Tag Archives | Earth

Supercontinents of Planet Earth: 650 Million Years in Under 2 Minutes (Video)

SupercontinentAlasdair Wilkins on io9.com has a great post about the past and future of our planet’s continents. Definitely worth a read:

Earth’s continents are constantly changing, moving and rearranging themselves over millions of years — affecting Earth’s climate and biology. Every few hundred million years, the continents combine to create massive, world-spanning supercontinents.

Here’s the past and future of Earth’s supercontinets.

Continue Reading

The Relationship Between Oil, Earth and Humanity

LittleEarthOil has been the topic of discussion in American news since the 1920s, but have circumstances really changed? With the Deep Horizon spill in 2010 causing unprecedented pollution, the leak in the Alaskan pipeline and the new energy deal between China and Scotland, we are witnessing an increasing struggle for fossil fuel resources and a constant search for new energy sources. An excerpt from disinformation‘s The Little Earth Book by James Bruges gives us a retrospective look of how the oil situation of today was seen 6 years ago.

The Future of Oil: Who’s Fooling Whom? – and Why?

Draw a line five miles long to represent the millions of years during which solar energy has been captured and laid down in the earth’s crust in the form of coal, gas and oil. Then put a blip in it. That blip represents the time we have taken to extract and use this embodied energy.Read the rest

Continue Reading

Earth’s Precession Changes Zodiac Signs: Are You Now An Ophiuchus?

OphiuchusThe interwebs have been going crazy with a supposed change to the zodiac that has added a new sign called Ophiuchus and changed all the other signs’ dates.

It’s world-changing (well if you believe in this sort of thing : ) If you’d like to read what’s really going on here behind the hubbub and learn a bit about astronomy not astrology, Charlie Jane Anders over at io9.com has an excellent post:

What on Earth is going on? And why does everybody suddenly have to work with a new version of the completely meaningless zodiac?

It seems to have started with this article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune last weekend, in which one astronomer made some statements about the zodiac. Parke Kunkle is on the board of directors of the Minnesota Planetarium Society and teaches astronomy at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Kunkle told the Star-Tribune the Earth’s relation to the sun had changed since the Babylonians first created the zodiac.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

22% of Plants Facing Extinction

Author: Ryan Kitko (CC)

Author: Ryan Kitko (CC)

The Earth could lose more than one fifth of all known plants — forever! Story from the Guardian:

One in five of the world’s plant species – the basis of all life on earth – are at risk of extinction, according to a landmark study published today.

At first glance, the 20% figure looks far better than the previous official estimate of almost three-quarters, but the announcement is being greeted with deep concern.

The previous estimate that 70% of plants were either critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable was based on what scientists universally acknowledged were studies heavily biased towards species already thought to be under threat.

Today the first ever comprehensive assessment of plants, from giant tropical rainforests to the rarest of delicate orchids, concludes the real figure is at least 22%. It could well be higher because hundreds of species being discovered by scientists each year are likely to be in the “at risk” category.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Humanity and Beyond

Stacie Adams writes on Smirking Chimp:
Rocketship X-M

A week or two ago the internets were ablaze with the news that not only did famed physicist Stephen Hawking appear to believe in the existence of life on other planets, but he was also of the mind that we should avoid them at all costs, because in his opinion they would be of the face sucking, giant lizard variety.

Many expressed dismay at his sentiment, but it’s really not that fantastic. Hawking’s theory is that if the universe is infinite, it would make sense mathematically for there to be other life forms in existence at various stages of development. His second point really isn’t that bold either. Why do we, in our limited knowledge, assume that advancement entails humanity?

Look at our species. As we advance, are we becoming more or less humane? And look at our history. We happen upon a new land, and what do we do with the native inhabitants?

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Chilean Quake Likely Shifted Earth’s Axis, NASA Scientist Says

Earth's MotionsAlex Morales writes on Bloomberg:

The earthquake that killed more than 700 people in Chile on Feb. 27 probably shifted the Earth’s axis and shortened the day, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientist said.

Earthquakes can involve shifting hundreds of kilometers of rock by several meters, changing the distribution of mass on the planet. This affects the Earth’s rotation, said Richard Gross, a geophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who uses a computer model to calculate the effects.

“The length of the day should have gotten shorter by 1.26 microseconds (millionths of a second),” Gross, said today in an e-mailed reply to questions. “The axis about which the Earth’s mass is balanced should have moved by 2.7 milliarcseconds (about 8 centimeters or 3 inches).”

The changes can be modeled, though they’re difficult to physically detect given their small size, Gross said. Some changes may be more obvious, and islands may have shifted, according to Andreas Rietbrock, a professor of Earth Sciences at the U.K.’s Liverpool University who has studied the area impacted, though not since the latest temblor.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Try to Find New Island on a Map: You Can’t, Even Though People Have Lived There for 43,500 Years…

Sounds to me like where Lost takes place. Fascinating story from Annalee Newitz on io9.com:

You can’t find New Island on most maps of the Indian Ocean because its location was a secret for most of the twentieth century. But now one man has chronicled the long, strange history of its ancient inhabitants.

The ruins you see here come from a group known locally as the “Old People,” who probably started living on the island 43,500 years ago. In the modern age, the island was discovered in the late eighteenth century by two convict ships that crashed there on the way to Australia. One of those ships was filled with hundreds of female convicts, who eventually founded their own civilization on the island, based on sexual equality and paganism. Today the island is a bustling place, full of trains and welcoming visitors.

Unfortunately, you can only visit via a website created from the imagination of Lee (Rusty) Mothes, a worldbuilder who loves to draw maps and island landscapes.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Scientists Plan Man-Made Earthquakes To Combat Global Warming

The_Earth_seen_from_Apollo_17The Telegraph reports on a geoengineering project by climate change scientists to block the sun by simulating volcanic eruptions:

A global plan to put man-made particles into the atmosphere to deflect the Sun’s heat would rapidly lower global temperatures until cuts in carbon dioxide emissions took effect, they argued.

They acknowledged concerns about geoengineering but said multi-national experiments should begin soon before it is too late to reverse climate change or in case a rogue state carried out separate measures.

The environmental scientists, David Keith of the University of Calgary in Canada, Edward Parson of the University of Michigan and Granger Morgan of Carnegie Mellon University, were writing an editorial in the journal, Nature.

They called for governments to establish a multimillion-pound fund for research into the simulated volcanoes and other solar-radiation management techniques for shielding the Earth against sunlight.

“The idea of deliberately manipulating Earth’s energy balance to offset human-driven climate change strikes many as dangerous hubris,” they wrote.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Hunt For Earth’s ‘Twin Planet’ Takes Leap Forward

240px-The_Earth_seen_from_Apollo_17The Telegraph reports that scientists are on the brink of discovering the first Earth-like planet outside the solar system:

Professor Michel Mayor, the scientist who led the team that identified the first extrasolar planet in 1995, believes a planet similar in size and composition to Earth will soon be found.

Prof Mayor, of Geneva University, said that the prospect of finding a planet habitable for humans had come a step closer through rapid technological advances allowing observation of planets outside the solar system.

Addressing a Royal Society conference to mark the 50th anniversary of the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) programme, he said: “The search for twins of Earth is motivated by the ultimate prospect of finding sites with favourable conditions for the development of life.
“We’ve entered a new phase in this search.”

More than 400 extroplanets have been discovered over the past 15 years, he added.

However, it is doubtful that any of these could be inhabited by humans because they are too large, Prof Mayor told the audience, which included representatives from Nasa, the European Space Agency and the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Are Earth’s Oceans Made Of Extraterrestrial Material?

From Science Daily:

Contrary to preconceived notions, the atmosphere and the oceans were perhaps not formed from vapors emitted during intense volcanism at the dawning of our planet. Francis Albarède of the Laboratoire des Sciences de la Terre (CNRS / ENS Lyon / Université Claude Bernard) suggests that water was not part of the Earth’s initial inventory but stems from the turbulence caused in the outer Solar System by giant planets. Ice-covered asteroids thus reached the Earth around one hundred million years after the birth of the planets.

The Earth’s water could therefore be extraterrestrial, have arrived late in its accretion history, and its presence could have facilitated plate tectonics even before life appeared. The conclusions of the study carried out by Albarède feature in an article published on the 29 October 2009 in the journal Nature.

Space agencies have got the message: wherever there is life there has to be water.

Read the rest

Continue Reading