A landmark scientific study co-authored by a Canadian geologist has identified a sudden explosion of mineral diversity after the emergence of life on Earth, and advanced a "revolutionary" theory that rocks have been evolving -- much like plants and animals -- throughout the planet's history.Wouter Bleeker, an Ottawa-based researcher with the Geological Survey of Canada, is one of eight members of an international team whose theory of "mineral evolution" -- the idea that many of the Earth's rocks are dynamic "species" which emerged and transformed over time,largely in concert with living things -- is generating a major buzz in the global scientific community since its publication last week in a U.S.
journal."The key message," Mr. Bleeker told Canwest News Service, "is how closely intertwined the mineral world is with life and biology." He said human teeth -- with their key ingredient of apatite -- are vivid reminders that the "seemingly static, inorganic" physical Earth should be viewed more like a "living organism" underpinning the biosphere.
But the new
theory is also being hailed as a potential tool in the search for life
on other planets since it offers new ways of perceiving the
interactions between rocks and living things. Probes of distant planets
should be seeking evidence of biological processes that may have shaped
alien landscapes, thescientists contend.
The study, published in the
latest edition of American Mineralogist, chiefly proposes a new way of
understanding Earth's natural history and teaching the geosciences --
particularly how plant processes have altered the planet's atmosphere
and its rock chemistry, and how the rise of complex life forms with
shells and skeletal features "irreversibly transformed Earth's surface
The research team, led by
U.S. geologists Robert Hazen and Dominic Papineau of the Washington,
D.C.-based Carnegie Institution, recounted how just 12 minerals are
believed to have been present among the dust particles swirling through
space at the dawn of planetary formation some five billion years ago.
As the materials that
formed Earth "clumped" together and were subject to thermal pressures
and other forces,the nu......
A sliver of four-billion-year-old sea floor has offered a glimpse into the inner workings of an adolescent Earth. The baked and twisted rocks, now part of Greenland, show the earliest evidence of plate tectonics, colossal movements of the planet's outer shell. Until now, researchers were unable to say when the process, which explains how oceans and continents form, began. The unique find, described in the journal Science, shows the movements started soon after the planet formed. &quo...Climate change and phenomena
Anthony North: We are facing dangers, today, from global warming. This essay is not going to argue whether this is man-made or a natural cycle as such, but is to suggest another avenue of research – into the relationship between climate and paranormal experience.Many researchers, including myself, have suggested that an environment can have an effect upon the mind. But does the present climate change offer a possibility of testing the hypothesis in action?Gaia: The idea that the Earth is a form ...Study explains rainforest similarities
Celebrated in Buddhist temples and cultivated for its wood and cottony fibers, the kapok tree now is upsetting an idea that biologists have clung to for decades: the notion that African and South American rainforests are similar because the continents were connected 96 million years ago. Research by University of Michigan evolutionary ecologist Christopher Dick and colleagues shows that kapok---and perhaps other rainforest--trees colonized Africa after the continents split when the trees' se...Did comets cause killer cold spell ?
Tiny diamonds sprinkled across North America suggest a "swarm" of comets hit the Earth around 13,000 years ago, kicking up enough disruption to send the planet into a cold spell and drive mammoths and other creatures into extinction, scientists reported on Friday.They suggest an event that wouldtranscend anything Biblical -- a series of blinding explosions in the atmosphere equivalent to thousands of atomic bombs, the researchers said.The so-called nanodiamonds are made underhigh-temperature, hi...Ancient tsunami 'hit New York'
A huge wave crashed into the New York City region 2,300 years ago, dumping sediment and shells across Long Island and New Jersey and casting wood debris far up the Hudson River. The scenario, proposed by scientists, is undergoing further examination to verify radiocarbon dates and to rule out other causes of the upheaval. Sedimentary deposits from more than 20 cores in New York and New Jersey indicate that some sort of violent force swept the Northeast coastal region in 300BC. It may ...Prehistoric jungles laughed at global warming
Evidence has been found to suggest that giant creatures such as the massive one-tonne titanoboa snake would have thrived in hot jungles millions of years ago with temperatures significantlywarmer than those seen today."Fossil boffins say that dense triple-canopyrainforests, home among other things to gigantic one-tonne boa constrictors, flourished millions of years ago in temperatures 3-5°C warmer than those seen today - as hot...Massive ice chunks break up in Antarctica
An ice shelf in western Antarctica is breaking up with huge ice chunks crumbling away and an area over 1300 square miles in danger of breaking off completely in the next few weeks."Massive ice chunks are crumbling away from a shelf inthe western Antarctic Peninsula, researchers said Wednesday, warning that 1,300 square miles of ice - an area larger than Rhode Island - was in danger of breaking off in coming weeks. . "...Prepare for another ten scorching years
Temperature records will be repeatedly shattered over the next few years, say researchers behind the first rigorous look at how global climate will change during the next decade. The prediction comes from an innovative technique that combines the approaches used by weather forecasters, who typically look a few days ahead, and climate modellers, who produce projections that run up to the end of the century. The result is a model that can project as far as 2015, filling in a long-standing gap in c... Animal Language
One of the ways most animals communicate is with sound, they may neigh, bark,
purr or quack; we speak. These auditory messages convey
meaning for the species concerned. We understand words,
horses understand neighs, dogs understand barks and so on.
Quacks don?t correspond with words, neighs
mean little to cats, but what is universal is body language.
Animals can understand the body language of their species and of others.
They usually recognize a...Global warming could change Earths tilt
It is thought that global warming could cause the Earth"s axis to tilt significantly within the next hundred years, with the rebound from melting ice sheets and the rise in sea levels both contributing to changes in the planet"s tilt."Warming oceans could cause Earth"s axis to tilt in the comingcentury, a new study suggests. . The effect was previously thought to be negligible, but researchers now say the shift will be lar...