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The Living Planet...

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The Living Planet... Empty The Living Planet...

Post by Vanilla2 February 27th 2013, 12:24 pm

Excerpt from watchtower.org Was Life Created...

Earth’s perfect “address”
When you write down your address,
what do you include? You might put in
your country, city, and street. By way of
comparison, let’s call the Milky Way galaxy
earth’s “country,” the solar system
—that is, the sun and its planets—earth’s
“city,” and earth’s orbit within the solar
system earth’s “street.” Thanks to advances
in astronomy and physics, scientists
have gained deep insights into the
merits of our special spot in the universe.
To begin with, our “city,” or solar system,
is located in the ideal region of the
Milky Way galaxy—not too close to the
center and not too far from it. This “habitable
zone,” as scientists call it, contains
just the right concentrations of the chemical
elements needed to support life. Farther
out, those elements are too scarce;
farther in, the neighborhood is too dangerous
because of the greater abundance
of potentially lethal radiation and other
factors. “We live in prime real estate,”
says Scientific American magazine.

The ideal “street”: No less “prime” is
earth’s “street,” or orbit within our solar
system “city.” About 93 million miles
from the sun, this orbit lies within a limited
zone that is habitable because life neither
freezes nor fries. Moreover, earth’s
path is almost circular, keeping us roughly
the same distance from the sun year round.
The sun, meanwhile, is the perfect
“powerhouse.” It is stable, it is the ideal
size, and it emits just the right amount
of energy. For good reason, it has been
called “a very special star.”

The perfect “neighbor”: If you had to
choose a “next-door neighbor” for the
earth, you could not improve on the
moon. Its diameter measures just over a
quarter of that of the earth. Thus, when
compared with other moons in our solar
system, our moon is unusually large in
relation to its host planet. Mere coincidence?
It seems unlikely.
For one thing, the moon is the principal
cause of ocean tides, which play a vital
role in earth’s ecology. The moon also
contributes to the planet’s stable spin
axis. Without its tailor-made moon, our
planet would wobble like a spinning top,
perhaps even tipping right over and turning
on its side, as it were! The resulting
climatic, tidal, and other changes would
be catastrophic.

Earth’s perfect tilt and spin: Earth’s
tilt of about 23.4 degrees causes the annual
cycle of seasons, moderates temperatures,
and allows for a wide range
of climate zones. “Our planet’s tilt axis
seems to be ‘just right,’” says the book
Rare Earth—Why Complex Life Is
Uncommon in the Universe.
Also “just right” is the
length of day and night, a
result of earth’s spin. If the
speed of rotation were substantially
slower, the days would be longer and the
side of the earth facing the sun
would bake while the other side
would freeze. Conversely, if the earth
were to spin much faster, the days would
be shorter, perhaps just a few hours long,
and earth’s rapid spin would cause relentless
gale-force winds and other harmful effects

Earth’s protective shields:
Space is a dangerous place where lethal
radiation is common and meteoroids
are an ever-present danger. Yet,
our blue planet seems to fly through
this galactic “shooting gallery” with relative
impunity. Why? Because earth is
protected by amazing armor—a powerful
magnetic field and a custom-made atmosphere.

Earth’s magnetic field: The center of
the earth is a spinning ball of molten iron,
which causes our planet to have a huge
and powerful magnetic field that stretches
far into space. This shield protects us
from the full intensity of cosmic radiation
and from potentially deadly forces emanating
from the sun. The latter include
the solar wind, which is a steady stream
of energetic particles; solar flares, which
in minutes release as much energy as billions
of hydrogen bombs; and explosions
in the outer region, or corona, of the
sun, which blast billions of tons of matter
into space. You can see visible reminders
of the protection you receive from
the earth’s magnetic field. Solar flares
and explosions in the sun’s corona trigger
intense auroras, colorful displays of
light visible in the upper atmosphere near
earth’s magnetic poles.

Earth’s atmosphere: This blanket of
gases not only keeps us breathing but
also provides additional protection. An
outer layer of the atmosphere, the stratosphere,
contains a form of oxygen called
ozone, which absorbs up to 99 percent
of incoming ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Thus, the ozone layer helps to protect
many forms of life—including humans
and the plankton we depend on to produce
much of our oxygen—from dangerous
radiation. The amount of stratospheric
ozone is not fixed. Rather, it changes,
growing as the intensity of UV radiation
rises. So the ozone layer is a dynamic, efficient
The atmosphere also protects us from
a daily barrage of debris from space—millions
of objects ranging in size from tiny
particles to boulders. By far the majority
of these burn up in the atmosphere, becoming
bright flashes of light called meteors.
However, earth’s shields do not block
radiation that is essential to life, such
as heat and visible light. The atmosphere
even helps to distribute the heat around
the globe, and at night the atmosphere
acts as a blanket, slowing the escape of heat.
Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field
truly are marvels of design that are still
not fully understood. The same could be
said of the cycles that sustain life on this planet.

Number of posts : 1209
Appreciation Points : 1613
Registration date : 2009-08-18

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