Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Mysterious Moon is Vital to Earth (1) by Louis Evan Palmer

Moonlight was something to be avoided in medieval times as it might induce madness. It was also to avoided during nocturnal wartime operations when darkness was needed.

Ancient cultures were very aware of the Moon as it was used to measure the months and held to affect women's menstrual cycles. In today's modern societies, it's much less of a cultural factor. Yet, the pure raw physical impacts of the Moon are staggering - to the extent that life as we know it might not exist without it.

The Moon strongly affects the oceans and seas. Estimates run from 1/3 to 1/2 of the height of the tides are a result of the Moon's gravitational pull (the rest is from the Sun). This also affects the width of the inter-tidal areas around the world. This is the boundary formed by the low and high tides and is typically an area of great diversity of life.

Earth without the Moon would rotate much faster. The Moon slows the Earth down. If the Moon was gone, the days on Earth would be around 8 hours in length and we would have 1095 of them in a year. This would have an enormous impact on life on Earth.

In addition, a faster rotation would affect the wind. We would have very little north-south air movement. Most winds would flow west to east and would be very persistent and in the range of 200 miles per hour. Continuous hurricanes and cyclones would rage throughout the tropics possibly like the Red Eye of Jupiter which is, in fact, a centuries-old hurricane.

The impact of its physical effects on humans and other of Earth's creatures is hard to predict but would be significant. After all, we're mostly water.

It has even been postulated that the Moon contributed to heating in the Earth's crust and mantle and helped trigger convection and magma flows which led to plate tectonics.

The Moon also stabilizes the Earth's wobble. Without that stabilization, Earth's tilt would move around more and this would have a tremendous impact on the seasons and weather.

We should be thankful for the Moon because without we might not be here. Who knew?

The Mysterious Moon is Vital to Earth, Louis Evan Palmer, The Way It Can Be, http://twicb.blogspot.com
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Copyright 2008 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications.


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1 comment:

Joel Craig Raupe said...

Yes, the moon is, as it turns out,

The not-quite-double, orbits the Sun shepherded through it's Sine wave orbit and is massive enough to have with a force we can see in it the Tide.

Both Earth and Moon orbit around a center of mass one-third the way to Earth's core, a barycenter two thirds an earth radii from the center of Earth's mass.

Considering what we know of the dynamics of Earth's interior, it would be difficult to lay credit on the Moon for a tidal effect on the molten iron lumpy interior, responsible therefore for our unusually active magnetic field.

Plate tectonics, and dynamic volcanology - both perhaps resulting from a planet still finding equillibrium from the grazing impact still seen, perhaps, in the Pacific basin and, on the Moon, Aiken basin.

With rugged ways, perhaps, all will be revealed. We'll wonder at another impossiblily as improbable as its 400 to 1 line of signt distance, covering the disk of the Sun

I'm ready. Let's go...

Joel Raupe
joelraupe@lunarpioneer.com