Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Crash of the Titans
Who are we? Where did we come from? What is planet earth? Where did it come from? Hey, I’m sure that these questions ripple through your brain all the time… not. But what if all of our notions of our planet might be wrong? There lots of theories that the moon was created from a collision between earth and a planet “embryo” we call Theia some 4.5 billion years ago. But some pretty smart astrophysicists at UCLA are asking a bigger question with some pretty strong evidence to support their alternative view.
But was the earth as we know it today formed by the smashing together of a smaller version of earth today and Theia? The bulk of those two planets stayed together; a fragment broke off became the moon, they say.
“To figure this out, the team analyzed seven lunar rocks brought back to Earth by the Apollo missions, as well as six volcanic rocks from Earth's mantle.
“They were looking into which oxygen isotopes the rocks contained - which means they were counting the number of protons and neutrons in oxygen atoms. That's important, because the rocks on each planetary body in our Solar System has a unique 'fingerprint' ratio of oxygen isotopes, that can be used to work out where they came from.
“For instance, more than 99.9 percent of Earth's oxygen is O-16, which means each atom contains eight protons and eight neutrons. But there are also small amounts of O-17 and O-18 on Earth. And it's the ratio between O-16 and O-17 that scientists can use to work out where rocks - and other substances - have come from.
“If Theia simply side-swiped Earth and produced the Moon, as previously predicted, the Moon would be made up mainly of Theia, and Earth and Moon rocks would have different oxygen isotope ratios. But this wasn't the case.
“‘We don’t see any difference between Earth’s and the Moon’s oxygen isotopes; they’re indistinguishable,’ said lead researcher Edward Young.
“Instead, the findings back up a hypothesis proposed in 2012, which stated that Theia and Earth were actually involved in a head-on collision, rather than a side-swipe, and ended up fusing together as a result.
“‘Theia was thoroughly mixed into both the Earth and the moon, and evenly dispersed between them,’ said Young. ‘This explains why we don’t see a different signature of Theia in the Moon versus Earth.’” ScienceAlert.com, February 2nd. Certs was the handy combination of two breath mints in one. Did this crash of the titans really happen? And if it did, is that why we are here at all? Interesting, huh?
I’m Peter Dekom, and whatever we might think of ourselves, we are a very small part of a whole bigger plan, whatever may have happened way back then.