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Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Time & Space (1) - introduction

Our difficulty with Time & Space concepts becomes clear when we read that Antarctica was once tropical (ScienceAlert) and that Siberia was once subtropical (Guardian). It's hard to believe, isnt it? Yet, we have no problem in accepting that it's currently 20 degrees Celsius warmer in the North Pole and 20 degrees Celsius colder in Siberia, compared to "long-term" averages (eg, WCWP).

We also have no problem in accepting that Europe and USA are drifting apart by two cm per year due to seafloor spreading (source). Neither would we doubt that "the African and Arabian [tectonic] plates [are] drifting apart along two separate fault lines by one centimeter a year" (Spiegel). What's an annual 1 or 2 cm in a human life anyway? Yet, it's a lot in Earth's history.
 
The spatial dimensions of planet Earth may not be very impressive: a diameter of some 12,700+ km. Its time dimensions are impressive: Earth is some 4.5 billions years old, compared to 13.8 billion years for the Universe. At an annual rate of 0.28 cm, we would not even know if our planet Earth would "grow", like the Universe does. Also see my 9 March 2015 blog.

The tiny parrot fossil in Siberia was dated some 17 million years ago (Guardian). Science Alert: "The exceptionally warm period 55 to 48 million years ago was the warmest era in the Earth’s history during the past 70 million years." This timeframe is in between 2 of the 5 known Ice Ages: the Karoo Ice Age (360 to 260 million years ago) and the (current) Quaternary glaciation that started about 2.58 million years ago. Interestingly, the start of the Quaternary glaciation coincides with the earliest of humans which is estimated at some 2 million years ago.

There appears to be a relation between Ice Ages and the existence - and breakup - of supercontinents. Wiki: "Pangea was a supercontinent that [] assembled from earlier continental units approximately 300 million years ago, and it began to break apart about 175 million years ago. In contrast to the present Earth and its distribution of continental mass, much of Pangaea was in the southern hemisphere and surrounded by a superocean, Panthalassa. Pangaea was the last supercontinent to have existed and the first to be reconstructed by geologists."

Earth's plate tectonics do not only cause earthquakes (eg, Italy) and seafloor spreading, but are also one of the 8 known factors in climate change (eg, BGS, my 9 May 2015 blog). Latter now makes perfect sense given the above. Our climate also changes as a result of changing geographical positions on planet Earth.

Humans live in the Now and we don't really care what happened before us (part 1 and part 2 of History, Legends & Myths) and/or what happens after us (my blog Après nous le déluge). We also fear and hate Change (eg, part 1, part 2 and part 3 of the Promise and Fear of Change). 

I think, feel and believe that humans only believe in the Now as "seeing is believing". Often we doubt and/or deny our history (eg, climate change, creationism) and we fear our future. Sometimes it feels like a miracle that Faith, Hope & Love even exist.

Ilse DeLange - Miracle (2009) - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2