Today’s factismal: This is the start of Earth Science Week – have you hugged a geologist today?
This week is Earth Science Week, celebrating all of the fun that can be found in studying the Earth. (Teachers: The AGI has a special free packet of goodies just for you!) So the posts this week will all be about earth sciences. And to start with, we’ll explore deep time.
The Earth is 4.6 billion years old (give or take a couple of weeks). But most people, heck most geologists, don’t have a good feel for just how long that really is. So I’ve taken the history of the Earth and put it into a time scale that we can appreciate: that of a 45-year old person. Looked at that way, the following events would have marked your life:
- 45 years ago, you were born, just six months after your (much) bigger brother (the Sun). Your brother threw a lot of temper tantrums during the first few months, but seems to be getting more stable.
- 41 days later, you underwent surgery to remove your twin (the Moon).
- When you turned 3, you were allowed to take a bath (oceans formed)
- When you were 4 ¾, you were given your first furniture (rocks) to keep. Every couple of years or so, you re-arrange the furniture and re-upholster a lot of it as you go.
- When you were 6 ½ you got a fungal infection (life appeared on your surface).
- When you were 13 ½, you made a water garden (photosynthesis started). You and your twin are at your closest, but you can feel her growing more distant by the day. About twice a month you catch a chill and then get too hot.
- Not much happened for the next twenty years or so. But when you turned 35, you got crabs! (Arthropods appeared)
- Six months later, you were given a goldfish as a present (fish appeared). Two months after that, you got your first house plant (land plants appeared).
- When you were 36 ½, your plants got aphids (insects appeared).
- During the first part of your 37th year, you bought a lizard (reptiles appeared). During the last half of the year, you noticed that the lizard was getting rather large (dinosaurs appeared).
- Doing your spring cleaning two years ago (your 38th year), you found mouse droppings (mammals appeared). Later that summer, you noticed birds for the first time.
- Just over a year ago, your houseplant sprang into bloom (flowers appeared).
- About six months ago, your pet lizard died, but you can’t figure out why. Was it that accident you had? Or the cold you caught? Or was it changing his Lizard Chow? Or did it happen just because you re-arranged the furniture?
- Just over a week ago, a noisy family moved into the neighborhood (humans appeared). They finally quieted down an hour ago (civilization spread), but you aren’t sure whether or not you want them in your neighborhood especially as they seem intent on throwing crap into your backyard.
There – doesn’t that make you feel better about your mid-life crisis?
For more information on Earth Science Week, head over to the AGI website: