Tag Archives | Earth

Much of Earth’s Water Is Older Than the Sun

Planets form in the presence of abundant interstellar water inherited as ices from the parent molecular cloud. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC-Caltech)/ESO/J. Emerson/VISTA/Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit

Planets form in the presence of abundant interstellar water inherited as ices from the parent molecular cloud.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC-Caltech)/ESO/J. Emerson/VISTA/Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit.

via Live Science:

Much of the water on Earth and elsewhere in the solar system likely predates the birth of the sun, a new study reports.

The finding suggests that water is commonly incorporated into newly forming planets throughout the Milky Way galaxy and beyond, researchers said — good news for anyone hoping that Earth isn’t the only world to host life.

“The implications of our study are that interstellar water-ice remarkably survived the incredibly violent process of stellar birth to then be incorporated into planetary bodies,” study lead author Ilse Cleeves, an astronomy Ph.D. student at the University of Michigan, told Space.com via email. [7 Theories on the Origin of Life]

“If our sun’s formation was typical, interstellar ices, including water, likely survive and are a common ingredient during the formation of all extrasolar systems,” Cleeves added.

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The Anthropocene: It’s Not All About Us

260px-The_Earth_seen_from_Apollo_17Richard Heinberg writes at the Earth Island Journal:

Time to celebrate! Woo-hoo! It’s official: we humans have started a new geological epoch – the Anthropocene. Who’d have thought that just one species among millions might be capable of such an amazing accomplishment?

Let’s wait to stock up on party favors, though. After all, the Anthropocene could be rather bleak. The reason our epoch has acquired a new name is that future geologists will be able to spot a fundamental discontinuity in the rock strata that document our little slice of time in Earth’s multi-billion year pageant. This discontinuity will be traceable to the results of human presence. Think climate change, ocean acidification, and mass extinction.

Welcome to the Anthropocene: A world that may feature little in the way of multi-cellular ocean life other than jellyfish, and one whose continents might be dominated by a few generalist species able to quickly occupy new and temporary niches as habitats degrade (rats, crows, and cockroaches come to mind).

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El Niño Temporarily Slows The Earth’s Rotation

El Niño is coming for your gravity!

via How El Niño temporarily slows the Earth’s rotation | Ars Technica.

Above the surface, there are fluids that can move independently of the Earth, like the atmosphere. That motion can actually apply a torque that acts to speed up or slow down the Earth’s rotation. The El Niño Southern Oscillation is a major source of year-to-year variability in Earth’s average surface temperature and, it turns out, its rotational velocity. During La Niña conditions, the winds conspire to push warm surface water in the Eastern Pacific westward, bringing cooler water up to the surface. Conversely, during an El Niño, the warm surface water extends to the eastern side of the Pacific, keeping a lid on the cool water beneath. This difference has a large effect on atmospheric circulation patterns.

It has been known for a while that this manages to slightly alter the Earth’s rotation, but University of La Rochelle researcher Olivier de Viron and Jean Dickey of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory set out to study how two slightly different flavors of El Niño compare.

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1 In 4 Americans Does Not Believe That The Earth Revolves Around The Sun

planet earthVia NPR, a quarter of Americans know not to trust scientists and their Earth-sun rotation hoax:

A quarter of Americans surveyed could not correctly answer that the Earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around, according to a report out Friday from the National Science Foundation.

The survey of 2,200 people in the United States was conducted by the NSF in 2012 and released on Friday at an annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

In the same survey, just 39 percent answered correctly (true) that “The universe began with a huge explosion” and only 48 percent said “Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals.”

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Inside Reality With The Flat Earth Society

flat_earthIs the notion that our planet’s roundness a massive conspiracy perpetrated across centuries? The fascinating Flat Earth Society says yes, and attempts to address all of your doubts in their comprehensive FAQ guide:

The evidence for a flat earth is derived from many different facets of science and philosophy. The simplest is by relying on ones own senses to discern the true nature of the world around us. The world looks flat, the bottoms of clouds are flat, the movement of the sun; these are all examples of your senses telling you that we do not live on a spherical heliocentric world

Perhaps the best example of flat earth proof is the Bedford Level Experiment. In short, this was an experiment preformed many times on a six-mile stretch of water that proved the surface of the water to be flat. It did not conform to the curvature of the earth that round earth proponents teach.

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Humans Came From Another Planet, New Book Claims

202Did we all originate from Mars or somewhere else? Dr Ellis Silver argues that we may have.

via Alien Disclosure Group (ADG)

This year, other scientists have argued that life originated on Mars, due to a mineral found in Martian meteorites, thought to be crucial to the genesis of life. Another experiment showed that amino acids could have arrived in impacts with comets, which suggests life might be widespread in the solar system.

But a new book by American ecologist Dr Ellis Silver argues that humans may well not be from Earth – and may have arrived separately. Silver offers arguments, based on human physiology, that suggest we may not have evolved alongside other life on Earth, but arrived from elsewhere, brought here by aliens as recently as a few tens of thousands of years ago.

Silver, an environmentalist  who is currently working with the effort to clean plastic debris from the Pacific, says his book aims to provoke debate, and is based on scientific work on the difference between humans and other animals.

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Does Moore’s Law Imply That Life On Earth Arrived From Elsewhere?

origin of lifeThe MIT Technology Review writes that earthly lifeforms appear to have 10 billion years’ worth of complexity, yet our planet is only 4.5 billion years old. So do our origins lie elsewhere?

As life has evolved, its complexity has increased exponentially, just like Moore’s law. Now geneticists have extrapolated this trend backwards and found that by this measure, life is older than the Earth itself.

Alexei Sharov at the National Institute on Ageing in Baltimore and Richard Gordon at the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory in Florida argue that it’s possible to measure the complexity of life and the rate at which it has increased from prokaryotes to eukaryotes to more complex creatures such as worms, fish and finally mammals. That produces a clear exponential increase identical to that behind Moore’s Law although in this case the doubling time is 376 million years rather than two years.

That raises an interesting question.

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First ‘Alien Earth’ Likely To Be Spotted In 2013, Scientists Say

Finally, we’ll have a spot for humanity to open a second franchise? Live Science writes:

The first truly Earth-like alien planet is likely to be spotted next year, an epic discovery that would cause humanity to reassess its place in the universe. “I’m very positive that the first Earth twin will be discovered next year,” said Abel Mendez, who runs the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo.

Astronomers discovered the first exoplanet orbiting a sunlike star in 1995. Since they, they’ve spotted more than 800 worlds beyond our own solar system, and many more candidates await confirmation by follow-up observations. A number of exoplanets found over the last few years share one or two key traits with our own world — such as size or inferred surface temperature — but they have yet to bag a bona fide “alien Earth.”

NASA’s prolific Kepler Space Telescope, for example, has flagged more than 2,300 potential planets since its March 2009 launch.

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