Saturday, January 3, 2009

We Made the Moon Made Us?

This post comes from The Science Channel. The title of the program is, “The Day the Moon Was Gone.”
It seems to track logically with the previous post on Seth’s account of how agriculture began. Of course, it’s pure speculation—but it makes sense to me. See if you agree?

The moon is extremely large in relation to the size of the earth when compared to other planets’ moons in our solar system. One astronomer equated the earth/moon relationship with a double-planet system. In effect, our moon is our planet’s rudder. It steadies its planet in a way the other moons in the solar system don’t stabilize theirs.
Without the moon, the axis of the earth would swing erratically. Sometimes it would tilt toward the sun. When Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus or Neptune were on the same side of the sun as the Earth is, the North Pole would tilt toward one of them instead wreaking havoc with our seasons. Scientists believe the planet would swing radically from ice age to excessive heat. Sometimes the poles would be frigid, sometimes the equator would. Sometimes the North Pole would be tropical. If life evolved on the planet at all, it would remain primitive because complex life forms would not reproduce quickly enough to adapt to the swings in climate.

And, of course, the moon wasn’t always here.
Four and one half billion years ago or so, during the molten phase of the Earth, a large body—probably another planet in the making—crashed into our planet at 25,000 miles per hour, throwing more than 70% of the forming Earth into the sky at such a velocity that its gravity couldn’t drag all the scattered debris back. For a short time, the earth had rings similar to Saturn’s which, very quickly [within one year], coalesced into our moon.

The Impactor was an iron-cored planet about the size of Mars.
At the time of the collision, Earth’s core was much smaller than it is now. The Impactor’s core, being heavier than the other debris, fell back to the molten earth and sank to the core increasing the iron content of our planet by one half. This made the earth denser, our gravity more powerful and slowed the cooling of the planet by a factor of 1½ causing fissures and heat vents. This event probably caused the later split of Gaia and began the dance of plate tectonics on the surface.

Most critically, the collision knocked the earth onto its 23 degree tilt. When, a year later, the moon formed it was about 14,000 miles from earth—much closer to the planet than the 234,000 mile distance we see today.
Though there was no water, let alone the primal ocean, the moon, being so large and so close, churned up the molten rock of the primeval planet. It mixed the minerals thoroughly. And it acted as an anchor—slowing the orbit of the earth.

Scientists speculate about what the earth would be today if none of what I’ve outlined above had happened.
What would our planet be like if there had never been a moon? Well, to begin with, it wouldn’t be our planet. We wouldn’t be here. No mammals would. In fact, probably no amphibians or reptiles would either.

Today’s Earth would have a 12 hour day—6 hours of daylight and 6 hours of night.

Icy comets and asteroids would still have pummeled the planet and water would have condensed out of the earth.
With the smaller, cooler original iron core, there would probably be no plate tectonics—so no mountains and no large ocean basins would exist. Almost the entire planet would be covered in water. Governed only by the sun, the tides of the shallow seas would be just 1/3 the size of our current tides. The tidal basins would be extremely narrow. Since much of the evolution of life occurred in those basins, life might not have moved onto dry land at all. Even if some small life forms did make it onto land, there wouldn’t be much land for them to occupy. The continent of Gaia would be considerably smaller than our Gaia was and it would have remained stable. The Earth would have one small continent lying in a vast shallow sea.

The fast rotation would cause great winds and large storms that would last longer than our current ones do.
The faster rotation of the molten core would generate a much stronger magnetic field which would deflect the sun’s rays around the planet.
Of course, the sun has a great deal to do with the evolution of life on earth. Assuming life had arisen at all, it would likely have come about more slowly with fewer mutations resulting from the little radiation of the sun that would penetrate the field. Today’s life, if any, would, almost certainly, be primitive and ocean-bound.

The nights would be black except for the distant stars. The plankton and microscopic sea life which have evolved to follow the moon’s orbit wouldn’t have developed and the larger life-forms that currently feed on those organisms wouldn’t have evolved as they have done.

The climate on what little land there was would swing fiercely as the planet’s axis fluctuated violently. Ice ages would come and go quickly alternating with hot climates and droughts. Some scientists believe that the Earth might mirror Mars. After all, Mars has no large moon, its axis swings violently, there is evidence that, at one time, it had a great deal more water than it does today and microscopic organisms almost certainly existed there at one time.
The only differences between the two planets would have been the fact that the earth might have stronger gravity and a warmer average climate. Earth might have maintained it's water where Mars did not. Bacteria, plants and primitive marine animals might have had a chance on Earth—not much else would have.

Of course, all this is moot. We do have a moon, after all. But how did it come about?
Here is where my speculation begins:
Suppose some souls that are ready to inhabit complex bodies are hunting for a planet to occupy. They find an interesting planet but it’s not likely to settle down to such a state that it can support complex organisms. Conditions just aren’t right. While it is the proper distance from its sun, its axis is swinging wildly, its rotation is too fast causing violent storms to sweep across it. And the sun’s radiation can’t reach the surface in strong enough doses that would encourage mutations and evolution.

So, the souls, perhaps including the oversouls that compile all the cats, all the horses, all the fish, all the reptiles, all the apes, all the marsupials, all the bovines, all the dogs, all the amphibians, as well as the human and whale souls get together and conspire to shove a chunk of rock out of its own orbit to try to create a stabilizing influence on the chosen planet.

After all, if the humans’ souls could cross pollinate four kinds of wheat, couldn’t all the souls that had the Earth in their sights have made the planet habitable in the first place?
And we gave ourselves these gifts:

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