. According to genetic experts, our current populous could have been seeded by a scant 500 survivors of each of these catastrophes. So let's assume that the magnetic poles do in fact reverse every 40,000 years. This would, in effect, truncate our history on this timeline like clockwork, and plunge humanity back into the stone ages. If perhaps we weren't prepared adequately for one of these events, or maybe an "unscheduled" meteor strike occurred, wouldn't we effectively have started back at square one each time?

So my theory, which no doubt would be met with much resistance from more traditional historians, is that the Earth could very well have been terra-formed after our previous home was deemed unfit for any number of reasons. For the moon to have such a cursory role in our planet's habitability, and given that it seems so unlikely that we would by chance have one of it's type, isn't it a reasonable argument that we either built or moved the moon to it's current location many millions of years ago to suit purposes we are only beginning to understand?

I could add more thoughts and details, but will cut it short here. Hopefully, there are enough open-minded people out there to at least give this notion some consideration. Even those involved in the traditional scientific community can't definitively rule out the possibility that humanity's roots stretch back much further than current (scant) evidence shows. Just imagine what people could create through technological innovation, given thousands or even millions of years of unhindered progress. What we've accomplished in the tiny slice of time since the beginning of the Industrial Age is astounding. Considering this fact, the thought of ancient humans migrating and terra-forming in the distant past is not far-fetched in the slightest.

Oh, and one more thing: PIE!


cosmo
Posted 19 February 2008 at 09:08 pm

wow. So if the moon wasn't there we'd have meteors crashing into us everyday...
This was really interesting,
although the only information I'll probably remember is that the moon is making our days longer =) yay


systmh
Posted 19 February 2008 at 09:36 pm

garrett--i have to say that would be an interesting idea. and who knows? time is the great eraser, after all. the prehistoric humans we think we know could just be a lot of survivable bad examples. there are lots of suspiciously advanced ancient races, especially those in the americas. although i can't see how a pole shift could really devolve humanity back to the stone age, there are plenty of other natural phenomena that might obscure advanced lost civilizations.

i must think back to the strange, recently discovered and nearly unexplored ruins of "mu" off the coast of japan(http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=725). that place practically looks like r'lyeh or something. if they are indeed man-made, then they are at least 10,000 years old--far outdating the pyramids of egypt. and i do think they were man-made by looking at them.. i saw footage of a recent scuba diving expedition to the site. they've got an enormous alter in the shape of an equilateral triangle with winged faces carved into the corners, for christ's sake. the 'city' itself is also strangely reminiscent of machu picchu.

whatever the case, our knowledge that far back is cloudy at best. if a culture didn't happen to make enormous monolithic stone sculpture or architecture, it's all but impossible to find any evidence they were even there. plus, archaeologists are filled with dread at the thought of having to dismantle the euro-mesopotamian centered model of the development of civilization. i suspect heel-dragging is involved.


Bash
Posted 19 February 2008 at 11:29 pm

Coincidentally enough I happened to watch an episode of The Universe tonight that pointed out that if the moon was larger or closer we wouldn't be able to observe the suns corona during a solar eclipse.

As the moon continue to move further from the earth we'll eventually reach a point where a total lunar eclipse won't be possible.

Jason, I must say, I've read/seen everything in your article before, but the way you put it together made being reintroduced to it quite enjoyable. You interject enough humor to keep it entertaining with out making the topic seem silly or trivial. Very nice job.


Gil
Posted 20 February 2008 at 12:32 am

Dang it! Bash beat me to the end of solar eclipses bit! Oh well. Still what of the coincidence that the Moon happens to at the right distance and rotation timing such that it is the same visual size as the Sun and faces the same way as to look as though it were a 2-D dimensional disk? A coincidence that helps explain why most ancients were thrown off the mark and thought everything around the Earth. Still if the part of duality causes optimal condition for life is correct then what's stopping life emerging on a binary planet pair? The chances of two proto-planets appearing together at the right distance around a star might not be that rare. Similarly it is said of the magic requirement of water for the basis of life yet it seems water can be surprisingly common, especially at Europa. After all what is water other than a relatively stable molecule of hydrogen corrosion? Then again, it is also said that a star has to be in the same order as the Sun for life - a red star won't generate enough heat for life whereas a blue star generates too much radiation and is too short-lived. As a final thought what of Venus? I think it'd be great if we could drag it away from the Sun to an orbit near the Earth's, give it a little spin to match its 'day' with Earth's, give it a Moon-sized moon (from Jupiter? ;) it's not like Jupiter would miss one anyway!), engage in lotsa global cooling, dump lotsa water (probably from Europa X)) and - voila! - a second habitable planet the same(-ish) size of Earth!

P.S. Whenever are we going to be able to do space warps and get to travel the galaxy! X(


Garrett
Posted 20 February 2008 at 01:34 am

Gil-

Seems to be an intriguing start...

http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=337


Baragla
Posted 20 February 2008 at 02:18 am

Gil said: "...what of Venus? I think it'd be great if we could drag it away from the Sun to an orbit near the Earth's, give it a little spin to match its 'day' with Earth's, give it a Moon-sized moon (from Jupiter? ;) it's not like Jupiter would miss one anyway!), engage in lotsa global cooling, dump lotsa water (probably from Europa X)) and - voila! - a second habitable planet the same(-ish) size of Earth!
"

We don't have to drag Venus farther from the Sun in order to cool it. We just need to dump the right algae/bacteria mix on it and let them brew just the right atmosphere. But what really bugs me is - how do we recreate earth-like gravity ?

And hydrogen corrosion? :) I'm sure someone should trademark this: "Rusty Hydrogen" Bottled Water


Anonymousx2
Posted 20 February 2008 at 05:52 am

Well, just one last post under this name.

For more information on this topic, pick up a copy of Bill Bryson's A Brief History of Nearly Everything.

As is the case with Mr. Bellows' writing, it is erudite yet incredibly readable.


fatal retreat
Posted 20 February 2008 at 07:04 am

cosmo said: "...although the only information I'll probably remember is that the moon is making our days longer =) yay"

i could have sworn the days were getting shorter!
especially when i think of how fast my final exams are coming up... anyway, gotta go hit the books...

good work guys! damn interesting as always! =)


Hoekstes
Posted 20 February 2008 at 07:46 am

budzooka said: "I still can't believe last week was 4.5 billion years ago but if you say so I will believe it."

Ass sphincter said what?

I'm a rare earth theory guy myself. The moon variable is just one of many not taken into account in that bullshit probability of existense of alien life formula quoted in a previous article. I appreciate that you guys aim to give all the applicable arguments instead of just promoting your own viewpoints. Very scientistical of you...


theleaningelm
Posted 20 February 2008 at 09:01 am

DI! It's been a while since an article gave me a good belly and mind workout.

I do feel the need to nitpick on two minor details, however:
...both Earth and its companion...
While Earth has had its share...
[/asshat]


Kao_Valin
Posted 20 February 2008 at 09:15 am

I doubt the rare earth theory is of arrogance. Simply realistic. Circumstances and good timing led to life as it is today. While the engine for life may be hard to stop, higher order life may be hard under harsher circumstances. In a land with huge variability in climate and conditions, why would life invest so much into a long life span and macroscopic endevors? It would appear more efficient that non-stable evironments would have uninvested life forms. Short-lived, fast multiplying life forms would likely be the best choice. These may be the only entities we find on tempermental worlds.

I'm thankful for all the help we can get to stabalize the environment. In fact, let's grab a few more moons if possible. Make a giant rotating sheild of lunas. Of course we ought to coordinate to reduce its effects down here on earth.

Also, about the 24+ hr day. The only thing keeping us at a 24 hour day is work. Since the advent of on demand tv and 24/7 establishments, who needs to be awake at any one hour of the day? If I'm not tired, I dont want to go to sleep, and I shouldnt have to. I want to sleep 7-12 hours if I want, then still get in a 12 hour work day coupled with 10 hours of free time. If we do increase the time for one day outside the scope of the sun, I sure hope it ends with a 5 or a 0. I'm tired of multiplying weird numbers like 24, 60, and 365. We could just go to 50 hours in a day (adjusted from 30-35 of our current hours) then use 100 seconds instead of 60, etc, etc. Time is our tool, not our boss. How else are we going to invent time traveling phone booths and police boxes? Wow, my appoligies for stretching the topic heh.


smokefoot
Posted 20 February 2008 at 09:43 am

martym said: "I don't understand how any of this really "proves" a rare earth theory.

It definitely doesn't prove the rare earth theory - I am not sure we will be able to prove/disprove it until we can start cataloging planets of earth size in nearby solar systems (only a decade or two away under current plans!)

What it says is that, perhaps, we needed the moon for life of Earth to take root the way it did. That does not mean other planets without a moon just like earth couldn't have a stable axis, vast coastlines, or a rotation that wasn't extreme.

Though to have the stable axis we would have to have another stabilization scheme.

Also, if you think about it, we have had an "extinction" event. Whatever wiped out the dinosaurs. Except, clearly, lots of life survived that event, new adaptions were made, and life marched forward. Earth has so much going for it, even extreme events can't wipe out life.

Actually there is evidence for six (if I remember correctly) extinction events - some a lot more extreme than the dinosaur one, though we don't know if they were all caused by extra-terrestrial bodies. What Jason was saying is that there would be far more of them without the moon (though I thought Jupiter was more important in this respect, sweeping up debris around the solar system leaving less to hit us).


Guy_Inagorillasuit
Posted 20 February 2008 at 09:57 am

Dean, we sort-of do have a second moon: http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/solarsystem/second_moon_991029.html

Also: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/2251386.stm

Personally, I am hoping for Basidium, myself. :-)


smokefoot
Posted 20 February 2008 at 09:58 am

Garrett said:
The "missing link" that many creationists and others tout as reason to not believe in evolution may just be so far buried in the distant past that it is now impossible to unearth it. I am of the firm belief that human beings are so amazingly advanced and show such tremendous promise, that is it not unreasonable to think that we've been around for hundreds of millions of years or more.

Are you saying that humans predate the earliest primates? The earliest primates are 60 million years old, and the size of a shrew. Since humans are clearly primates, where would we have come from?

Also, I am not sure that the reversal of the magnetic poles are that big a disaster - why would an advanced civilization collapse? From slightly higher radiation exposure? The atmosphere would still shield us from most of it.


smokefoot
Posted 20 February 2008 at 10:09 am

Baragla said: "We don't have to drag Venus farther from the Sun in order to cool it. We just need to dump the right algae/bacteria mix on it and let them brew just the right atmosphere. But what really bugs me is - how do we recreate earth-like gravity ?

Venus' temperature is hot enough to melt lead - we don't have any algae/bacteria which will live at those temperatures. Could they be designed? It would require some extreme changes to even to most heat-loving extremophiles we have now.


Guy_Inagorillasuit
Posted 20 February 2008 at 11:49 am

Smokefoot, as I understand it the idea is to seed the upper reaches of the cytherian atmosphere and let the little guys do their thing where it is nice and cool. Over some thousands of years they would drift downward as the lower strata cooled. That's the plan, anyway, supposedly. Too bad the place didn't turn out to be a big Carboniferous swamp, as many scientists thought as little as a hundred years ago. Or a planet-wide ocean.

Baragla: Venus's gravity is about 91% of ours -- you wouldn't notice a difference.


Rushwan Dizaye
Posted 20 February 2008 at 12:11 pm

I would agree with this article more if we knew more about extraterrestrial life; It's my guess that life will form on a planet whether or not it has a moon, or a moon like ours. We used to think Mars had canals, and that the surface of Venus was one big ocean.


Inti
Posted 20 February 2008 at 12:26 pm

kiwi-guy said: "I'm absolutely intrigued by the relative size/distance ratio of the moon and the sun, giving us an almost perfect 1:1 solar eclipse."

Bash said: "Coincidentally enough I happened to watch an episode of The Universe tonight that pointed out that if the moon was larger or closer we wouldn't be able to observe the suns corona during a solar eclipse. As the moon continue to move further from the earth we'll eventually reach a point where a total lunar eclipse won't be possible."

Gil said: "Dang it! Bash beat me to the end of solar eclipses bit! Oh well. Still what of the coincidence that the Moon happens to at the right distance and rotation timing such that it is the same visual size as the Sun and faces the same way as to look as though it were a 2-D dimensional disk?"

The 1:1 ratio is something that has always bothered me in terms of the probabilities for such a thing to happen, that and the issue with the light face of the moon always on top of us. However, let´s keep in mind this almost perfect ratio is only transitory, won´t last too long, perhaps longer after we get extinct, who knows. The synchronous rotation may have a more satisfactory explanation in terms of gravitational dynamics. In any case, and returning to the probability thing, there is good evidence to think that the probability of us being is very small (The Drake Equation, http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=219#more-219), that summed to the probability of having the moon we have (including the 1:1 ratio "gift") results in a diminutive chance for things to be as they are now relative to our own perception of the universe. This however, I consider, is not sufficient reason to think life is rare in the universe, especially considering how little we know about the origins of life (the biochemical aspects of it), the size of the universe (infinite?), and the unavoidable consequences of probability theory, specially when populations are large (i.e. the universe).


baconbits
Posted 20 February 2008 at 01:45 pm

4.5 million years ago...last week...crap, my calendar shows that as next week...
guess that what you get buying the calendar on sale ;)
DI, good work!


LogicGate
Posted 20 February 2008 at 03:35 pm

smokefoot said: "Are you saying that humans predate the earliest primates? The earliest primates are 60 million years old, and the size of a shrew. Since humans are clearly primates, where would we have come from?

Also, I am not sure that the reversal of the magnetic poles are that big a disaster - why would an advanced civilization collapse? From slightly higher radiation exposure? The atmosphere would still shield us from most of it."

Actually, it's a bit more complicated than that; our atmosphere has very little to do with deflecting deadly cosmic rays. Were we to experience a period of even moderate duration absent the magnetosphere it would sterilize the planet. Yet another factor in the Rare Earth model....
"Reversals take a few thousand years to complete, and during that time--contrary to popular belief--the magnetic field does not vanish, it just gets more complicated. Magnetic lines of force near Earth's surface become twisted and tangled, and magnetic poles pop up in unaccustomed places. A south magnetic pole might emerge over Africa, for instance, or a north pole over Tahiti. Weird. But it's still a planetary magnetic field, and it still protects us from space radiation and solar storms."
Paraphrased as a succinct statement from:
http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2003/29dec_magneticfield.htm
Interesting reading and really a LOT more complicated than the simple statement above. The topic would make a DI article!


Silverhill
Posted 20 February 2008 at 04:18 pm

Inti said: "The 1:1 ratio is something that has always bothered me in terms of the probabilities for such a thing to happen..."
It's not a matter of probability, overall; if Luna began as a nearby object and moved outward (as seems to be the case), then at some point its disk will necessarily match that of Sol's. What is a matter of pure chance is that the 1:1 condition exists during modern times, when we're here to appreciate it. As you noted,
"...let's keep in mind this almost perfect ratio is only transitory, won't last too long..."

"...the issue with the light face of the moon always on top of us."
Eh? The near side of Luna is actually darker, overall, than the far side, because of the extensive maria.
"The synchronous rotation may have a more satisfactory explanation in terms of gravitational dynamics."
That, and the dynamics of inertia and dissipative effects.

LogicGate said: "Actually, it's a bit more complicated than that; our atmosphere has very little to do with deflecting deadly cosmic rays. Were we to experience a period of even moderate duration absent the magnetosphere it would sterilize the planet. Yet another factor in the Rare Earth model...."
Not so, fortunately. Some cosmic radiation makes it through the magnetic field, but the atmosphere absorbs almost all of those, being equal in that task to about three meters' thickness of stone. (Two meters' thickness is considered to be enough shielding for, say, space habitats.)
Some of the secondary cosmic rays, produced by the primaries' collisions with air molecules, do reach the ground, but are both much less energetic and much more diffuse. They represent very little health hazard, although people who live or work at high altitudes do have a somewhat elevated risk of damage.


Jeffrey93
Posted 20 February 2008 at 05:33 pm

DI Article...funny too. Not so crazy about the ending though, bit of a bummer.
How am I supposed to fill a 9,600 hour day? And payday isn't for another week!!


budzooka
Posted 20 February 2008 at 10:44 pm

P.S> as a postscript...
Twas Tonight 4.5 billion years ago tonight that we all got to see the lunar eclipse. Couldn't really see it from here. But the clouds sure glowed orange.


supercalafragalistic
Posted 20 February 2008 at 11:10 pm

Not to get my Worldlets in a bunch here but I can't believe no one's mentioned what happens when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza PIE! I'd love to see the look on the Don's distinguished face of intellectualism as he enters into this giggle-ridden plethora of silliness. The lunar eclipse tonight is supposed to be in the 12th house of careers according to what I read in my astrology- whatever that means!

Here's a classic to add to the fun:
One blonde says to the other, "Which do you think is farther away..........Florida or the moon?" The other blonde turns and says "Helloooooooooo!!! can you see Florida.......?????"


SoxSweepAgain
Posted 21 February 2008 at 02:56 am

FIRST said: "first"

Big freaking deal. So what?

STFU.


vinayaknp
Posted 21 February 2008 at 03:11 am

Very DI indeed!! Just wondering how the last photo in the article relates to the article..


Anonymousx2
Posted 21 February 2008 at 04:36 am

vinayaknp said: "Very DI indeed!! Just wondering how the last photo in the article relates to the article.."

It has to do with the full moon's connection to lycanthropy. Consider this little ditty from the original The Wolf Man:

Even a man who is pure in heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wolf_Man


Richard Solensky
Posted 21 February 2008 at 05:24 am

Larry Talbot: You don't understand. Every night when the moon is full, I turn into a wolf.
Wilbur Grey: You and twenty million other guys.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

Couldn't resist....


Mikell
Posted 21 February 2008 at 10:10 am

4.5 Billion years ago LAST WEEK?? Damn, if I had know in advance, I would have baked a cake or something.


Radiatidon
Posted 21 February 2008 at 10:31 am

Moon stuff eh. I recall one time seeing a bright and glossy moon. It was so clear you could count the pockmarks that covered the thing. That nasty crack and scraggly hair… disgusting… eh, what… oh, sorry that was some jerk at a college football game that mooned a field camera. Sucker enjoyed three seconds of alabaster glory on the big screen before the camera feeds were switched.

With a rumble the tapered end, tubular device left the crack of the moon to finally plummet into the blue waters of the porcelain sea. Modified wood fiber boats joined the craft bobbing in the cool waters prior to the storm. With a roar the tranquil waters erupted into a froth tipped frenzy as the once mighty craft and its convoy of fragile, yet slightly scented, quilted boats were pulled into the dark abyss of the porcelain sea with a total loss of all occupants aboard them.

Now that that is out of my system, how about some interesting facts, eh?

Did you know that when the Apollo 12 landed on the moon, the Moon’s surface vibrated for almost 55 minutes? The Moon’s face as you know is a mixture of light and dark patches. The dark patches are basins filled with basalt. The Earth itself has its own basalt filled basin, which is viewable from space. It is located in the fossilized lava fields of Idaho’s Snake River Basin, in which Craters of The Moon national Park is part. By the way, the Apollo Astronauts actually trained in Idaho’s lava fields prior to the Moon Missions.

When the Apollo 11’s lunar lander was on approach to the Moon, the onboard computer began giving off warning signals. NASA scrambled to discover the source though the Astronauts were told to continue their approach. The error, 1202, indicated a memory overload. The computer kept resetting itself and continued to monitor the essential systems required for touchdown. Problem was, each reset caused a few seconds delay in very crucial descent vectors required for a safe landing. These few seconds added up and resulted in a three-mile miss of the intended landing zone. With the limited computer resources, this was a dilemma that was not included in the programming.

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were now descending into a hazardous, car-sized boulder strewn, and uneven ground of the West Crater. Neil Armstrong turned off the Autopilot and took control of the LEM. Cruising blindly over unmapped terrain, the crew searched frantically for a possible LZ, while NASA counted down the fuel used until Bingo time. Bingo is when they had no choice but to abort the mission with enough fuel to reach orbit. Neil Armstrong told NASA they had a viable LZ with only 90 seconds left on the burn clock and Bingo point. He proceeded to maneuver for a landing by adjusting altitude and pitch of the craft. He surpassed Bingo and continued to work the LEM for, and this is on the record, the best Lunar Landing of them all. When he said the immortal words, The Eagle has landed, the LEM had less than twenty seconds of fuel. You also have to realize that he did this dead stick with no backup computer, and by looking out the window.

NASA called MIT and demanded what had happened. Why did the computer give the error? We are due to launch in 24 hours and cannot take a chance of system’s failure. Those boys deserve a healthy bird, and you need to fix it, and fix it now.

It took all night running simulations with NASA calling every 15 to 20 minutes. Dude, no pressure!

Then they discovered a possibility. In a chance encounter with Engineer George Silver, who usually sent all his time at the MIT satellite office at Cape Kennedy, a tech asked him in frustration if George had ever seen the computer run slowly or at reduce capacity. He replied that a condition called ”Cycle Stealing” can occur. This happens when the Operating system tries to find data that is not coming in. One example he had seen was when the Rendezvous Radar Switch was on and the systems for Ascent and docking with the mother craft were not.

Need Input! Need more Input!

I’m sorry Dave, I ‘m afraid I can’t do that -- Just what do you think your doing Dave -- Are you sure your making the right decision -- Daisy, daisy -- Dave… my mind is going… I can feel it… I can feel it…

Pinback: All right, bomb. Prepare to receive new orders.
Bomb #20: You are false data.
Pinback: Whaa?
Bomb #20: Therefore I shall ignore you.
Pinback: Hello? Bomb?
Bomb #20: False data can act only as a distraction. Therefore, I shall refuse to perceive.
Pinback: Hey, BOMB?
Bomb #20: The only thing that exists is myself.
Pinback: Snap out of it, bomb.
Bomb #20: In the beginning there was darkness. And the darkness was without form and void.
Pinback: Umm. What the hell is he talking about? Bomb?
Bomb #20: And in addition to the darkness there was also me. And I moved upon the face of the darkness and I saw that I was alone.
Pinback: Hey.....bomb?
Bomb #20: Let There Be Light.

The heavens brighten with a planet-destroying explosion, and of the ship, her crew, and Bomb #20? They have become as one…

A quick check discovered that the telemetry printout showed the RRS was turned on during Descent, but why? The RRS was only required after liftoff of the LEM, not for Descent. Telemetry showed that during pre-check before liftoff, and then again before the LEM disconnected from the mother ship showed the RRS was off. Only one of the Astronauts could have turned it on.

It was discovered that in the training manual the switch position was incorrectly labeled as being turned on prior to the LEM’s descent. The mock landing performed before the mission used a setup where the RRS had not been connected during the simulations, so the computer error never occurred during training, an oversight that almost ended in disaster.


Inti
Posted 21 February 2008 at 11:03 am

Silverhill said: "It's not a matter of probability..."
. Post # 58

Ok, thanks for clarifying as always. Specifically, I was referring to the probability of us being conscious beings, and having the chance to admire the "ring" of solar eclipses. This led me to think about a kind of misleading anthropocentrism when we all tend to think that the actual conditions of certain characteristics of the universe are unique and special. Let us think about the actual conditions of the moon, which are just transitory and will change probably with negative effects over the actual "beneficial" conditions on Earth, perhaps leaving it lifeless. It may be that the current state of the universe provides exactly the right conditions for the evolution of consciousness, and therefore for our awe to such apparently beautiful and probabilistically rare situations as the 1:1 ratio in solar eclipses. Perhaps those right conditions are only local in nature, and of course transitory. In any case, we all know that the universe will be finally shredded apart by the effects of Dark Energy (http://hubblesite.org/hubble_discoveries/), then there will be no more room for consciousness, beauty, love or pain, not even for matter as we know it these days.

Amen.


2cents
Posted 21 February 2008 at 01:33 pm

A solution to the aging suns problem.
Shoot rockets with viagra payloads at the sun, thus preventing it from begoming a Red Giant.
Oops that may increase that likelyhood ;)


kiwi-guy
Posted 21 February 2008 at 02:02 pm

Radiatidon said: "... how about some interesting facts, eh?
"

Indeed fascinating. No offense Don, but this is sort of stuff is everywhere. I'm not sure if recycling the web for these pages is really what it's about.

( Cringe - I'd better put on my asbestos underwear.)


Radiatidon
Posted 21 February 2008 at 03:10 pm

kiwi-guy said: "Indeed fascinating. No offense Don, but this is sort of stuff is everywhere.
( Cringe - I'd better put on my asbestos underwear.)"

Why the flame proof? Sampled some over the top mexi refri?

Most of the facts both in the articles and in the comments section can be scoured from the web. Bringing them together is what makes an interesting read. The things I listed were information that I heard/read back in the 1970's and not off some web-site, though I am sure that information is more than likely both in the NASA sites and tons of other Apollo Moon mission related sites.

The movie quotes, hey what can I say, I saw the shows and remembered them. I did do a script search on the net to get the quotes right for both 2001 and Dark Star computer dialogs. The Short Circuit robot's were easy to pull from the dark morass of my mind though. Hey, a fellow's memory is only so good.

A friend of my was involved in the Apollo program when Apollo 1 had the fire that claimed the lives of Gus' Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chaffe. My friend said that security was so tight after the fire that officials were visiting people's homes and requesting personal notes and diaries of those working on the project.

There, find that tidbit on the net. ;)


oldmancoyote
Posted 21 February 2008 at 08:56 pm

Nice ref to Dark Star, Don. I truly hope that is not the direction we are moving with smart bomb technology.


Anonymousx2
Posted 22 February 2008 at 03:33 am

Richard Solensky said: "Larry Talbot: You don't understand. Every night when the moon is full, I turn into a wolf.

Wilbur Grey: You and twenty million other guys.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

Couldn't resist…."

I understand.

On the hand, I never need a full moon to become a wolf. It's a permanent state. I think that most of us men fall into that category.


BrianTung
Posted 22 February 2008 at 10:46 am

From the article: "This same gravimetric drag will one day slow Earth to match the pace of the moon's orbit."

No, it probably won't. It won't have time. If, as you say, the Earth and Moon become mutually tidally locked at a period of 9,600 hours (40 current Earth days), it will take longer than the lifetime of the Sun for them to do so. The day is currently lengthening at a rate of about one second every 62,500 years. At that rate, it would take a bit over 200 billion years for the day to lengthen to 9,600 hours. By comparison, the Sun will take perhaps 6 or 7 billion years to enter the red giant phase. Even if the Sun doesn't actually engulf the Earth and Moon (and that's far from guaranteed), I think it will disrupt them enough to prevent mutual tidal locking.

It's also far from clear that the Moon's tidal influence is the principal (or even a significant) factor in plate tectonics. There's some evidence of a tidal bias in plate motion, but that's certainly not proof that we wouldn't have plate tectonics without the Moon. There's evidence, for instance, that Venus had plate tectonics as recently as half a billion years ago. Of course, it might have had a satellite then, but that's also hardly evidence of anything.

Freebs72 (#21): The asteroid belt, in total, has a mass of about 0.5 percent of Mars. It would therefore represent a negligible addition to Mars's mass or diameter.


BrianTung
Posted 22 February 2008 at 11:07 am

Inti said: "The 1:1 ratio is something that has always bothered me in terms of the probabilities for such a thing to happen, that and the issue with the light face of the moon always on top of us. However, let´s keep in mind this almost perfect ratio is only transitory, won't last too long, perhaps longer after we get extinct, who knows."

We have had total solar eclipses for a few hundred million years already, and we'll continue to have them for a few hundred million more. So given the size of the Moon and its slow recession rate, our seeing them in the modern epoch is interesting, but not tremendously unlikely. It's the unusually large size of the Moon that is really the unlikely part of the solar eclipse equation.

Silverhill wrote: "It's not a matter of probability, overall; if Luna began as a nearby object and moved outward (as seems to be the case), then at some point its disk will necessarily match that of Sol's."

I suspect not. You assume that it would have been large enough at the start. The Earth's Roche radius--the distance beneath which the Moon would break up due to the Earth's tidal influence--is something in the neighborhood of 30,000 km. The Moon therefore cannot form anywhere closer than that. At that distance, the Moon would have to be at least about 250 km across to cover the Sun, as seen from Earth. None of the other terrestrial planets have a satellite anywhere near that size; two of them don't have satellites to speak of at all. It's by no means a foregone conclusion that any given satellite would have produced 1:1 total solar eclipses at some point.

Baragla wrote: "We don't have to drag Venus farther from the Sun in order to cool it. We just need to dump the right algae/bacteria mix on it and let them brew just the right atmosphere. But what really bugs me is - how do we recreate earth-like gravity?"

The right bacterial mix doesn't exist yet--most can't survive Venusian conditions (at least, not on the surface), and those that can wouldn't produce the right atmosphere for the rest of us surface dwellers. Perhaps the right bacteria could be engineered, but than that puts it in the same science-fiction realm that the other terraforming proposals fall under. (There are others.) The Earth-like gravity wouldn't be a major issue; Venus already has a surface gravity about 90 percent that of Earth's. I'm pretty sure that's close enough for most purposes.


BrianTung
Posted 22 February 2008 at 11:12 am

Oops, the Roche limit is a bit closer than I thought--more like 18,000 km for a then-fluid body. So more like 150 km as the minimum size. That's still a pretty big satellite for the Earth, though obviously more likely than one 250 km across.


Baragla
Posted 22 February 2008 at 12:07 pm

Thank you Guy_Inagorillasuit and BrianTung for putting me straight on the Venus gravity issue. However, I want to throw this back at you: how do you adjust a planet's (say Mars') gravity to match that of Earth?
I mean, first off you dump some bug on the surface who will fart oxygen for the next million years. I can understand how this would work.
But to complete terraforming, you have to insure that brave future astro-settlers won't develop into gnomes or, the other extreme: some sort of giant octopuses....


BrianTung
Posted 22 February 2008 at 12:33 pm

Baragla said: "Thank you Guy_Inagorillasuit and BrianTung for putting me straight on the Venus gravity issue. However, I want to throw this back at you: how do you adjust a planet's (say Mars') gravity to match that of Earth?"

You can't, really. If it isn't already close to that of Earth (as the gravity of Venus is), nothing you do will make it close.

However, depending on what your application is, you could simulate higher gravity over small areas. For instance, a centrifuge can simulate Earth gravity, to first order, within the inner surface of the centrifuge. However, there are sizable second-order effects (sort of like tidal effects) unless the centrifuge is really, really large. Or, if you're just concerned about floating off somewhere (say, if you're on an asteroid), then elastic tethers attached to magnetic blocks on a metal floor might help.

Aside from such measures, however, there's not much else you can do. The only physically plausible way we know of to increase a planet's surface gravity is to increase its mass, or decrease its radius, or both. Both of those present (currently) insurmountable engineering problems as far as non-trivial gravity increases are concerned.


Silverhill
Posted 22 February 2008 at 04:28 pm

BrianTung said: "You assume that [Luna] would have been large enough at the start. At [Roche-limit] distance, the Moon would have to be at least about [150-250] km across to cover the Sun, as seen from Earth. ... It's by no means a foregone conclusion that any given satellite would have produced 1:1 total solar eclipses at some point."
Not any given satellite, no. But I have indeed been assuming that Luna, after the coalescence of the impact debris, was essentially its current size, which (as we know) is much greater than 250 km. Also, I believe that the majority of the impact debris began coalescing well beyond the Roche limit...in fact, it would have had to do so, in order that tidal forces would not strongly interfere with the coalescence.
So, Luna has always been large enough and close enough to occult Sol; only the closeness has been declining.


DaveS
Posted 22 February 2008 at 05:38 pm

Radiatidon said: "Moon stuff eh.
When the Apollo 11’s lunar lander was on approach to the Moon, the onboard computer began giving off warning signals. NASA scrambled to discover the source though the Astronauts were told to continue their approach. The error, 1202, indicated a memory overload."

I don't think so. It was areal-time constraint violation, not a "memory overload". It was a round-robin system, interrupt fed.

The computer kept resetting itself and continued to monitor the essential systems required for touchdown.

Sort of. Buzz Aldrin was actually the one pushing the rest button.

Problem was, each reset caused a few seconds delay in very crucial descent vectors required for a safe landing. These few seconds added up and resulted in a three-mile miss of the intended landing zone. With the limited computer resources, this was a dilemma that was not included in the programming.

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were now descending into a hazardous, car-sized boulder strewn, and uneven ground of the West Crater. Neil Armstrong turned off the Autopilot and took control of the LEM. Cruising blindly over unmapped terrain, the crew searched frantically for a possible LZ, while NASA counted down the fuel used until Bingo time. Bingo is when they had no choice but to abort the mission with enough fuel to reach orbit.

No. The descent engine is separate, including a separate fuel supply, from the ascent
engine. Bingo time is the point at which you have to stop the descent, even if you're not
on the surface, in order to launch the ascent section off the descent section.

Neil Armstrong told NASA they had a viable LZ with only 90 seconds left on the burn clock and Bingo point. He proceeded to maneuver for a landing by adjusting altitude and pitch of the craft. He surpassed Bingo and continued to work the LEM for, and this is on the record, the best Lunar Landing of them all. When he said the immortal words, The Eagle has landed, the LEM had less than twenty seconds of fuel. You also have to realize that he did this dead stick with no backup computer, and by looking out the window.

'Dead stick' usually means the engine is dead. Not in this case. He had power all the way down. And his computer was telling him, through Buzz, vertical and horizontal velocities and altitude.

NASA called MIT and demanded what had happened. Why did the computer give the error? We are due to launch in 24 hours and cannot take a chance of system’s failure. Those boys deserve a healthy bird, and you need to fix it, and fix it now.

It took all night running simulations with NASA calling every 15 to 20 minutes. Dude, no pressure!

Then they discovered a possibility. In a chance encounter with Engineer George Silver, who usually sent all his time at the MIT satellite office at Cape Kennedy, a tech asked him in frustration if George had ever seen the computer run slowly or at reduce capacity. He replied that a condition called ”Cycle Stealing” can occur. This happens when the Operating system tries to find data that is not coming in. One example he had seen was when the Rendezvous Radar Switch was on and the systems for Ascent and docking with the mother craft were not.

Need Input! Need more Input!

Not quite. The radar was an interrupt, which fed distance data that was discarded. But that took clock cycles to service the interrupt, and it wasn't counted-on during descent, when the computer was heavily loaded, that is, close to the real-time constaint.

The real amazing feat was that one engineer in Houston got the 1202 alarm, which he knew was the real-time constraint. See, normally round-robin means that you do all the tasks around the circle, then wait at the end of the circle until the main cycle clock interrupt comes, then do it again. The real-time constraint says that you have to get it all done before that clock comes, and if you don't, it means you didn't get something done. Well, the engineer knew that something wasn't getting done, but he didn't have the piece of information to tell him by how far he missed the constraint, and so what didn't get done. All he knew was that the most important things are done first, as a matter of design. So he gave a GO very much in the dark.

You forgot to mention the last bit of drama on that flight. When were done with all their moon walks and were doing the checklist to launch the ascent section, they found that in doffing and donning their suits, someone had bumped the panel and knocked a button off. The button was the one that armed the ascent engine!

Buzz Aldrin looked around, and found a part of his pen (the famous one with the pressurized ink tank so as to work in zero-G--the Russians just used pencils) that he could shove in the gaping hole and make contact, and a little later that pen saved their lives, as they pushed the fire button of the now armed ascent engine and left the moon.


Silverhill
Posted 22 February 2008 at 10:14 pm

The Russians just used pencils, indeed---but NASA was concerned about bits of graphite getting loose from a pencil (whether a broken tip or remnants from sharpening). Since graphite is conductive, they didn't want to risk electrical shorts from it drifting into things. (They certainly didn't want any more catastrophic electrical problems, such as destroyed Apollo I...)


DaveS
Posted 23 February 2008 at 12:58 am

Silverhill said: "The Russians just used pencils, indeed—but NASA was concerned about bits of graphite getting loose from a pencil (whether a broken tip or remnants from sharpening). Since graphite is conductive, they didn't want to risk electrical shorts from it drifting into things. (They certainly didn't want any more catastrophic electrical problems, such as destroyed Apollo I…)"

And of course if they'd used pencils, Neil and Buzz would still be on the moon.


rev.felix
Posted 23 February 2008 at 01:46 am

Yes, Eskimos.


K8theGr8
Posted 23 February 2008 at 05:32 am

Wow! I never knew the Moon was so crucial for our life and being. And, not only was the post infomative (in a Damn Interesting way), it also had some humor. It's an awesome article.


cybrbeast
Posted 23 February 2008 at 05:36 am

I'd like to point out that even without the moon you could still surf. The tides are extremely long waves that are not be visible or surfable. The waves you see on the beach are waves caused by wind and especially storms a long way out of the coast. These then travel towards the beach, that's also why surfing conditions are so variable, cause they depend on the weather out to sea. If there was no wind but only tides you would see no waves.


krs-10
Posted 23 February 2008 at 08:27 am

Love the pie
just wanted to add to creation theory or evolution comment
George Carlin's latest comedy special, George said he now worships the sun because it is always reliable, every day it comes up and every evening it goes down and there are really no expectations from him. always funny


StarGazingRomantic
Posted 23 February 2008 at 01:32 pm

First!!!......why? because this is my first post on this site. It was good to learn the not-so-known things about the moon. Atleast, the books that I read never told me that it played such an important role in our existance. By the way, taking about heavenly bodies, is it possible that you could see (through a binocular, that is) a red light blinking from a far away object in the sky that remains fixed in its position over time? could it be a satellite? Do satellites have red bulbs attached to them, sort of beacons?


Silverhill
Posted 23 February 2008 at 07:13 pm

No, there are no beacon lights on satellites. You may be seeing an aircraft-warning light on a radio/TV tower---such lights are meant to be visible far away, and they are of course immobile. Binoculars might help you resolve the lamp, if it's not too far away.


A-Train72
Posted 25 February 2008 at 02:38 am

You know reading articles like this and all the comments that go along with makes me realise... We know nothing about the universe. Maybe its human nature to assume we are smarter than we really are. In truth we are just clumps of carbon with a very short life span clinging to a rock floating around the sun. What if we are just microbes to some far greater beings? Like in the end of Men In Black :) Man is that something to wrap your head around or what??


smokefoot
Posted 25 February 2008 at 10:09 am

A-Train72 said: "You know reading articles like this and all the comments that go along with makes me realise… We know nothing about the universe. .."

You are right - we know far, far more than we did 100 or even 20 years ago, but there is so much that is unknown. We know about stars and what they are like, and we know how they collect in galaxies, and we are just starting to find out stuff about other planets - but some of the most interesting questions are still unanswered: Are there other planets like ours? Is there life on them? Is it mostly just bacteria and algae, or animals? Is there any other intelligent life?


Inti
Posted 25 February 2008 at 10:14 am

krs-10 said: "Love the pie
just wanted to add to creation theory or evolution comment
George Carlin's latest comedy special, George said he now worships the sun because it is always reliable, every day it comes up and every evening it goes down and there are really no expectations from him. always funny"

Worshiping the sun was actually not a joke, but a full fledged religion for many ancestral cultures. The Incas, Mayas, and Aztecs in the Neotropics, the Egyptians in the African continent. There should be many more examples. The Incas also worshipped the moon as a feminine deity. Nevertheless, it makes to me much more sense to be grateful and worship a magnificent celestial entity as the Sol or Luna that nurtures or provides the necessary conditions for life, rather than to believe in some kind of twisted monotheistic-androcentric god.


Ironclaw
Posted 25 February 2008 at 03:11 pm

baconbits said: "4.5 million years ago…last week…crap, my calendar shows that as next week…
guess that what you get buying the calendar on sale ;)
"

Thats what you get for buying a Gregorian Calender!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregorian_calendar

"The Gregorian calendar system dropped 10 days to bring the calendar back into synchronization with the seasons and, to keep it there, adopted the ... leap year rule"

Er close enough anyway..


Guy_Inagorillasuit
Posted 26 February 2008 at 02:26 pm

Another interesting thing about the moon landings was that each added about the same amount of gas to the extremely thin lunar "atmosphere" as was already there. Pretty thin envelope, that. Or, viewed another way, an obscene amount of pollution.


go_away
Posted 27 February 2008 at 09:52 am

I don't really care to read anything on this site. I'm just posting here now to stray off topic to promote my own agenda, argue with you because I already know you are obviously and completely wrong, call you names, ridicule your beliefs and generally be a pain in the ....what?...oh....wait....guess that's already being done....never mind.....bye...


Radiatidon
Posted 27 February 2008 at 02:33 pm

DaveS said: "I don't think so. It was areal-time constraint violation, not a "memory overload". It was a round-robin system, interrupt fed.

You are correct. But the system only had 2k words of usable RAM with each word consisting of 15 bits plus a parity bit. The remaining memory was 36k words of hardwired ROM. When the Ascent radar was causing the interrupt, it cost around 15% of the computer’s processing time (or 11.7 microseconds) and also utilized a good portion of already dedicated RAM memory. This caused both a memory overrun in the system and a performance degradation of processing power.

DaveS said: " Sort of. Buzz Aldrin was actually the one pushing the rest button.”

Thanks, I really did not know this. :)

DaveS said: "No. The descent engine is separate, including a separate fuel supply, from the ascent engine. Bingo time is the point at which you have to stop the descent, even if you're not on the surface, in order to launch the ascent section off the descent section.”

That is true, but in order to utilize the Ascent Stage in an abort, the Decent Stage must have enough fuel to reach an altitude of over 80 meters. Reason being that there are three very important steps:

1. The two sections (Ascent and Descent) don’t just pop apart. Systems have to be activated to perform the necessary actions to uncouple the various clamps, electrical, hydraulic, and backup systems.

2. The Ascent fuel system has to pressurize and the engine lit to prepare for full thrust.

3. During this time the LEM is being drawn back towards the moon. This means that the Ascent section, once uncoupled from the Descent section, must now overcome its downward velocity before impacting with the Lunar Surface.

As you can see, Bingo was for the calculated amount of Descent Stage fuel required for the above actions. ;)

DaveS said: "You forgot to mention the last bit of drama … someone had bumped the panel and knocked a button off. The button was the one that armed the ascent engine!"

Aw, give an old guy a break DaveS, just can’t remember all the neat things. But thanks for the refresher; I recall the big hoopla about that pen now though. :)


Radiatidon
Posted 27 February 2008 at 02:35 pm

Oops, sorry for the weird format on that last post. Forgot to close my quotes each time. I'm bad.


Cmonkee
Posted 27 February 2008 at 05:37 pm

DI article. nicely done.

you think with as important as the moon is to us, we'd be a little nicer to it:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23371839/


Monolith
Posted 27 February 2008 at 09:38 pm

Bravo. Ok, who farted?


Richard Solensky
Posted 28 February 2008 at 05:50 am

Just trying to fix the close quotes...


Escape
Posted 28 February 2008 at 12:06 pm

Please reference http://www.angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif for proper usage of the apostrophe. "It's" is a contraction of "it is" -- i.e., It's the moon. "Its" is the possessive of "it" -- i.e., the Earth and its satellite.


Stead311
Posted 28 February 2008 at 04:09 pm

Sooo.... it has been 10 days.. where is the next article...

OHH! Better question.... its been like... a year now... can we PLEASE get some information on this mysterious DAMN INTERESTING BOOK THAT IS COMING OUT. I have been starring at my DI magnet for roughly a year now.. and.. although it is truly a beautiful magnet... I would like nothing more than to get a book which I have donated to. I would like to be alive when it comes out! Come on people.

Start a RALLY WITH ME. Not just to get the book but even a scrap of information about its production! RIGHT GUYS? Guys....? Anyone?


Tink
Posted 29 February 2008 at 03:44 pm

Stead311 said: "Sooo…. it has been 10 days.. where is the next article…

OHH! Better question…. its been like… a year now… can we PLEASE get some information on this mysterious DAMN INTERESTING BOOK THAT IS COMING OUT. I have been starring at my DI magnet for roughly a year now.. and.. although it is truly a beautiful magnet… I would like nothing more than to get a book which I have donated to. I would like to be alive when it comes out! Come on people.

Start a RALLY WITH ME. Not just to get the book but even a scrap of information about its production! RIGHT GUYS? Guys….? Anyone?"

Yep! Seems the donations petered out or stopped being posted awhile ago.
We know Alan has had a job change, and several writers quit the project. Hince the call for fresh material/contribitors. Seems like the whole feel of the site has changed, too, (for this one,anyway).
The "im not a troll's " came in and posting unique ideas or questions wasn't fun anymore, because suddenly one was blasted from the sidelines with insults, criticisim, or off topic debate.
Glad to see your hanging in there. Am beginning to see some of the old names coming back, (on tip-toe lol). Hey Alan, we would like to know how you are doing! That Would be some DI! news.
Oh and thanks for the moonificent article Jason, now tell us, where did you hide your fathers body? .....;-}


Jonas
Posted 09 March 2008 at 09:37 am

Call that interesting? Well, here's some damninteresting stuff about the moon formation and other implications. http://www.brojon.org/frontpage/WHAT_REALLY_KILLED_THE_DINOSAURS.html
Have a look!


Jonas
Posted 09 March 2008 at 09:42 am

As about the moonlanding, you still believe that hoax? Have a thorough look at all of the suggested sources and bookmark Bart Sibrel's damninteresting page: http://www.moonmovie.com/


Silverhill
Posted 10 March 2008 at 04:32 pm

Jonas, please adjust your aluminum-foil helmet; it has apparently fallen in front of your eyes. When you get it set right, you'll be able to read and---it is hoped!---understand the multiple silliness (and error, and [seeming] libel) presented at those BroJon and MoonMovie websites.
Then, go pursue the presentations available through the various links at physicist Phil Plait's "Bad Astronomy" website, which debunk all of the conspiracy buffs' claims.
You'll need to bring some basic knowledge of math and physics with you. If you don't have that, get some right away---your life will be improved by it. (For instance, you won't waste any more time being fooled by such nonsense as you have linked to here.)


sid
Posted 17 March 2008 at 09:11 pm

Silverhill said: "Jonas, please adjust your aluminum-foil helmet; it has apparently fallen in front of your eyes. When you get it set right, you'll be able to read and—it is hoped!—understand the multiple silliness (and error, and [seeming] libel) presented at those BroJon and MoonMovie websites.
Then, go pursue the presentations available through the various links at physicist Phil Plait's "Bad Astronomy" website, which debunk all of the conspiracy buffs' claims.
You'll need to bring some basic knowledge of math and physics with you. If you don't have that, get some right away—your life will be improved by it. (For instance, you won't waste any more time being fooled by such nonsense as you have linked to here.)"

Tsk, tsk, tsk. "Play nice." ;-)


Silverhill
Posted 17 March 2008 at 10:33 pm

;-)
When it's a matter of differences of political opinion (e.g. "America sucks!" vs. "America rocks!"), I try not to choose sides; there is too much that is merely open to interpretation.
When it's demonstrably a matter of error of fact (e.g. the notion that the continents have "broken apart and ... uniformly spread around the earth to balance the spinning planet in its orbit"; or that a volcanic eruption [no matter how large] could have induced Earth's axial tilt; or interpretations [from ignorance] of the Moon data as a hoax), I can speak more definitively. If someone tries to present such bafflegab as serious stuff, I will indeed wonder if s/he doesn't need at least a metaphoric foil helmet. Or a course in physics. :-D


sid
Posted 18 March 2008 at 08:58 pm

Silverhill said: ";-)
When it's a matter of differences of political opinion (e.g. "America sucks!" vs. "America rocks!"), I try not to choose sides; there is too much that is merely open to interpretation.
When it's demonstrably a matter of error of fact (e.g. the notion that the continents have "broken apart and … uniformly spread around the earth to balance the spinning planet in its orbit"; or that a volcanic eruption [no matter how large] could have induced Earth's axial tilt; or interpretations [from ignorance] of the Moon data as a hoax), I can speak more definitively. If someone tries to present such bafflegab as serious stuff, I will indeed wonder if s/he doesn't need at least a metaphoric foil helmet. Or a course in physics. :-D"

So we've established it is OK to be insulting/dismissive/condescending/whatever, provided the circumstances are acceptable to the one offering the barb. I can live with that.


Silverhill
Posted 18 March 2008 at 11:59 pm

That's not what I said (or implied). Heaping contumely upon someone for expressing poorly supported political opinions is one thing; dismissing someone's insupportable nonsense is another. The political situation is subject to debate, due in part to its complexity; the physics of, say, angular momentum is not.


sid
Posted 19 March 2008 at 08:08 am

Silverhill said: "That's not what I said (or implied). Heaping contumely upon someone for expressing poorly supported political opinions is one thing; dismissing someone's insupportable nonsense is another. The political situation is subject to debate, due in part to its complexity; the physics of, say, angular momentum is not."

I guess it's a matter of opinion. One might argue that the truly "pure" would address such "nonsense" in a way that cannot be construed as insulting to the purveyor of said "nonsense." In other words, had you simply offered Jonas some direction as to where he could find opposing viewpoints to his, and stated your support of those views, along with reasons why you support those views, I likely would not have pointed out the apparent hypocrisy of your comments.

I understand you never claimed to be "pure," of course, but by your admonition of my tactics with Inti, but use of similar tactics with Jonas, one could certainly infer that it is your contention that the use of these tactics is acceptable, given the right set of circumstances. If that is the case, then what this boils down to is a disagreement as to when a particular threshold has been met. In my case, I believe that very poorly supported opinions meet that threshold. And, if you have followed previous threads involving me and Inti, you would know that Inti has not just offered very poorly supported opinions, but has been flat-out wrong over certain historical facts, such as with comments he made regarding Iran.

In contrast, you seem to feel the the tactics under discussion may be employed when the threshold met is based on certain scientific principles. Fair enough. I'm not a scientist, nor do I profess to have a wealth of knowledge regarding scientific theory, so I don't get involved in those types of disputes. I leave that to folks like you.

I do get involved in the world of political theory, however, and am fairly adept in that realm. I also enjoy a good discussion/argument. To paraphrase Nick Naylor, Michael Jordan shoots baskets, Charles Manson kills people, I debate/argue over certain political issues.

All that said, nice use of "contumely." Had to turn to American Heritage for that one. I'm not so sure I'm truly arrogant, though. Persistent, and perhaps to a fault, but not necessarily arrogant. I appreciate that I may come across as arrogant, but in most cases, when what are being discussed are opinions, I try to make sure it is understood I am merely offering mine. If someone can prove me to be irrefutably wrong, I will certainly own up to it. But as you know, that's pretty hard to do when discussing opinions.


Silverhill
Posted 19 March 2008 at 03:48 pm

Admonishment noted and accepted. It does seem to be a matter of thresholds....

sid said: "I guess it's a matter of opinion. ... If someone can prove me to be irrefutably wrong, I will certainly own up to it. But as you know, that's pretty hard to do when discussing opinions."
This reminds me of a humorous placard I've seen: "It's my opinion, and it's very true." :-D


Silverhill
Posted 20 March 2008 at 10:08 pm

(amending---)
Jonas: you have been grievously misinformed---by the BroJon and Moon Movie websites, and other sources---about various basic notions in the physical sciences, as well as certain incidents in history. Your "Friendly Neighborhood High School/College", as well as many reputable online sources, can help. Good luck!


Yardvark
Posted 21 March 2008 at 07:08 am

wargammer said: "excuse me, but the claim the the Moon orbits a planet with intelligent life is not backed up by some of the other entries here….."

Yeah, I know ... the "pie" people, e.g. I wasn't here at the very beginning, but was that ever funny?


canaman184
Posted 11 September 2008 at 02:24 pm

i THOUGHT the earth's axis felt relatively stable these past few billion years... thanks moon!


Mirage_GSM
Posted 08 April 2009 at 02:29 am

Jonas said: " http://www.brojon.org/frontpage/WHAT_REALLY_KILLED_THE_DINOSAURS.html "

Silverhill said: "...When it's demonstrably a matter of error of fact (e.g. the notion that the continents have "broken apart and … uniformly spread around the earth to balance the spinning planet in its orbit"; or that a volcanic eruption [no matter how large] could have induced Earth's axial tilt..."

Actually that site doesn't claim that earth's axial tilt was caused by volcanic eruption. Obviously, you didn't read the whole article. It get's even better later on.
In fact I really enjoyed that article. It's one of the best pieces of bad science I've ever encountered, and I'd love to read a detailed refutal of its claims. I can't decide whether the author truly believes it or whether it is an elaborate prank. Regardless, I recommend reading it as an exercise in critical thinking ;-)


Amercitizen
Posted 01 May 2009 at 07:51 am

GeorgeAR said: "I've read life on earth actually came from the moon. As Jason describes, the earth and moon threw rocks at each other for awhile. Small insects, evolved (or created by God. Your choice) on the moon, were thrust into the Earth environment. Thus the beginning of life here. All started by Luna ticks."

Your correct, the moon did come from the earth, evidence shows that a houge asteroid hit earth about some several million years ago and a huge chunk of earth flew off and over time started to form and collect until they created the moon.


Amercitizen
Posted 01 May 2009 at 07:53 am

Who'll agree that eventually the earth will die out.
Will we be able to find a new home on another planet?
Or will we die with the earth?

Enter reply here.


angryratman
Posted 10 December 2009 at 06:28 am

We will die long before the Earth.


monstermac77
Posted 19 August 2010 at 04:57 pm

Enter your comment here.


monstermac77
Posted 19 August 2010 at 04:58 pm

What "erosion" on the moon do you speak of?


GreenGestalt
Posted 01 December 2011 at 11:31 pm

Call bull...

The same "Rare Earth" guys used all their "Science" and "Logic" to say that this solar system was the ONLY one in the galaxy, that NO other star had planets around it. Or, even if they did, they'd be so rare any life would be in another galaxy. They just discounted what they said earlier, counting the goldfish attention span of the net to avoid embarrassment/credibility damage and kept beating their chests when the extrasolar planets were discovered. Oh, they were too large, many were in bizzare orbits that'd endanger any earth like planet...etc. Of course, as the extrasolar planet launched a craze in Astronomy, more planets are being discovered including some near earth like ones and soon telescopes will be launched that can pick up earths around other stars.


Joshua Eden
Posted 23 September 2014 at 07:57 am

Not all scientists are as pessimistic as you are. A book on extraterrestrial life written in 1980 says that, while the moon may have played a role in the development of life here, its absence elsewhere wouldn’t be all that detrimental to its formation. Wikipedia, likewise, says that other moon formation processes are possible and that, furthermore, the idea that life could develop without one has not been disproven.


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