I Like Big Moons and I Cannot Lie

Nothing like starting a post by referencing an ancient hip hop song.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13609153

So what exactly does this mean?  Anything at all?  I tend to think it does, but I’m just parroting what people much smarter than me have said.  All three of them.

It’s often claimed that a large moon is somehow vital to life.  Why would that be?  Because it introduces change.  A paradoxically regular change.  A moon with such mass in comparison to its parent body is going to cause some interesting effects.  For one, the tide.  And periods, but that’s neither here nor there.

So what do tides do?  Wonderful things, that’s what.  Don’t think of tides as affecting only massive bodies of water.  They touch every body of liquid, water or otherwise, on the surface of the planet.  Every day, as the planet rotates, different parts of the globe are exposed to the gravity of our moon.  The liquid rises, spreads out to fill it’s “container,” be that the shoreline of the Pacific or the little mud flat on your local creek, inundating that space with various bits of sediment its picked up from elsewhere.  Usually that elsewhere is pretty close, in which case it simply fortifies the local soil with additional minerals, but occasionally the sediment comes from much farther away and thus propagates the spread of life.  Good on you, water.

There are other things the moon does for us.  It reflects massive amounts of solar light down onto the surface, meaning that even the night is generally not entirely dark.  Nocturnal animals love it.  It stabilizes our pole so we have regularly maintained seasons, adjusted over long periods by climactic shifts, allowing indigenous life forms time to adjust to the changes.  It gives any intelligent life a nice target for beginning a space age.

After all, it’s pretty as hell, isn’t it?

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