The moon and the evolution of life on earth


By Mohammed Nawazish
Mar 13, 2005, 11:19

The moon is our closest cosmic neighbour but how much do we know about it? What would happen if the moon did not exist? Such a situation was neither improbable nor impossible. so say the scientists, because the moon was created out of a colossal accident in space billions of years ago, a collision of unimaginable magnitude between the newly created earth and a Mars-size orbiting mass that blasted off a massive volume of rocks and dust into space that formed into a giant cluster of orbiting debris to finally transform into what our dear moon is. The creation of the moon had a cataclysmal effect on the evolution of life on earth. This has been elaborately described by Professor Neil F. Comins of the department of Astronomy and Physics at the University of Maine in his research findings "What if the moon didn't exist?'—a 1993 Harper Collins Publication. This is an awe-inspiring work that reveals weird realities about our known earth and the creation. I find it interesting to recount a few of his observations.

Assuming our earth never had any moon, scientists would first train their eyes on the geo-physical aspects of earth in the new context. It is the tides pattern that would be most significant. There would be no gravitational pull by the moon and whatever tides the earth had would depend only on the pull by the sun. The tides would necessarily be very gentle and restricted within the same range. The tide behaviour would have other far-reaching effects. Powerful tides in our world hit the ocean floor and shorelines in great force and tend to apply a sort of brake on the speed of earths rotation. During a span of 4.5 billion years the strong gravitational pull of the moon and its effect on tides had been able to lengthen our earthly days from 6 hours at the beginning to 24 hours by slowing down the speed of rotation. A moonless earth, the Professor calculates, would have 8-hour day and a year comprising 1,095 eight-hour days. Its rotation speed would be three times higher than at of our good earth.

Next comes the wind pattern. Winds are generated by the planet's rotation and the heating and cooling of its air. The rotation drags air along the planet's surface. The faster rotation of the moonless earth would drag air along its equatorial surface much more forcefully than on our earth. There would be much less wind movement to north and south leading to an exceptional global climatic pattern. The fast rotation would cause wind whipping at tremendous speed over the torrid zone, regularly topping 200 mph, while violent hurricanes would continuously hit the surface. A similar situation exists on the Jupiter and the Saturn each having 10-hour days where storms with wind speed around 300 mph rage the surface for years and even for centuries.