Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Moon and its Influences

View of the Moon just before Sunrise.
The Moon has been a revered object throughout human history from myths and rituals to romances and stories. While the impact the Sun has had on the evolution of life is knowledgeable to most, the role the Moon has played is less so. The tides of the ocean are created due to a combination of the Sun and the Moon, but it is the Moon that impacts tide activity the most. Without a moon, the tides would be smaller, minerals would wash into the ocean slower, and life would take longer to establish. In this moonless condition, the Earth would be spinning much faster causing high, continuous wind. This wind would lead to enormous, constant waves. In these conditions, the transition of life from ocean to land would be extremely difficult to achieve. Life has evolved in extreme settings before, and might then, but it would have more challenges: perpetual winds and regular debris. A number of animals relay on the moon not only for hunting, but also reproduction.

The rapid rotation would also mean a different circadian rhythm as the 24-hour day becomes close to a 6-hour day. A rapidly rotating terrestrial planet is also highly unstable without an anchor such as our Moon. The significant wobbling would cause enormous stress on the surface of Earth. This would result in large magnitude earthquakes, high volcanic activity, catastrophic tsunamis, an unstable atmosphere, and drastic magnetic field changes. The evolution of both Earth and life on it are not just the result of the perfect distance from the Sun, but also the stabilization that the Moon has given our planet.

This week I've decided to just continue with an astronomy theme.