flightless hag

A chronicle of the adventures of birdwoman: a lonely, talentless freak who wanders the internet in search of entertainment.

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I'm a 40-something married white female, survivor of weight watchers, avid reader of pulp. Dogs (not cats), extreme right (handed, not politics), ENTJ, alto, wanna-be knitter.

January 18, 2006

An Ode to Artemis

Last night, there was a program on the National Geographic channel about the Moon (Behind the Mysteries: Moon Mysteries… but I can’t find a link for it…). There’s so much about the Moon that I didn’t know.

I have read that the Moon was the product of a
collision between two heavenly bodies – the end results being Earth and Moon. After this “big bump” occurred, the moon was quite close to Earth. It started moving away from the Earth after the bump, and is still moving away from us at about an inch a year or so. Its proximity over the years has been absolutely pivotal in the development of life on Earth.

So, anyway, what are some of the cool things the moon has done for us?

Well, it seems that many… err… moons ago, there was a chance alignment of the gas giants (Jupiter Saturn Uranus and Neptune) which caused a change in the gravitational balance of the solar system. This sent hoardes of objects from the asteroid belt hurtling toward the inner solar system and the tiny planets orbiting there. (I can find no links for this online. Perhaps I misheard the program. However, heavy bombardment of the Moon is documented in several places such as
this). Earth, because of its own gravitation, was a target for many of these projectiles. The Moon was so close at that point that it acted as a shield and intercepted most of these objects. The scars from these impacts can be seen to this day on the lunar surface – 80% of which is scarred from this time period.

So the Moon gets pummeled, and the Earth keeps spinning, relatively unharmed. But even the spinning was aided by the presence of the Moon. The Moon acts as a stabilizer,
balancing our planet as it spins. Without it, our planet would most likely tilt to the point where the tropics could freeze and the poles could become deserts. The gyroscope action keeps us on a more-or-less stable spin axis.

Just as the earth has its gravitational pull, so does the Moon. Most of us know that this is manifested in the tides. (Some also speculate that volcanic and earthquake activity are also heavily influenced by lunar gravitation.) But, back when she was a much closer neighbor, the lunar gravity had a profound, dual impact on Earth.

First, the gravitational pull when the Moon was very close in proximity
caused major torque, which slowed down our spin frequency. It is calculated that Earth’s initial spin was as fast as 6 hours – as opposed to the 24 hours we have now. This slowing of spin allowed the Earth’s atmosphere to stabilize.

Also, the gravitational pull as the Moon started to move away caused huge tides (thousands of feet).
This violent soup mixed the right elements to form primordial ooze. Said ooze is thought to have been the origin of terrestrial life.

The Moon is still on the move. As it moves farther away from us, our atmosphere will become less stable. Our world will tilt. Tides will not be based on lunar pull, if they exist at all. Shortly after that, the sun will become so hot that Earth would be inhospitable for life, anyway.

For the duration of when life COULD exist on Earth, Artemis has provided the conditions that made life possible, even comfortable.

One could say it’s all coincidence. I suppose.




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