It’s Habitable, But Just Barely

The Earth is.

Astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announced their research today at the Winter meeting of the American Astronomical Society. According to the team, plate tectonics only really get going when a planet gathers enough mass. And the Earth has just barely enough mass to enjoy plate tectonics.“Plate tectonics are essential to life as we know it,” said Diana Valencia of Harvard University. “Our calculations show that bigger is better when it comes to the habitability of rocky planets.”

When a planet reaches a large enough size, huge chunks of the planet’s surface can float atop an ocean of boiling magma. These plates spread apart and crash into one another, lifting up gigantic mountain ranges like the Himalayas.

And without plate tectonics, we wouldn’t be here.

What this does, you see, is reduce the odds of finding life anywhere else. And how the heck were we lucky enough to have all those coincidences (like the speed of light and the fine structure constant and the relative strength of the fundamental forces) be just so, so that we could be here?

It’s a puzzlement.

Unless you just happen to be religious or something.

More interesting stuff from Austin at Astronomy Cast.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Astronomy, Catholism, Space

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