Stories tagged earth and sicence

Sep
28
2012

Darvaza: Darvaza
Darvaza: DarvazaCourtesy http://www.flickr.com/photos/rapidtravelchai/6086936280/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Rituals come in all forms and are celebrated by humans the world over. Some rituals are considered more well known than others.

In fact some are even brought into the main stream whereby they are given universal acknowledgement. The rituals that involve fire are the most prominent. The first famous fire ritual would probably have to be that which surrounds the Olympic flame. This is a flame which has been ceremonially lit every four years for the last 2000 years. This is one of the reasons it is referred to as the “Eternal Flame”. This is not a ritual that is confined to a few, but rather the whole planet as we have just witnessed from the recent London 2012 games as well as the great games that have gone before.

The “Mrapen” eternal flame located in Indonesia, is a very famous naturally occurring flame which emerged from the earth. The flame is mystical in its nature and occurred as gas was ignited by the fire hundreds of years ago. There is historical evidence that the flame has been burning at least since the 15th century. It’s a flame that never goes out despite the ravages of wind and rain. Considered sacred, it is used as part of an annual Buddhist ceremony called “Waisak”. It has even been used as a torch relay flame for some Indonesian sports events.

Another flame we can point to is the one located in Turkmenistan which is aptly nicknamed “The Gates of Hell”. This flame is more of a fiery inferno than a flame since it is 38 feet wide and has been on fire for over 38 years. It is known as the Darvaza Gas Crater. This is no natural occurrence but rather a result of a 1971 Russian industrial accident. After a drilling rig dug a little too far, it culminated in the release of poisonous gases. It was set alight in order to prevent an environmental leak – with the belief being that it would burn off soon. This created a continuous fire.

Many eternal flames will be pivotal to rituals and religions across the world. The Jewish faith uses the flame as part of a ritual which occurred at the Tabernacle and now the Jerusalem Temple. It was part of a commandment that a fire should burn continously at the Outer Altar. In modern times we can see reference to the eternal flame in the form of “sanctuary lamps”which are kept in the synagogues across the world. Flames will continue to be used as a symbol of respect and sacredness as it is the only element that can convey such feelings with force and illumination.

Which phenomena make your jaw drop? Has any fire burned longer than the Mrapen?

Apr
19
2011

By Brady Anderson

Growing up as a boy in a small farming community in rural Nebraska one of my favorite things to do was to stare at the night sky. It was always so beautiful. I would often fantasize of traveling from planet to planet to uphold intergalactic peace as a Jedi knight. Among these imaginations I always wondered where all these planets came from. I especially always wondered where the moon came from. Was it really made of cheese? Did a man truly live there? Could a cow jump over it? And was there actually anything worth seeing on its dark side? Well, now that I am older I don’t look at the sky as often as I used too—darn city lights!—but I do still wonder how exactly the moon come about. As it turns out many in the scientific community have also been concerned with this question and over the years there have been a few different theories as to the origin of the moon.

If found some theories about how the moon was formed on the Planetary Science Institute’s website. One theory is that the moon was a planet that was form around the same time as the earth was formed but was pulled into orbit around the earth due to its smaller density. This theory was largely discredited because the moon does not have any iron. The lack of iron is evidence that the moon was not formed from the same process as the earth was because if it was it would contain iron as the earth does. In response to this lack of iron another theory suggested that the moon formed in some other part of the solar system where there was little iron and was then somehow captured into earth’s orbit. This was disproved when lunar rocks were analyzed and showed the same isotope composition as the earth. The fact that they have the same isotope composition gives evidence that the earth and the moon were formed in the same area of the solar system. Another theory suggested that the moon the early earth was spinning so quickly that the moon flung off the earth. However, it has been proven that the angular momentum and energy need for such a thing to happen are impossible given what we know about the size and composition of the earth and moon.

The leading theory of the moon’s origin is an idea put forward by Dr. William K. Hartman and Dr. Donald R. Davis (http://www.psi.edu/projects/moon/moon.html). They proposed that the moon was formed by a body about the size of mars impacting the earth some around 60 million years after the earth’s initial accretion (Earth System History Third Edition, p. 248). Apparently this celestial body blasted into the earth with such speed and impact that some of the mantle of the body was separated to form what is now the moon. The Planetary Science Institute (http://www.psi.edu/projects/moon/moon.html) shows a computer simulation of what the impact probably looked like.

This impact theory explains several facts about the moon and so lend to its probability. First, the moon does not have any water whatsoever. The theory suggests this is so because water and other compounds were expelled from the moon during its formation. Second, the moon has a small metallic core. This is explained by the theory because when the mars sized body impacted the earth its core sank into the earth and became part of its core, but the body’s mantle exploded from it to form the small core of the moon. Third, the moon has a feldspar-rich outer layer. The theory accounts for this because of the heat involved in the impact formation of the moon. The early moon would have had a magma ocean early on much like the early earth (Earth System History Third Edition, p. 248-249).

So there you have it! The moon was most likely formed from an impact of a smaller celestial body on the earth. It was definitely not made of cheese.