Our “Goldilocks Planet”
Is there life out there? Carl Sagan famously estimated in 1974 that the Milky Way may host as many as 1 million civilizations.
Scientists have wised up a lot since then. They’re realizing that the factors required for a civilization to exist are almost impossibly complex—and must be exceedingly rare, even in a universe as incomprehensibly vast as ours.
Consider just a few features that make our home in the cosmos “just right” for us to live and thrive here.
“JUST RIGHT” EARTH
- It is the perfect distance from both sun and moon to have a stable, predictable orbit. Twenty-four-hour days ensure Earth’s entire surface is properly warmed and cooled every day.
- It is the perfect size and mass. If it were less dense, an atmosphere would not form and remain; if it were more dense, its atmosphere would be uninhabitable. As it is, our atmosphere allows just the right amount of radiation to keep us warm but not kill us.
- Earth’s metal core produces a magnetic field that protects the surface from radiation from space. Radioactive heat from the core, mantle and crust creates plate tectonics, necessary for life for several reasons.
- Humans need 27 elements, including carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, iron and copper, to live. Earth has just the right mix of them.
- Earth has just the right amount of water in the proper ratios of liquid, solid and gas. A little more, and the continents would be drowned. A little less, and the planet would probably be too hot to host life.
“JUST RIGHT” MOON
- Our moon is huge: Its mass ratio compared to Earth is 50 times greater than that of any other known moon-planet combination. Yet it is the perfect size to stabilize the tilt of Earth’s rotational axis. Without our moon, the tilt of our planet would vary from zero to 85 degrees, producing catastrophic climate changes.
- Its gravity creates tidal movement. Thus, ocean waters do not stagnate— they clean the waters on the coasts from toxins and enrich them with nutrients. Yet these massive ocean movements never spill over across the continents. The ocean currents also regulate climate by circulating enormous amounts of heat.
“JUST RIGHT” SOLAR SYSTEM
- Giant planets act as “comet and asteroid catchers.” Their gravity cleans up our solar system of space junk that might otherwise collide with Earth.
Cosmic collisions can cause mass extinctions.
- Our solar system is unusually rich in metal content, necessary for advanced life.
Our Awesome Universe Potential
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