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A Speculative Genesis
100 trillion trillion BC- 3,000,000,001 BC:
REFERENCE

Our Universe is born; our solar system (and Earth One) forms; Earth is destroyed and replaced with Earth Two (the Moon also appears); Earth Two battered by asteroids, comets, and biblical scale tidal waves; Mars may harbor life; the first intelligent species in the Universe and our galaxy may arise now

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Approximately 100 trillion trillion+ BC- 13,563,000,000+ BC: The predecessor of our universe may offer up a bizarre reality at this time to any who could explore it

According to the ekpyrotic theory, our universe at this time may exist in one of several different states; it could be a great void of empty space, where nothing is happening, or has ever happened, and nothing exists (except possibly for black, empty space).

Or, our universe might be filled with matter and energy of many diverse kinds, somewhat reminiscent of what people in 2001 AD will be familiar with-- only not the same. There might be stars and planets. Or there may be some other, much more exotic arrangement of matter and energy. Galaxies might be fibrous, like enormous plants. Life might not exist at all, or it may exist and be silicon-based rather than carbon-based. Quite bizarre differences could exist between this version of our universe and the one which we will inhabit later. Even the physical laws wouldn't necessarily be the same.

Another possibility is that the universe was once as described above, but has grown extremely old now, with all its energy dissipating away, and its matter breaking down-- and eventually fated to become a totally empty, cold, and featureless black void once again.

The Big Bang and inflation model of universe creation is currently (early 2001 AD) the front runner for explaining how everything first came about-- but it's not perfect, and thus vulnerable to being replaced or supplemented with another, better theory. In the new ekpyrotic model theory of how the universe unfolded, for untold eons (maybe a hundred trillion trillion years) our universe existed as a sort of limbo where nothing ever changed or moved inside it, indistinguishable from perhaps an infinity of other limbo-like realities. A featureless three-dimensional cosmological membrane, etched into a five dimensional surface. At some point another, parallel universe coliided with ours, generating the energy necessary to cause the fabric of our universe to differentiate and coalesce into recognizible constituents, like matter and light. Tiny ripples from this collision reverberated throughout our universe, acting as a framework or skeleton upon which our newfound matter and energy could drape itself, in order to form larger structures. This action eventually led to the precipitation of stars and planets and galaxies from the new raw materials.

In this theory there may be lots of parallel universes floating about in the larger medium (hidden higher dimensions) from which ours sprang. And another collision could occur at any time, effectively destroying our present universe and maybe creating yet another in its place.

In string theory, the universe consists of eleven dimensions: three of space, one of time, and seven others. M theory is a variation on string theory, suggesting that surfaces, or membranes (branes for short) may serve as the basic building blocks of reality, rather than vibrating strings.

If our universe primarily depends upon a five dimensional brane, then the other six dimensions will be so tiny and rolled up as to be insignificant. Some possible branes in the 5-dimensional space could take the abstract form of parallel planes of infinite length, and offer characteristics very like those of our current universe.

If this is how existence is structured, then other universes/branes may be floating through the fifth dimension, but be undetectable since matter and light cannot move through the fifth dimension. But gravity can move through the fifth dimension, and more brane collisions are always possible.

In this scenario the fifth dimension is limited in size, and originally (prior to our universe's creation) bounded on at least two sides with three-dimensional branes. Lower dimensional branes can apparently be exchanged between the three dimensional branes, across the fifth dimension. This exchange is apparently something like swapping spit in a kiss, as at least one brane is attracted by this action, and begins slowly moving toward the other, squashing the fifth dimensional space separating the two. The moment the two boundary branes touch, the fifth dimension implodes and disappears.

But immediately after the collision the two branes bounce away from one another again, and the intervening fifth dimension is reborn. The rebound (NOT the collision) also causes the Big Bang to occur in our universe.

Another aspect of this scenario is that both the branes were absolutely flat, thereby collided along every spot of their planar area simultaneously, and therefore created the flat universe we live in today.

This uniform application of force also insured that the entire universe would be uniform in how it developed afterwards.

Slight variations in the timing of impact between different areas of the two branes would be caused by quantum effects, and create the temperature difference necessary to seed galaxy generation. One after effect of the collision would be expansion such as we detect in our universe today.

The forces which attract branes to one another would be so miniscule that it could literally take an eternity for a collision to occur between any two or more branes.

-- When Branes Collide by Ron Cowen From Science News, Vol. 160, No. 12, Sept. 22, 2001, p. 184; Science Service; sciserv.org

Note that a given brane in the ekpyrotic model theory could be just like our universe today, filled with highly developed matter and energy. Or, it could contain just empty space.

In this scenario our universe would have been pretty large already at the moment of creation, rather than expanding like an explosion from a point. But it would still have been expanding from the start, and so share much in common with older theories. It's just that no special model of universal super fast inflation would be necessary to explain how it got from a point to the size it is today.

Although huge periods of time could separate brane collision events, the cycle likely does and will repeat eventually. If our universe participated in another collision, everything in it would likely be destroyed, and a whole new and different universe be created.

Of course, one implication of that is that practically all the branes floating around the fifth dimension are likely filled with matter and energy just like ours-- at least after all this cosmic machinery has operated long enough-- and so the infinity of possible universes idea from various sci fi works finds yet another way to be true. Of course, any universe that gets to last long enough will also eventually use up all its energy, and see its matter break down, until it's become a featureless black void once again.

-- A cosmic new theory on universe's origins By Faye Flam, April 10, 2001, INQUIRER; phillynews.com; Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.

Signposts 100 trillion trillion BC- 3,000,000,001 BC Contents


Approximately 13,837,000,000+ BC- 13,563,000,000+ BC: A monstrous, slow motion collision between two walls in the fifth dimension may take place now

According to the ekpyrotic theory, sometime around now (or perhaps earlier), something conceptually like two great and enormous walls in the fifth dimension may smack into one another, in an almost perfectly flat (and agonizingly slow) collision. The walls bounce backwards once again (agonizingly slow once more), and bring about the act of creation in our universe.

If anything existed in our universe previous to the collision, it has all been utterly destroyed so that an all new matrix of reality can be formed-- ours.

The Big Bang and inflation model of universe creation is currently (early 2001 AD) the front runner for explaining how everything first came about-- but it's not perfect, and thus vulnerable to being replaced with another, better theory. In the new ekpyrotic model theory of how the universe unfolded, for untold eons (maybe a hundred trillion trillion years) our universe existed as a sort of limbo where nothing ever changed or moved inside it, indistinguishable from perhaps an infinity of other limbo-like realities. A featureless three-dimensional cosmological membrane, etched into a five dimensional surface. At some point another, parallel universe coliided with ours, generating the energy necessary to cause the fabric of our universe to differentiate and coalesce into recognizible constituents, like matter and light. Tiny ripples from this collision reverberated throughout our universe, acting as a framework or skeleton upon which our newfound matter and energy could drape itself, in order to form larger structures. This action eventually led to the precipitation of stars and planets and galaxies from the new raw materials.

In this theory there may be lots of parallel universes floating about in the larger medium (hidden higher dimensions) from which ours sprang. And another collision could occur at any time, effectively destroying our present universe and maybe creating yet another in its place.

In string theory, the universe consists of eleven dimensions: three of space, one of time, and seven others. M theory is a variation on string theory, suggesting that surfaces, or membranes (branes for short) may serve as the basic building blocks of reality, rather than vibrating strings.

If our universe primarily depends upon a five dimensional brane, then the other six dimensions will be so tiny and rolled up as to be insignificant. Some possible branes in the 5-dimensional space could take the abstract form of parallel planes of infinite length, and offer characteristics very like those of our current universe.

If this is how existence is structured, then other universes/branes may be floating through the fifth dimension, but be undetectable since matter and light cannot move through the fifth dimension. But gravity can move through the fifth dimension, and more brane collisions are always possible.

In this scenario the fifth dimension is limited in size, and originally (prior to our universe's creation) bounded on at least two sides with three-dimensional branes. Lower dimensional branes can apparently be exchanged between the three dimensional branes, across the fifth dimension. This exchange is apparently something like swapping spit in a kiss, as at least one brane is attracted by this action, and begins slowly moving toward the other, squashing the fifth dimensional space separating the two. The moment the two boundary branes touch, the fifth dimension implodes and disappears.

But immediately after the collision the two branes bounce away from one another again, and the intervening fifth dimension is reborn. The rebound (NOT the collision) also causes the Big Bang to occur in our universe.

Another aspect of this scenario is that both the branes were absolutely flat, thereby collided along every spot of their planar area simultaneously, and therefore created the flat universe we live in today.

This uniform application of force also insured that the entire universe would be uniform in how it developed afterwards.

Slight variations in the timing of impact between different areas of the two branes would be caused by quantum effects, and create the temperature difference necessary to seed galaxy generation. One after effect of the collision would be expansion such as we detect in our universe today.

The forces which attract branes to one another would be so miniscule that it could literally take an eternity for a collision to occur between any two or more branes.

-- When Branes Collide by Ron Cowen From Science News, Vol. 160, No. 12, Sept. 22, 2001, p. 184; Science Service; sciserv.org

Note that a given brane in the ekpyrotic model theory could be just like our universe today, filled with highly developed matter and energy. Or, it could contain just empty space.

In this scenario our universe would have been pretty large already at the moment of creation, rather than expanding like an explosion from a point. But it would still have been expanding from the start, and so share much in common with older theories. It's just that no special model of universal super fast inflation would be necessary to explain how it got from a point to the size it is today.

Although huge periods of time could separate brane collision events, the cycle likely does and will repeat eventually. If our universe participated in another collision, everything in it would likely be destroyed, and a whole new and different universe be created.

Of course, one implication of that is that practically all the branes floating around the fifth dimension are likely filled with matter and energy just like ours-- at least after all this cosmic machinery has operated long enough-- and so the infinity of possible universes idea from various sci fi works finds yet another way to be true. Of course, any universe that gets to last long enough will also eventually use up all its energy, and see its matter break down, until it's become a featureless black void once again.

-- A cosmic new theory on universe's origins By Faye Flam, April 10, 2001, INQUIRER; phillynews.com; Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.

We might get plenty of warning if another brane gets close enough in 4-D space to set off another Big Bang, and wipe out our universe. The warning would come from changes detected in the gravitational constant of our universe. If we see that, we'll know that our universe has only some billions of years left before it's utterly destroyed and made into a different image again.

-- Big bang by Govert Schilling; New Scientist Online News; 10 April 2001

Another source writing about M-theory says the two flat colliding surfaces were both four dimensional, floating in a five dimensional space.

-- Before the Big Bang By Dr David Whitehouse; BBC News Online; 10 April, 2001

Signposts 100 trillion trillion BC- 3,000,000,001 BC Contents


Approximately 13,837,000,000+ BC- 13,563,000,000+ BC: Something apparently initiates the Big Bang explosion, which will eventually develop into an entire Universe

The big bang itself seems to be preceded by nothingness-- no matter, no energy, no space, no time-- nothing at all.

It may be that the big bang is simply a natural phase change in some mysterious pre-existing medium which will be beyond the capacity of later big bang-derived sentients to examine or analyze, many billions of years later.

Or, alternatively, the big bang might be initiated by some mysterious intelligent entity or entities which exist on some basis outside or beyond the boundaries of the universe created by the big bang itself. For instance, the big bang may only be an inflation of spacetime, matter, and energy inside a black hole within a different universe-- produced naturally within that universe, or consciously manipulated by intelligent forces there-- there would be no way for us to know unless such intelligences planted clues within our own universe to enlighten us (such as were described by Carl Sagan in his novel Contact).

Could our own and other universes actually be created by advanced beings who simply know the recipe for such things and do it either for enjoyment or out of some philosophic or religious imperative?

This idea becomes more plausible as we ourselves draw ever nearer to learning the recipe too. Some of the basics seem to include creating a black hole via a highly energetic manipulation of around 10 kilograms of mass. Given a few other necessary conditions, a whole new universe will form and begin inflating inside the black hole, to possibly generate billions of galaxies and last for billions of years.

-- MEN LIKE GODS ["http://www.knowledge.co.uk/frontiers/sf104/sf104p13.htm"], From Science Frontiers #104, MAR-APR 1996 by William R. Corliss, citing Nigel Hawkes; "Aliens May Have Created Universe, Says US Scientist," London Times, August 21, 1995. Credit to B. Greenwood via L. Farish, UFO Newsclipping Service, #2 Caney Valley Drive, Plumerville, AR 72127-8725, found on or about February 3, 2000

Another possibility is that the big bang and the resulting Universe are simply components of an intricate software model running inside a vast and unimaginably powerful computer. In that case it would again be impossible for we (its inhabitants) to ever determine our true status, unless clues or opportunities for same were specifically allowed by the programmer(s).

Signposts 100 trillion trillion BC- 3,000,000,001 BC Contents


Approximately 13,837,000,000 BC- 13,563,000,000 BC: The Big Bang explosion brings our Universe into being

"...the universe is 13.7 billion years old, with an uncertainty of only 1 percent. It is composed of 4 percent ordinary matter, 23 percent of an unknown material called "dark matter," and 73 percent of mysterious dark energy."

-- Findings Give Big Boost to Big-Bang Theory ["http://abcnews.go.com/sections/scitech/DailyNews/bigbang_030514_csm.html"] By Robert C. Cowen; The Christian Science Monitor, Inc/abcnews.go.com; accessible online 1-30-04

-- Universe may be younger than previously thought, researchers say By ALEX DOMINGUEZ, Nando Media/Associated Press, September 22, 1999, http://www.nandotimes.com

The minimum age of the universe appears to be 12.5 billion years, with a margin of error of 3 billion years.

-- Universe at Least 12.5 Billion Years Old-Scientists; Yahoo!/Reuters; February 7, 2001

The speed of light may briefly be considerably faster now than it will be later.

-- Speed Of Light May Not Be Constant, Physicist Suggests, ScienceDaily Magazine, http://www.sciencedaily.com//releases/1999/10/991005114024.htm, 10/6/99, Source: University Of Toronto Contact: Steven De Sousa , News Services Officer Phone: (416) 978-6949; Email: steven.desousa@utoronto.ca CONTACT: Bruce Rolston U of T Public Affairs (416) 978-6974 bruce.rolston@utoronto.ca

One or more universal phase transitions may have occured very soon after the Big Bang. The energies created by certain of these transitions may at least partially explain the inflation rates of the early Universe, and the anti-gravity effects to be observed much later by humanity of the 20th century. Almost immediately after the Big Bang, a phase transition involving the separation of the electroweak and strong forces may have occured. Others seem to have followed. The last may have been when free quarks began forming into neutrons and protons.

-- deflating ["http://www.scitec.auckland.ac.nz/~king/Preprints/book/upd/umar99/cosinf/def.htm"], citing Curious correlation by Marcus Chown, New Sci 12 Dec 98 17, found on or about January 15, 2000

Soon after birth, the universe rippled with waves. Those waves which grew too large collapsed due to gravity over time, into dark halos. The gravity of these dark halos drew in gases present in the void, pressurizing them, and thereby creating the suitable conditions for the formation of galaxies. By around 5 billion BC most all galactic clusters in the universe were more or less complete, and stable.

-- Galaxy formation not random, says astronomer; 23 FEBRUARY 2001; EurekAlert!; Contact: Janet Wong, jf.wong@utoronto.ca, 416-978-6974, University of Toronto

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Approximately 13,836,900,000 BC- 13,562,900,000 BC: The 'Primordial Era' of the Universe ends

The first light element atoms are now condensing. This marks the beginning of the Stelliferous Era.

The Universe is approximately 100,000 years old now.

-- Time after time by Marcus Chown, describing the book The Five Ages of the Universe by Fred Adams and Greg Laughlin, Free Press; New Scientist ["http://www.newscientist.com"], 21 August 1999

Now the nuclear fusion reactors which will provide most of the power for the universe for some time to come (stars) are beginning to fire up.

-- The five ages of the universe By Peter N. Spotts, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor, July 15, 1999

At this time the entire universe consists of a hot plasma very much like that of the interior of 20th century humanity's Sun. The plasma consists largely of ions of helium and hydrogen, and plain electrons, lit up by the glare of the big bang explosion (the light hasn't yet faded, even 100,000 years after the blast).

But the presence of all this light doesn't mean there's anything to see. The plasma is so thick with free electrons the entire Universe is visibly opaque; there's no such thing as visibility. Even if a human body could somehow exist in the plasma without instant obliteration, that person literally could not see their hand in front of their face. Remember, it'd be like being inside the Sun...

-- How much does the Universe weigh?, EurekAlert! 13 DECEMBER 2000, citing New Scientist issue: 16 December 2000, http://www.newscientist.com

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Approximately 13,836,700,000 BC- 13,562,700,000 BC: The Universe is a fast expanding, fluid-like glob; inside the growing body a humming sound reflects its writhing internal circulation; Atoms form; The Universe becomes visible to any theoretical inhabitants (space becomes transparent; previously space was opaque)

The Universe is approximately 300,000 years old now (the one billion year range in the dating is due to uncertainties as to the timing of the Big Bang).

Before the stars ignited, even before the first atoms coalesced, the universe was creating sound-- you might say even singing. It was something like a hum, similar to the popular "Om" familiar to those who practice transcendental meditation. This was occuring some 300,000 years after the big bang. Light and some other particles of subatomic magnitude were the only elements present in the fledgling universe. This material was hot and highly compressed, and circulating internally like a huge glob of fluid. The universe's sound came from the ebb and flow of this circulation, alternatively compressing and dispersing the fluid of reality. Eventually the sound stopped, as the universe spread out and cooled sufficiently to allow some particles to condense into new forms, and others (like light photons) to separate from the rest. The newer, larger particles of matter will form into atoms, and eventually clump together to create the dust, gases, stars, planets (and life) to be recognized by sentient inhabitants billions of years from now.

-- The Cosmos Was Alive With the Sound of Matter By K.C. COLE, Los Angeles Times, May 11, 2000, URL: http://www.latimes.com/news/science/science/20000511/t000044636.html

The Universe now cools to some 4500 degrees Kelvin. Electrons lose their excess energy to become captured by nearby nuclei, thereby forming atoms. The disppearance of most of the free electrons clears the way for photons at last, thereby rendering the Universe visible to any theoretical internal observers.

-- How much does the Universe weigh?, EurekAlert! 13 DECEMBER 2000, citing New Scientist issue: 16 December 2000, http://www.newscientist.com

Signposts 100 trillion trillion BC- 3,000,000,001 BC Contents


Approximately 13,835,700,000 BC- 13,561,700,000 BC: 'Ghost' dwarf galaxies, perhaps made largely (90-99%) of dark matter, are now forming

These dim micro-galaxies may outnumber the much larger and brighter galaxies which will follow.

-- Dark ``Ghost'' Galaxies May Outnumber Milky Way Type By Deborah Zabarenko, http://dailynews.yahoo.com/; Reuters, January 7 1999

Signposts 100 trillion trillion BC- 3,000,000,001 BC Contents


Approximately 13,637,000,000 BC- 13,363,000,000 BC: The very first small clusters of stars may be forming

These early stars are typically a hundred times the size of 20th century humanity's Sun, and metal-free in content. They are coalescing in the centers of dark matter halos.

These early stars are very short-lived.

-- "Simulation Reveals Very First Stars That Formed In The Universe" 24 MARCH 1999, Contact: James E. Kloeppel, Physical Sciences Editor kloeppel@uiuc.edu 217-244-1073 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Quasars seemed to appear long before most stars coalesced in the universe. The core black holes of galaxies seem to be remnants of those quasars.

Black holes already existed when the universe reached about 1 billion years in age (the peak of quasar period).

Much less than 1% of the mass of an average galaxy resides inside black holes. In terms of mass, black holes seem to be more energy efficient than stars by an order of magnitude (10 times).

-- Galaxies and black holes; EurekAlert!; 16 FEBRUARY 2001; US Contact: Sally Pobojewski pobo@umich.edu 734-647-1844 University of Michigan

"...the universe is 13.7 billion years old...[and]...primordial stars did indeed ignite when our universe was only 200 million years old."

-- Findings Give Big Boost to Big-Bang Theory ["http://abcnews.go.com/sections/scitech/DailyNews/bigbang_030514_csm.html"] By Robert C. Cowen; The Christian Science Monitor, Inc/abcnews.go.com; accessible online 1-30-04

Signposts 100 trillion trillion BC- 3,000,000,001 BC Contents


Approximately 12,000,000,000 BC: Perhaps 125 billion galaxies have formed in our Universe by now; Some 300 billion black holes may exist at this time, and represent the majority of massive solid objects in the void (most other matter may be in dust and gas form now)

-- Experts Estimate 125 Billion Galaxies In Universe By Deborah Zabarenko, http://dailynews.yahoo.com; Reuters, January 7 1999

The universe could be 50% to 66% bigger than we thought, based on a new analysis of the total energy absorbed by interstellar dust.

-- the New York Times (datestamp 1-10-98)

The average galaxy may be over a million lightyears long and possess a mass greater than five trillion Suns. Our own galaxy possesses around 100 billion stars, and its halo may touch the halo of the Andromeda galaxy (galactic halos are enormous).

-- Survey Doubles Size of Galaxies By Discovery News Brief, DISCOVERY ONLINE, http://www.discovery.com/ found on or about 12-14-99

The first red dwarf stars may be appearing now. They will represent 70+ percent of all known stars by 1999 AD. They will also be among the longest-lived stars of all, utilizing a more efficient (regarding lifespan) and drawn out method to burn their fuel. The price they pay for this is their small size and dim nature. Any planets they host would have to be fairly close to enjoy niceties like liquid surface water.

-- Time after time by Marcus Chown, describing the book The Five Ages of the Universe by Fred Adams and Greg Laughlin, Free Press, 18.99/$25, ISBN 0684854228; From New Scientist ["http://www.newscientist.com"], 21 August 1999

Only some 5% of the mass in the Universe coalesces into the stars, planets, and gases making up all the galaxies and other easily detected elements of the Universe. The other 95% of the Universe goes into the creation of matter and energy which will be practically invisible but for gravity effects to 20th century human science.

Roughly 33% of this virtually invisible Universe may consist of randomly distributed clumps of cold dark matter. About 62% may be a uniformly distributed dark energy. 0.1% may be composed of hot dark matter-- basically neutrinos.

-- Planets, Stars And Gases Make Up Only 5% Of Universe By Steve Bradt, 01-Feb-2001, UniSci Daily, unisci.com

Our young universe circa 12 billion BC was filled with black holes-- upto 300 billion perhaps. Other types of bodies existed, but maybe the majority of massive objects in space at this time consisted of black holes.

-- Black Holes Once Ruled the Universe, Astronomers Say By Deborah Zabarenko; Yahoo!/Reuters; March 13, 2001

Signposts 100 trillion trillion BC- 3,000,000,001 BC Contents


Approximately 12,000,000,000 BC - 11,000,000,000 BC: This is the peak of quasar activity in the universe; Black holes already populate the universe by now

The universe is around one billion years old now.

As of 2001 AD, almost all galaxies appeared to have black holes at their cores.

Quasars seemed to appear long before most stars coalesced in the universe. The core black holes of galaxies seem to be remnants of those quasars.

Black holes already existed when the universe reached about 1 billion years in age (the peak of quasar period).

Much less than 1% of the mass of an average galaxy resides inside black holes. In terms of mass, black holes seem to be more energy efficient than stars by an order of magnitude (10 times).

-- Galaxies and black holes; EurekAlert!; 16 FEBRUARY 2001; US Contact: Sally Pobojewski pobo@umich.edu 734-647-1844 University of Michigan

Signposts 100 trillion trillion BC- 3,000,000,001 BC Contents


Approximately 10,000,000,000 BC: The Milky Way galaxy collides with (and absorbs) an alien dwarf galaxy

Some of the stars from the alien galaxy will exist in clusters within the Milky Way's galactic halo by 1999 AD. Other clusters of these alien stars may exist in fast moving groups relatively near to humanity's own solar system, circa 1999 AD.

-- Astronomers Find Debris Of Shattered Galaxy, 11/03/1999, Reuters/ABC News Internet Ventures

Galaxies like the Milky Way also seem to be developing their distinctive central bulges now.

Up to ten percent of a galaxy's stars may be clustered in the central bulge.

-- Hubble Tackles Questions About Cosmic Bulges By Deborah Zabarenko, http://dailynews.yahoo.com; News Science Headlines, October 7, 1999

Looking down on the Milky Way's galactic plane from its 'northern' aspect, the galaxy is rotating clock-wise.

In what direction does the Milky Way rotate? by Dr. Sten Odenwald, Ask the Astronomer (http://www2.stx.com/cafe/qadir/q1598.html), found on or about January 15, 2000

The nearest other galaxies to the Milky Way (in order of distance) include these other members of the Local Group:

The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (approx. 50 kpc). The Small may be two galaxies, one in front of another. All three of these alien galaxies, as well as the Milky Way itself, may be tenuously connected via the Magellanic Stream-- a handy bridge of hydrogen gas which could well someday help fuel deep space missions between all these galaxies. The Magellanic Clouds may occasionally pass through the disk of the Milky Way: this could be the reason for the hydrogen gas bridge. One such pass-through may take place around 500,000,000 BC. Some of the miscellaneous smaller galaxies may actually be debris from the Magellanic Clouds' pass-thrus of the Milky Way.

At minimum eight dwarf galaxies, 50 to 250 kpc away

The Andromeda galaxy, or M 31, roughly 670 kpc away, with its own seven orbiting dwarf galaxies, and near twin galaxy M 33. M 31 is very similar to the Milky Way (but M 31 is slightly larger). M 31 appears to have a double nucleus.

A few miscellaneous other galaxies

The Local Group consists primarily of two galactic clusters, one dominated by the Milky Way, and the other by Andromeda.

-- THE NEARBY GALAXIES, CHAPTER 24: The Local Galaxies ["http://beast.as.arizona.edu/textbook/text/CH24.html"], found on or about January 15, 2000

The Milky Way has a vast halo of chaotically moving but widely dispersed star clusters (approx. 170), isolated stars, gas clouds, and dark matter. The stars here are mostly very old, in the range of 12 billion years or so by the 20th century. The halo may represent the initial digestion region for smaller galaxies; the Milky Way may have grown from colliding and merging with smaller galaxies over the eons. The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds will likely merge with the Milky Way themselves over the next 10 billion years (from 2000 AD). The Sagittarius dwarf galaxy orbiting the Milky Way has an even shorter time to live before a merger: only 750 million years. The core of the Milky Way lies some 26,000 light-years from Earth.

The galactic disk is fatter in the farther reaches than it is towards the core. Orbits of the stars in the disk also are faster somewhat in proportion to their nearness to the core. Next comes the central bulge, and inside that, the core black hole (Sagittarius A) and its accretion disk mass funnel. Sagittarius A doesn't seem to produce the same outpouring of radiation we observe from other galaxies, which is puzzling (note that it could be that an advanced civilization is tapping its power, thereby reducing wasted energy output).

The dark matter of the galactic halo may hold 95% of the mass of the entire galaxy.

The Andromeda galaxy may be twice as big as the Milky Way. These two galaxies look to eventually collide and merge, some 1-3 billion years beyond the 20th century.

-- explorezone.com NEWS: A tourist's guide to the Milky Way By Robert Roy Britt, explorezone.com . 01.05.00, http://www.space.com/

The Milky Way's galactic halo largely consists of gas some half-million degrees in temperature, and seems to have been generated by thousands of supernovae. The halo is somewhat football-shaped, and rises to 5000 to 10,000 light years in thickness above the galactic plane, as well as below.

-- Halo Around Milky Way From Thousands Of Exploding Stars, 13-Jan-2000, Daily University Science News, http://www.unisci.com [Contact: Michael Purdy]

Signposts 100 trillion trillion BC- 3,000,000,001 BC Contents


Approximately 8,000,000,000 BC - 4,000,000,000 BC: The expansion of our Universe appears to speed up now for some reason

Our universe is not only expanding, it is expanding at an accelerating rate. The speed up seems to have begun sometime between 8 billion and 4 billion BC.

"Dark energy", something with an effect like anti-gravity, seems to be pushing all the masses in the Universe away from one another. Maybe 65% of the universe consists of dark energy.

-- Distant Supernova Hints at Dark, Repulsive Energy By Deborah Zabarenko; Yahoo!Reuters; April 2, 2001; also http://oposite.stsci.edu/pubinfo/pr/2001/09

Signposts 100 trillion trillion BC- 3,000,000,001 BC Contents


Approximately 5,000,000,000 BC: Most of the galactic clusters in the universe may be more or less complete in their formation by now

Soon after birth, the universe rippled with waves. Those waves which grew too large collapsed due to gravity over time, into dark halos. The gravity of these dark halos drew in gases present in the void, pressurizing them, and thereby creating the suitable conditions for the formation of galaxies. By around 5 billion BC most all galactic clusters in the universe were more or less complete, and stable.

-- Galaxy formation not random, says astronomer; 23 FEBRUARY 2001; EurekAlert!; Contact: Janet Wong, jf.wong@utoronto.ca, 416-978-6974, University of Toronto

Signposts 100 trillion trillion BC- 3,000,000,001 BC Contents


Approximately 5,000,000,000 BC: Our young Sun is an unruly and dangerous star at this time

Our very young Sun is outputting much bigger and more dangerous solar flares now than it'll be capable of later, during the evolution of humanity. The X-ray flares of 5 billion BC look to be hundreds of times more numerous, and maybe half a million times more powerful than what the circa 2000 AD Sun will seem capable of producing.

Such flares can produce isotopes like beryllium-10, calcium-41, and aluminum-26, among other effects.

-- Orion Findings May Solve Mystery Of Our Solar System By Barbara K. Kennedy; unisci.com; 07-Sep-2001

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Approximately 5,000,000,000 BC- 4,600,000,000+ BC: A massive proto-Jupiter may splinter to form Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus-- then throw Neptune and Uranus into orbits much further from the Sun

The Solar System is newly formed around this time. Our system's asteroids though preceded the planets in formation. Comets and asteroids may differ primarily in the distance of their initial formation from the Sun; solar energy stripped the nearer asteroids of their volatiles like ice and gases, while the comets were protected at the colder outer edges of the system.

-- MITZI PERDUE: Killers from outer space, Nando Media/Scripps Howard News Service, November 23, 1999, http://www.nandotimes.com

At least some asteroids boasted liquid salt water within two million years of the coalescence of the solid bodies of the solar system from the initial dust cloud. Thus, not long after 4,570,000,000 BC at least some spots in the system were already conducive to life formation.

-- Salt Crystals Point to Wet Start of Solar System By Maggie Fox, Yahoo!Reuters, June 8 2000

It's believed that around 4.6 billion BC items of the Oort cloud formed in roughly the region of Jupiter's orbit today. Then over the next 100 million years Jupiter's gravity caused portions of the cloud debris to spiral into the Sun or spin out beyond our solar system, with everything else settling into the Oort cloud's present location. The comets within the Oort cloud could number in the trillions.

-- Mystery of far-out planetoid deepens ["http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994780"] by Maggie McKee; 16 March 04; newscientist.com

The solar system remains filled with the scattered leftover debris of planet and moon creation. However, the orbits and gravity of the gas giants are gradually clearing away the excess material, either absorbing it, or flinging it towards the Sun or out into interstellar space. One consequence of this cleaning job is changes in the orbits of some planets in the system, including the gas giants themselves.

One theory concerning this time is that Jupiter's orbit may move inwards towards the Sun, while Neptune's moves out. Pluto may be caught in the interplay and pulled into the eccentric orbit by which 20th century humanity will know it. The migration of Neptune and Pluto further out of system may have required tens of millions of years. Neptune's migration may be about 30% of its orbital radius from the Sun as observed by the 20th century. Changes in the orbits of Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus during the same period may be 2, 10, and 15%. Most of the movements occured within a period of 100 million years or less.

Other theories also exist for these events (some are listed below).

-- Scientific American: Feature Article: Migrating Planets: September 1999 by Renu Malhotra, http://www.sciam.com/

Neptune and Uranus appear to have formed closer in to the Sun than their orbits of 2000 AD would make it seem. Apparently interaction with the gravity of Jupiter wrenched them from their original orbits to others much further from the Sun. There doesn't seem to have been sufficient gas to create such planets in those far orbits early on.

Neptune and Uranus likely formed in a swath of the early proto-solar system disk shared with both Juptiter and Saturn (the other gas giants). Jupiter likely enjoyed the innermost position, and so largest meals of dust and debris from which to grow. Ultimately its greater gravity (perhaps with an assist from Saturn too) whipped the lesser worlds of Neptune and Uranus out into the further reaches of the system.

All this occured quite some time before the formation of the Earth itself.

Scientists disagree about the two planet's (Uranus and Neptune) original distance from the Sun, and the violence with which they were moved to new orbits. Some think the orbital shift was a gradual one.

-- ABCNEWS.com : New Theory on Uranus, Neptune Births By Pamela Sampson, ABC News Internet Ventures/The Associated Press, Dec. 8, 1999, http://www.abcnews.go.com/

Some scientists believe Jupiter may have originally formed somewhat further out from the Sun than it exists circa 1999 AD. Jupiter and Saturn with their substantial gaseous atmospheres are considered 'gas giants' while Neptune and Uranus are classified more as 'ice giants', with thinner atmospheres. All four may have begun in same approximate orbital band now (20th century AD) owned by Jupiter and Saturn alone, with the smaller Neptune and Uranus thrown clear during the later stages of formation or after. Jupiter itself may have been pushed inwards towards the Sun, in a reaction helping to balance the momentum changes to the system overall. The beginnings of all four may have been in one huge proto-Jupiter several times the mass of circa 1999 AD Jupiter-- which soon became unstable, breaking up into Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and perhaps still more, lesser bodies.

Computer simulations suggest Uranus and Neptune followed somewhat chaotic orbits about the Sun for maybe half a million years, then gradually settled into more stable orbits. This period of orbital shift could also have lasted much longer, like millions of years.

Among the implications of all these early solar system games of musical chairs regarding orbits, is that the Earth itself may have moved too, since its formation.

-- BBC News | SCI/TECH | Jupiter gave birth to Uranus and Neptune By Dr David Whitehouse, 8 December 1999, http://www.bbc.co.uk/

The composition of Jupiter's atmosphere suggests it and perhaps other planets (like Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) may have begun forming quite some time before the Sun ignited.

By contrast, comets formed after the Sun's ignition.

An alternative explanation for Jupiter's atmosphere is that it originally formed further out from the Sun (beyond the orbit of Neptune circa 1999) and only later moved inwards to its longer term orbit. But this seems unlikely.

-- Jupiter: Older Than the Sun? Discovery Online By Larry O'Hanlon, Discovery News Brief, http://www.discovery.com, found on or about 11-18-99

There are also other possibilities. For instance, Uranus and Neptune may take form considerably closer to the Sun than their later 20th century orbits will indicate. Jupiter may be the nearest to the Sun, thereby enjoying more mass with which to build itself into the system's greatest giant. Saturn too enjoys similar conditions. But once Jupiter and/or Saturn achieve a certain critical size in mass, their gravity effects may wreak havoc on the orbits of other planets. Neptune and Uranus might be flung outwards to new orbits, perhaps requiring a half million years or so to finally achieve orbital stability once more.

-- explorezone.com NEWS: Did Jupiter bully other planets in sibling rivalry? By Robert Roy Britt, explorezone.com . 12.08.99, ez news, http://www.flycast.com

Another theory is that around 4,600,000,000 BC the outermost planet of the solar system was Saturn, and Neptune and Uranus would take much longer to form from leftover system building blocks.

-- Neptune attacks! by Ivan Semeniuk; New Scientist magazine, 07 April 2001

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Approximately 4,600,000,000+ BC: The formation of Mars is more or less complete

The Solar System too is newly formed around this time. Our system's asteroids though preceded the planets in formation. Comets and asteroids may differ primarily in the distance of their initial formation from the Sun; solar energy stripped the nearer asteroids of their volatiles like ice and gases, while the comets were protected at the colder outer edges of the system.

-- MITZI PERDUE: Killers from outer space, Nando Media/Scripps Howard News Service, November 23, 1999, http://www.nandotimes.com

At least some asteroids boasted liquid salt water within two million years of the coalescence of the solid bodies of the solar system from the initial dust cloud. Thus, not long after 4,570,000,000 BC at least some spots in the system were already conducive to life formation.

-- Salt Crystals Point to Wet Start of Solar System By Maggie Fox, Yahoo!Reuters, June 8 2000

Some scientists believe Mars has always been a dry world. That it began as an unfinished 'embryo' of a planet, situated in the early asteroid belt (which itself spanned from 0.5 to perhaps 4 AU distance from our Sun-- a considerably wider girth than the belt takes up circa 2004). The Mars embryo grew with accumulated collisions involving smaller comets and asteroid fragments while Earth grew more from much larger planetary embryos coming together. The larger chunks hitting Earth possessed far more water than those striking Mars-- hence Mars ended up getting less--perhaps far less- than 30% the water Earth did.

-- Why is Mars So Dry? ["http://www.universetoday.com/am/publish/why_mars_so_dry.html?1622004"]; Feb 16, 2004; universetoday.com

Being further out from the Sun, Mars may be a bit further along in its formation and cooling than the Earth by now-- perhaps by a 100 million years or so. The wildcard in Mars' development may be the rate and degree of cosmic impacts it continues to suffer, compared to Earth.

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Approximately 4,600,000,000 BC: The formation of Earth One/Waterworld is more or less complete

-- Old Arctic Water May Hold Clues to Origin of Life, http://dailynews.yahoo.com; Reuters, Science Headlines, December 16 1999

The Solar System too is newly formed around this time.

-- MITZI PERDUE: Killers from outer space, Nando Media/Scripps Howard News Service, November 23, 1999, http://www.nandotimes.com

The face of Earth One from space would be unrecognizable to 21st century human beings; because the continents are all the wrong shape and location. Earth One's geography likely does not in any way resemble Earth Two's at any point in the history of both. What did the map of Earth One look like? No one knows. But as Earth One seems to have been a wetter world than Earth Two will be, plus does not get nearly the tectonic processes and others Earth Two will list in its long history, Earth One would likely be an ocean world if given the chance (more time), with only a few hundred relatively large volcanic islands and cosmic impact created archipelagoes dotting its seas (additional volcanoes would exist submerged under the oceans).

However, despite its total reserves of water being quite substantial, Earth One's ocean basins may be virtually empty at this time; all or most of its water may not be in liquid form. At best perhaps boiling lakes exist in the depths of certain great chasms distributed over the planet.

Earth One at this time is a hellish place for any lifeforms remotely resembling human beings. Large asteroid and comet impacts are still frequent, and the planet spends much time shrouded in thick hot clouds like Venus of the 20 century.

At least some asteroids boasted liquid salt water within two million years of the coalescence of the solid bodies of the solar system from the initial dust cloud. Thus, not long after 4,570,000,000 BC at least some spots in the system were already conducive to life formation.

-- Salt Crystals Point to Wet Start of Solar System By Maggie Fox, Yahoo!Reuters, June 8 2000

Earth One's orbit about the Sun is much too close to that of another embryonic planet: sooner or later they will collide. Earth One is only half the size Earth Two will be. The threatening other orbiting body is about a third the size of Earth One. Both bodies are hellish places at present, suffering constant bombardments from space.

-- Firebirth By Jeff Hecht, From New Scientist ["http://www.newscientist.com"], 7 August 1999

Being further out from the Sun, the fourth planet (Orpheus) and Mars may be a bit further along in their formation and cooling than the Earth by now-- perhaps by a 100 million years or so. The wildcard in their development may be the rate and degree of cosmic impacts they continue to suffer, compared to Earth One.

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Approximately 4,500,000,000 BC: Earth One/Waterworld is completely destroyed by collision with another planet; Earth Two (tilted 70 degrees from vertical) and the Moon are formed

Only four percent of the Moon's mass is contained in the core (the Earth's core represents 30% of its mass).

It appears the collision failed to have much interaction with the Earth's core, instead mostly disrupting the deep mantle.

The alien body which struck the Earth appears to have been roughly Mars-sized.

-- Moon Probably Split From Earth In Collision - NASA, Reuters; http://dailynews.yahoo.com; March 16 1998

The Moon will show signs in 1994 AD that it has not yet lost quite all its molten interior from younger days.

-- THE MOON: STILL PARTLY MOLTEN? From Science Frontiers Digest of Scientific Anomalies ["http://www.knowledge.co.uk/frontiers/"] #96, NOV-DEC 1994 by William R. Corliss, citing Richard A. Kerr; "Clementine Mines Its First Nuggets on the Moon," Science, 264:1666, 1994

Earth One looks to have been the prototype for an eventual waterworld, offering immense oceans, with fiery volcanic peaks and related archipelagoes dotting the seas (if only it would exist long enough). Earth One was smaller than Earth Two-- maybe half its size. It spun very fast, making each day last only four hours. It also wobbled tremendously on its axis, similar to Mars, making the climate for any given region unpredictable from one year to the next (this condition would have kept any life present subdued to a very primitive state). Earth One's eventual global ocean would have helped moderate climate impact somewhat, but the frequent extremes of the early eons would still pose serious challenges to any life arising near or on the surface of the world.

-- Firebirth By Jeff Hecht, From New Scientist ["http://www.newscientist.com"], 7 August 1999

Earth Two is a considerably dryer world, with some of its water having been blasted into space by the collision, and the rest forced to cover a much larger world in terms of real estate than it did before.

The collision may have consisted of two separate impacts taking place over a period of a couple days. The first blow may have been a glancing one, perhaps destroying only a third to a half of Earth One's surface, while shaking the remainder of the planet to its roots. But then the bouncing congealed mass of the striker and strikee failed to escape the gravity well and fell upon the wounded planet again, this time hitting half a world away from the first impact: this finished forever the fate of Earth One/Waterworld.

Some call the foreign body which transforms Earth One/Waterworld into Earth Two Orpheus.

After the second, consummating impact, a smaller remnant of mass hurled from the colliding worlds finally manages to achieve an orbit about Earth Two, which will have it gradually spiralling away from Earth Two over billions of years. This new body will someday be called the Moon.

The Moon takes perhaps a couple centuries to fully form. But its immense, closely orbiting mass now and later exacts a toll on its host: rather than the increasing distance-over-time moderated tidal forces 20th century humanity will know, today every tidal cycle on Earth would create a tsunami-- or tidal wave.

Or, it would if there were any liquid water on the planet to heave about so. But it takes a while for the oceans to reform, and the giant tsunamis to begin their reign.

Earth Two continues to wobble wildly on its axis, but now the orbiting mass of the Moon is constantly tugging at that wobble, lessening it over time to something much more moderate and predictable in scope. Something that could produce a more reliable seasonal climate worldwide, that future, more complex biological forms might base their life cycles upon.

Over the next couple billion years the Moon may sometimes serve as a shield for Earth Two, protecting it from some of the comet and asteroid impacts it might otherwise suffer.

-- If We Had No Moon, 12-18-99, The Discovery Channel, discovery.com, and Firebirth By Jeff Hecht, From New Scientist ["http://www.newscientist.com"], 7 August 1999

The freshly made Moon may form only some 18,600 miles or 30,000 km above the Earth. By 1999 AD it will be 384,000 km away from the Earth.

-- Scientific American: Feature Article: Migrating Planets: September 1999 by Renu Malhotra, http://www.sciam.com/

Earth Two's solid inner core is nearly as large as the Earth's entire Moon, and its spin is not synchronized with the rest of the planet. The magnetic field created by this and other phenomena reverses its orientation roughly every few hundred thousand years. The outer, liquid core looks to be 90% iron and 10% other elements such as sulfur and oxygen. Heat convection within the liquid outer core appears to create material flows which in turn help generate the Earth's magnetic field. In computer simulations pole reversals seem to take a 1000 years, during which the geomagnetic field may be negligible (inviting severe radiation danger to surface life) and multiple magnetic poles chaotically dance about the planet.

The solid inner core may always rotate with a spin rate based on the spin of the rest of the planet some 60,000 to 100,000 years before.

-- Core Concerns By RICHARD MONASTERSKY, October 19, 1996, Science News Online, http://www.sciencenews.org

A gamma burster occuring close to our embryonic solar system (perhaps within 300 lightyears) may have helped accelerate or otherwise affect its formation, by melting dust grains and facilitating their coalescence into larger bodies. If so, then perhaps all the beady iron/silicon chondrules which would later contribute to the creation of planets like Earth formed within mere minutes.

The scientists responsible for this study believe only one out of a thousand Sun-like stars in the galaxy would undergo similar processes during system formation. If this is true, then the formation of rocky planets like Earth in other systems might be pretty rare, leaving the galaxy overwhelmingly populated with systems consisting mostly of gas giants and miscellaneous debris like comets and asteroids-- with few chances for Earth-like life to begin and thrive.

Most experts in this field don't subscribe to any theory where all the solar system's chondrules formed simultaneously, in a single event-- but acknowledge there's presently insufficient information to be certain as to exactly how they were created.

-- A violent blast of radiation spawned the planets by Robert Adler, New Scientist ["http://www.newscientist.com"] issue 11th September 99/EurekAlert!, UK Contact: Claire Bowles claire.bowles@rbi.co.uk 44-171-331-2751 US Contact: New Scientist Washington office newscidc@idt.net 202-452-1178

A new theory on Moon creation suggests that only a single impact occured rather than two, that the Earth was rendered completely molten through and through by the collision with a Mars-sized body. The other planet was completely destroyed, with portions contributing to the Moon and perhaps the reformed Earth as well.

The Moon may have formed by only about 100 years after the collision. The blow could have given an extra spin to the Earth, with days lasting only around five hours. Since then the Moon has slowly moved further away from Earth, helping to slow the Earth's rotation rate and lengthen its days.

There could have been over a dozen total Mars-size planets in the early solar system that ended up as no part of today's known planetary family. It could be gravitational slingshot effects threw them out of the system entirely, or at least to the far outer edges, where it might take us years or decades more to detect them.

-- New Details on Planetary Crash That Created Moon By Deborah Zabarenko; Reuters Limited/Yahoo Science; August 17, 2001, and other sources

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Approximately 4,500,000,000 BC: Mars is affected by the collision between Earth One and Orpheus

-- Moon Probably Split From Earth In Collision - NASA, Reuters; http://dailynews.yahoo.com; March 16 1998

The merger between Earth One (the third planet) and Orpheus (the fourth) serves as the breaking point for an imbalance which has been growing in the Solar System for some time now. Namely, most all the planets, including Orpheus, Earth One, and Mars, had been accumulating mass from collisions with asteroids and comets. Thus, they had all been growing-- and growing at different rates, leading to increased instability in all their orbits. However, still more severe effects were also in play: specifically, Orpheus suffered sufficient changes to its rotation, orientation, and orbit from these impacts to nudge it out of its proper orbit and into an eventual collision course with Earth One. These changes in the course of Orpheus may have affected Mars' orbit more than Earth's, since Mars is significantly smaller, as well as further out from the Sun's powerful gravity well. Mars' orbit too began changing as Orpheus moved inwards-- but the biggest changes by far come about in the aftermath of the collision involving Earth One and Orpheus.

These changes to Mars' orbit almost certainly affect the planet's climate and potential for hosting life.

-- A VANISHED PLANET? From Science Frontiers #113, SEP-OCT 1997 by William R. Corliss, citing Jeff Hecht; "Did Extra Planet Vanish into Outer Space?" New Scientist, p. 18, June 14, 1997

Note that Mars too has suffered from instability in its tilt due to cosmic impacts.

Now, as Mars moves inwards toward the Sun, changing gravity tides help generate extra heat in its core. This strengthens Mar's geomagnetic field, thereby helping protect its atmosphere from depletion by the solar wind, as well as its surface from dangerous radiation.

20th century Mars' surface atmospheric pressure is 1% that of Earth's. Mars' considerably smaller quantity of geothermal heat than Earth may have left it with little or none of the tectonic plate processes which tend to recycle and replenish the Earth's own atmosphere. Thus, Mars couldn't replenish what was lost to space or trapped in its crust, and its atmosphere dwindled to what is seen today (circa 1999 AD).

At least the above is what scientists thought before they acquired new information through the Mars Global Surveyor program. Now the problem of what happened to Mars' atmosphere appears to be more complex than that described above.

The cosmic bombardment Mars received early in its history may have thrown off a large part of its atmosphere-- perhaps as much as 99 percent. The magnetic component of the solar wind may also have caused a slow trickle drain of the atmosphere into space, over time.

It may be that Mars was able to replenish some of its lost atmosphere from internal reserves after the intial big loss. And Mars seems to have enjoyed its own geomagnetic field too early on, which would have acted as a shield against losses due to the solar wind. But as Mars' internal heat ran down, so did the internal dynamics spawning the magnetic shield-- and the losses to space increased. The failure of the shield came about in Mars' youth-- not recently.

There's a strong possibility that Mars was never warm enough for liquid water in any normal sense; it could be that water only flowed briefly in various locations due to catastrophic cosmic impacts or volcanic eruptions. And those brief moments have been captured forever in the landscape observable in 2000 AD. Long term landshaping could have occured with flowing water underneath protective ice sheets over millennia, with the ice sheets finally collapsing and all the water thereafter evaporating to space or seeping into the crust.

At best Mars might occasionally experience unusual periods of 10,000 years or so at a time of warmer temperatures due to massive outgassing (volcanic eruptions?), along with liquid water. But such brief stints would seem to be very limited in regards to encouraging widespread and complex lifeform development.

Mars' most interesting period may have been its first billion years of existence.

- Mystery of the missing atmosphere by Oliver Morton, New Scientist issue: 20th November 99 Source: Geo-Marine Letters (vol 18, p 285), New Scientist (http://www.newscientist.com) and EurekAlert! ["http://www.eurekalert.org/"]

Evidence has been found for either or both a wetter and more geologically active young Mars.

-- Scientific American: IN BRIEF Hot Finding on Mars ["http://www.sciam.com/1998/0898issue/0898inbrief.html"]

If Mars is approximately 100 million years ahead of Earth in formation (and assuming the probability of life developing under suitable conditions is 1.0), then microbial life is now appearing in certain spots on Mars (perhaps subterranean or aquatic).

Volcanic gases which have cooled to 150 to 300 degrees C may spontaneously form rudimentary hydrocarbons from carbon monoxide and hydrogen wherever magnetite compounds are available to serve as a catalyst. Such hydrocarbons represent part of the recipe for life formation. Other items needed for life emergence may also find such environmental conditions to be fertile for their development. Indeed, the circumstances for such developments may actually have been better in Earth's early history than they will be later, after the planet possesses a much higher level of atmospheric oxygen, and its typical lava temperatures have declined.

Similar processes may well have been available on a multitude of other worlds early on, including Mars.

-- Children of the volcano, ExoScience - News - Science / by David Watanabe, March 27th, 2000

[To see scientific citations regarding the 1.0 (100%) probability of life in space, please refer to CONTACT! Alien Speculations: The Rise and Fall of Star Faring Civilizations in Our Own Galaxy.]

It appears that Mars' formation entailed a rapid cooling, which may also have led to faster appearance of oceans on the planet than perhaps took place on Earth. Early Mars' oceans appeared quickly, and dominated the lowlands of the northern hemisphere. The vast region covered by the oceans also dissipated Mars' internal heat at a great pace. It seems that Mars possessed an Earth-like magnetic field protecting it from excessive solar radiation, as well as enjoyed an internal geologic dynamism such a magnetic field implies. That dynamism could have generated greenhouse gases for Mars to help it retain sufficient heat to maintain liquid water on or near the surface.

-- View Inside Mars Reveals Rapid Cooling And Buried Channels ["http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/03/000315080133.htm"], 3/15/2000, citing NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (http://www.jpl.nasa.gov)

There are magnetic indications that Mars at one time enjoyed a dynamic interior and protective magnetic field similar to Earth-- including related characteristics like plate tectonics and volcanism.

However, such geological and magnetic dynamism appears not to have occured in the planet's earliest history, but rather sometime later.

This may be evidence for Mars enjoying its greatest dynamism due to gravity tide effects from its shifting orbit around the time of the collision of Orpheus with Earth One and afterwards. Further evidence may lie in the fact that Mars dynamism seems to have only lasted a short time too, once it began. If most all the dynamism was due to orbit changes related to the Earth One/Orpheus collision, then that could well have made such dynamism short-lived.

Evidence from Earth's Moon however suggests that internal dynamism might require several hundred million years to get started after initial formation, anyway, regardless of other factors.

-- Mars' History Mirrored Earth's By Larry O'Hanlon, May 31, 2000, discover news brief

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Approximately 4,400,000,000 BC: Liquid water (perhaps oceans of it) , solidified rock continents, and surface temperatures of around 100 degrees C offer surprisingly hospitable conditions on Earth at this time-- at least inbetween catastrophic asteroid and comet impacts; Life is perhaps appearing and then being extinguished again repeatedly by the wild fluctuations in conditions

-- CNN - Scientists more optimistic about life beyond Earth - October 15, 1998, Associated Press/CNN

Volcanic gases which have cooled to 150 to 300 degrees C may spontaneously form rudimentary hydrocarbons from carbon monoxide and hydrogen wherever magnetite compounds are available to serve as a catalyst. Such hydrocarbons represent part of the recipe for life formation. Other items needed for life emergence may also find such environmental conditions to be fertile for their development. Indeed, the circumstances for such developments may actually have been better in Earth's early history than they will be later, after the planet possesses a much higher level of atmospheric oxygen, and its typical lava temperatures have declined.

Similar processes may well have been available on a multitude of other worlds early on, including Mars.

-- Children of the volcano, ExoScience - News - Science / ["http://www.exosci.com/main/news/shownews/?id=1202"] by David Watanabe, March 27th, 2000

Around 4.4 billion BC- 4.3 billion BC it appears Earth had already recovered sufficiently from the Moon collision and ongoing asteroid and comet bombardments to possess a solidified crust, continents, and oceans, as well as a relatively cool temperature overall (hovering around 100 degrees Centigrade), considering the circumstances. Indeed, the planet was cooling far more rapidly than many scientists expect it should have. Could this perhaps be due to a very thin or nearly non-existent atmosphere during much of this primordial period?

-- BBC News SCI-TECH Ancient crystal questions Earth's history ["http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_1110000/1110089.stm"] By Dr David Whitehouse, 11 January, 2001; ScienceDaily Magazine -- Earlier Water On Earth Oldest Rock Suggests Hospitable Young Planet ["http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010111073459.htm"], Source: National Science Foundation (http://www.nsf.gov), 1/15/2001; and Old timer by Jeff Hecht, New Scientist Online News, 10 January 2001, citing Nature vol 409, p175, p178

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Approximately 4,000,000,000 BC: The oceans boil; Continents are rapidly forming; Extremophiles may be living below the Earth's surface; Earth's Moon's internal geology turns dynamic

Asteroids are still impacting the Earth regularly; the oceans are boiling hot from such energies.

-- Life in the Inferno: Researchers Identify Factors that Determine Where Microorganisms Can Survive in the Hellish World Deep Underground, EurekAlert! ["http://www.eurekalert.org/"], 16 DECEMBER 1999, Contact: Mary Beckman beckmt@inel.gov 208-526-0061 Idaho National E & E Laboratory, http://www.inel.gov

The newly formed Earth of some four billion BC had a day 14 hours long and an atmosphere consisting of (1) carbon dioxide, (2) nitrogen, (3) methane, and (4) sulfur.

Regular impacts by asteroids vaporize all the oceans and combine with the heat of the Earth's own interior to re-dissolve large sections of the crust into molten rock again (not that the Earth needs help re-melting regions of its crust; it likely happens frequently around 4 billion BC even without impacts to help). Large asteroid impacts serve repeatedly to raise surface temperatures on Earth to 1700 degrees Celsius, and keep them that way for millennia afterwards.

By the early 21st century the crust in continents will typically be five times as thick as that of seabeds. It'll also usually be a lot older. The oldest seabed crust of the time will appear to be 200 million years old, with over 50% of the continental crust almost 3 billion years old.

-- How Earth Rocks By Karen Wright, DISCOVER Vol. 22 No. 2 (February 2001)

Earth's Moon's internals now become dynamic in ways similar to the geology of Earth-- but it won't last long.

-- Mars' History Mirrored Earth's By Larry O'Hanlon, May 31, 2000, discover news brief

Mars may be a quieter, more peaceful place than Earth now, in regards to cosmic impacts. But its previous (perhaps ongoing) orbital adjustments due to the destruction of Orpheus continue to fuel its internal heat engine, maintaining its geomagnetic field and encouraging geological processes like volcanic eruptions-- thereby warming the planet and generating some atmosphere. However, Mars is far from an ideal environment for life. Liquid surface water only exists for a few tens of thousands of years at a time, at most-- and usually for far briefer periods. Sometimes 100,000 years pass without liquid water on the planet's surface. The brief warm deluges it does enjoy usually stem from supervolcanic eruptions or large cosmic impacts melting large amounts of subterranean or polar ice, which evaporates into the atmosphere and then rains back onto the surface to create massive floods and short-lived streams.

Mars' surface atmospheric pressure is 1% that of Earth's. Mars' considerably smaller quantity of geothermal heat than Earth may have left it with little or none of the tectonic plate processes which tend to recycle and replenish the Earth's own atmosphere. Thus, Mars couldn't replenish what was lost to space or trapped in its crust, and its atmosphere dwindled to what is seen today (circa 1999 AD).

At least the above is what scientists thought before they acquired new information through the Mars Global Surveyor program. Now the problem of what happened to Mars' atmosphere appears to be more complex than that described above.

The cosmic bombardment Mars received early in its history may have thrown off a large part of its atmosphere-- perhaps as much as 99 percent. The magnetic component of the solar wind may also have caused a slow trickle drain of the atmosphere into space, over time.

It may be that Mars was able to replenish some of its lost atmosphere from internal reserves after the intial big loss. And Mars seems to have enjoyed its own geomagnetic field too early on, which would have acted as a shield against losses due to the solar wind. But as Mars' internal heat ran down, so did the internal dynamics spawning the magnetic shield-- and the losses to space increased. The failure of the shield came about in Mars' youth-- not recently.

There's a strong possibility that Mars was never warm enough for liquid water in any normal sense; it could be that water only flowed briefly in various locations due to catastrophic cosmic impacts or volcanic eruptions. And those brief moments have been captured forever in the landscape observable in 1999 AD. Long term landshaping could have occured with flowing water underneath protective ice sheets over millennia, with the ice sheets finally collapsing and all the water evaporating or seeping into the crust.

At best Mars might occasionally experience unusual periods of 10,000 years or so at a time of warmer temperatures due to massive outgassing (volcanic eruptions?), along with liquid water. But such brief stints would seem to be very limited in regards to encouraging widespread and complex lifeform development.

Mars' most interesting period may have been its first billion years of existence.

-- Mystery of the missing atmosphere by Oliver Morton, New Scientist issue: 20th November 99 Source: Geo-Marine Letters (vol 18, p 285), New Scientist (http://www.newscientist.com) and EurekAlert! ["http://www.eurekalert.org/"]

The Moon's immense, closely orbiting mass exacts a toll on Earth its host: rather than the gentle tides 20th century humanity will know, today every tide on Earth is a tsunami-- or tidal wave. The Moon is simply too close, its gravity effects too strong. Global sea coasts suffer horrific bombardments from the sea daily, with substantial erosion consequences, among others.

Earth Two continues to wobble wildly on its axis, but now the orbiting mass of the Moon is constantly tugging at that wobble, lessening it over time to something much more moderate and predictable in scope. Something that could produce a more reliable seasonal climate worldwide, that future, more complex biological forms might base their life cycles upon.

Over the next couple billion years the Moon may sometimes serve as a shield for Earth Two, protecting it from some of the comet and asteroid impacts it might otherwise suffer.

-- If We Had No Moon, 12-18-99, The Discovery Channel, discovery.com, and Firebirth By Jeff Hecht, From New Scientist ["http://www.newscientist.com"], 7 August 1999

The freshly made Moon may form only some 18,600 miles or 30,000 km above the Earth. By 1999 AD it will be 384,000 km away from the Earth.

-- Scientific American: Feature Article: Migrating Planets: September 1999 by Renu Malhotra, http://www.sciam.com/

The recoalesced Earth's appearance from space (if the usually obstructing cloud layer could be penetrated) could be deceptive, once its water returned to a liquid state: it might appear to be even wetter than Earth One, but it's not.

What happened was this: the two punch impact from Orpheus succeeded in liquifying the entire surface of the Earth, which made the planet's surface far smoother than it had been before...

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Keep in mind Earth One formed more haphazardly and piecemeal than Earth Two-- essentially as asteroids and comets violently clumping together in the void. Too, Earth One had little or no protective atmosphere and biosphere to reduce the size and violence of collisions or erode away sharp peaks-- plus relatively little geologic time in which to do so. Earth One's surface thus was likely one of extremes-- super high and jagged edged mountains, and horrendously deep watery depths (where liquid water existed at all). END NOTE.

...ergo, as the oceans reappeared they tended to cover this smooth surface in a far more unbroken manner than they did before, making Earth Two look more like a Waterworld than Earth One did-- despite the fact Earth Two's total water reserves may be less than what Earth One possessed.

Due to this two-stage liquification of the Earth's crust, no lasting crater results from the Moon-forming collision. Both impacts tend to leave sharp density gradients in the liquid rock at their respective locations, but over time and via geological processes these may dilute out to negligible remnants.

The force waves from each of the two impacts ripple all about the planet at the time.

The strong nagging pull of the newborn Moon, almost within kissing distance of the Earth's surface, helps prolong the time it takes for the crust to cool back into solid form. The Earth's water reserves do their part by raining down upon the molten surface, re-vaporizing, and raining again, over and over, gradually transferring the heat to outer space, until eventually a thin crust has re-formed over much of the planet.

Due to the planet's much smoother new shape, almost the entire planet exists at a suitable altitude to serve as the bottom of a somewhat shallow sea. But the powerful tug of the Moon at this time causes what seawater can remain fluid to slosh about violently in tsunamis-- plus, the liquid rock now comprising all but a thin coating of crust tends to pulsate like tidal waves too, in response to the Moon's gravitational pull-- but lagging behind the seas due to the greater mass molten rock must lug around. Note that the lag in the molten rock would cause it to push upwards in response to the Moon's tug just as the weight of the sea water above it was being reduced, due to the mass of water moving away to follow the Moon's gravity faster than the liquid rock could do. Eventually, in some spots at least, this upward welling of the liquid rock cools and hardens into gently sloping rises and declines about the Earth's middle section, each separated from its nearest neighbor by some distance of sea water expanse. Another factor aiding this process is the least dense types of liquid rock working their way up to float above the rest, and just underneath the crust. This too is aided by the periodic gravitational tug of the Moon as it orbits the planet.

Over time certain oblong regions of the crust have risen sufficiently to break above the ocean's surface, to form prototypical continents.

To accommodate the rise of some equatorial regions above sea level, the extreme northern and southern areas of the Earth have sank a bit (this flattening of the Earth's top and bottom will still be discernable circa 2000 AD). The new equatorial depressions separating the various rolling uplifted land masses now girdling the equator gradually deepen.

However, as the Moon's orbit is taking it ever further from the Earth, thereby weakening its pull, plus the Earth's crust itself is further solidifying, and increasing its resistance to modification via gravity tides, this process comes to an end rather quickly, bowing out to be soon replaced by the Earth's own internal geological forces.

At some point the Earth struggles to break up its new crust to form tectonic plates. The 'humps' of dry continental rock about its middle retard this process, being typically thicker than the rest of the crust. However, eventually some break loose, and begin slowly moving to the south, while others go north-- and not necessarily directly so.

The thinner crust forming the sea floors of both the north and south polar oceans and other underwater lowlands serve as the fodder for the new continental motion, breaking up themselves, sometimes folding up against the forward edge of an advancing continental hump, while in other instances pulling apart to expose molten mantle and liberate volcanoes in the wake of the continents' movements.

The first mountains of Earth Two are formed by sea floor stacking up against the leading edge of continental humps, or from the scraping together of two humps as they pass, sometimes in opposite directions. Multitudes of volcanic peaks also adorn the process. After a few hundred million years the once symmetrical ovoids of the dryland humps have become much more ragged edged, and asymmetrical in appearance; they are beginning to look recognizable as continents.

The motions of the moving continents are also becoming more complex; some now appear to be tumbling end over end as they traverse the surface of the planet, while some are barely moving at all, having found a more stable region in the geological ebb and flow of the planet's internal circulation. Some continents are growing in size, while others are shrinking.

Vertical movement too is taking place, and not just among the dry land continents. The sea floors are rising and falling just like the continents, over time-- though largely all these vertical movements are a way for the planet to balance out internal forces, more than anything else. The process occasionally pulls an entire dryland continent under the sea.

It may also be that the Moon-forming collision or else the tidal effects of the large Moon afterwards (or both) contributed critical extra energies required to either re-melt a portion of the Earth's solidified iron core at impact, or help keep it molten and in possession of active current flows so as to generate a magnetic field which would ultimately help shield life on the surface from killing cosmic and solar radiation.

If the above is true and proves to be a critically important element for the formation of life on any planet, that would appear to severely curtail the probabilities of life arising elsewhere in the galaxy (In my own opinion such events might aid life development, but the appearance of life is not overly dependent on them).

-- LARGE MOON ESSENTIAL TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF LIFE? From Science Frontiers Digest of Scientific Anomalies ["http://www.knowledge.co.uk/frontiers/"] #56, MAR-APR 1988 by William R. Corliss, citing Jeff Hecht; "Lunar Link with Life on Planets," New Scientist, p. 40, January 21, 1988

The same collision which created the Moon may also have altered the tilt of the Earth's axis.

-- One theory solves two ancient climate paradoxes, EurekAlert! ["http://www.eurekalert.org/"] 14 DECEMBER 1999, Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer aem1@psu.edu 814-865-9481 Penn State

The majority of the Earth's continental crust is composed of granite, and that granite appears to have formed in relatively fast episodes lasting no longer than 1000 to 100,000 years at a time. The formations may have occurred catastrophically. Tens of thousands of relatively abrupt subterranean eruptions of granite-forming magma ultimately coalesced into sheets of rock appearing on the surface of the planet and stacking one atop another to form the continents.

The continents began forming around 4,000,000,000 BC.

-- Earth's Continental Land Masses Created In Short, Fast Bursts, Scientists Say ["http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/12/001207140240.htm"], ScienceDaily Magazine, citing University Of Toronto (http://www.utoronto.ca), 12/8/2000, Contact: Janet Wong, (416) 978-6974; jf.wong@utoronto.ca, Alexander Cruden, U of T Department of Geology, (416) 946-7284, cruden@geology.utoronto.ca

Microbial surface life on Earth could thrive for lengthy periods during the Late Heavy Bombardment period of Earth's formation, with their growing periods punctuated perhaps only once every 30 million to 100 million years with impacts severe enough to threaten all microbial life worldwide. And, of course, sub-surface microbial life would have seen dire threats to their global presence even less often.

Keep in mind that microbe-sized life is much more robust than larger, more complex life forms like plants or animals. Cosmic impacts sufficiently large to threaten global microbe populations had to be powerful enough to vaporize the upper layers of the world's oceans, at the very least. During this same period asteroids similar in size to the object which will later wipe out the dinosaurs are striking Earth about once every several 100,000 years-- with most microbes barely taking notice of the events.

Even in the case of the worst events, Earth-based microbes (and the Earth itself) appear to fully recover within only several tens of thousands of years after each.

-- Despite periodic pummeling, conditions on early earth were ripe for life, 15 DECEMBER 2000, EurekAlert!, Contact: Tom Rickey trickey@admin.rochester.edu 716-275-7954 University of Rochester

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Approximately 4,500,000,000 BC- 3,850,000,000 BC: Earth Two suffers a near constant bombardment with asteroids during this period; Regular bouts of Biblical scale flooding and catastrophic tsunamis batter the planet

During some impacts the entire upper layers of the world's oceans are vaporized.

-- Pursuing Life on Two Frontiers: On Earth by R. Monastersky, November 9, 1996, Science News Online, http://www.sciencenews.org

In the aftermath of these global vaporizations much of Earth likely endures biblical scale deluges and floods, as the vaporized seawater returns to the surface in the form of rain. Many of these precipitation events may be nearly global in scope, and last for weeks, maybe even months, as the planet struggles to regain its equilibrium.

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Approximately 4,300,000,000 BC- 3,500,000,000 BC: A possibly warm Mars may be dotted with lakes of liquid water

It appears sedimentary rock may have been forming on Mars between 4.3 billion BC and 3.5 billion BC. Thus, some regions on Mars may have been dotted with lakes of liquid water.

Any potential fossil remains of life from that time may rest within these sedimentary formations.

-- Science report: sedimentary rocks on Mars may suggest an ancient land of lakes, EurekAlert!, Contact: Ginger Pinholster gpinhols@aaas.org 202-326-6421 American Association for the Advancement of Science, 4 DECEMBER 2000 and 8 December 2000 are both post dates associated with this article

-- Wind or volcanic action, like water, may also form sedimentary rock. But indications are Mars' rocks were likely formed by water.

-- Lakes on Mars, Willow Lawson and the Associated Press contributors, Dec. 4, 2000, ABCNEWS.com

-- Sedimentary rock on Mars suggests large, ancient lake beds By Richard Stenger, CNN, December 4, 2000

-- Mars may have once had lakes, scientists say By PAUL RECER, Associated Press/Nando Media, December 4, 2000, http://www.nandotimes.com

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Approximately 3,900,000,000 BC: For perhaps 100 million years around this time, the Earth, Moon, and perhaps other planets as well suffer massive bombardment from space, perhaps due to the recent formation of Neptune and Uranus; Mars may be warmed to such an extent by gases from comet impacts added to its atmosphere that liquid water can exist on its surface

A substantial change may have taken place in Earth's solar system by 3.9 billion BC-- perhaps relating to the planets Neptune and Uranus. Not long after this change, Earth is suffering thousands of cosmic impacts, the majority of which are roughly the same size as the one which will later be responsible for killing off the dinosaurs. And these are not the largest impactors at this time(!)

The Earth's face at times shows craters the size of continents. These are especially easy to see when some of the impacts manage to re-vaporize Earth's oceans again.

On average these awful impacts may be occuring once every 10 thousand years. Apparently early life exists on Earth during this time, surviving unimaginable calamities, over and over again.

Though Earth will later enjoy all sorts of geological and other forces to smooth away or disguise the cratering, Earth's Moon will not. According to Moon samples, it appears this horrendous bombardment of the Earth-Moon system could have lasted for 100 million years.

Other bodies in the solar system seem to have suffered similar impacts during that period.

It may be that the bombardment was a by product of a late-forming Neptune and Uranus. As (or after) the two planets reached completion, their gravity wells could have shifted the orbits of remaining system debris so that it was far more likely to collide with Earth and the other planets than before. In this scenario, the solar system's outermost planet was Saturn for quite some time. Then, over 700 million more years, Neptune and Uranus coalesce from leftover system materials. By that point their gravity wells begin chucking passing comets and maybe other masses into a variety of directions.

Anther event in this model would have been the introduction of lots of carbon dioxide on Mars from cometary impacts. This could have warmed Mars, allowing liquid water to exist on the surface.

Earth's larger mass likely attracted an entire magnitude more impact objects than the Moon (10 times or more).

-- Neptune attacks! by Ivan Semeniuk; New Scientist magazine, 07 April 2001

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Approximately 3,800,000,000 BC: Drops of primordial seawater are perhaps being trapped in the geological strata of Greenland; Living micro-organisms populate Earth's oceans by now, if not before

South-western Greenland will be the oldest geological formation known on Earth in late 1999 AD.

-- Old Arctic Water May Hold Clues to Origin of Life; http://dailynews.yahoo.com; Reuters, Science Headlines, December 16 1999

-- Ancient South African soils point to early terrestrial life, 29 NOVEMBER 2000, EurekAlert!, US Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer, aem1@psu.edu, 814-865-9481, Penn State University Park, Pa, EDITOR: Dr. Ohmoto, ohmoto@geosc.psu.edu

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Approximately 3,800,000,000 BC - 2,500,000,000 BC: 95% of the Earth's surface is covered by water, and the planet may be tilted 70 degrees off vertical

It may be that current levels of greenhouse gases now are only a bit above what late 20th century Earth's will be. The large and lengthy exposure of oceans to solar heating (and water's better capacity for heat retention compared to land) may more than make up for the weaker Sun of this period, making the Earth a very warm place.

The same collision which created the Moon may also have altered the tilt of the Earth's axis.

-- One theory solves two ancient climate paradoxes, EurekAlert! ["http://www.eurekalert.org/"] 14 DECEMBER 1999, Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer aem1@psu.edu 814-865-9481 Penn State

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Approximately 3,500,000,000 BC: The frequency of asteroid and comet impacts on Earth is slowly decreasing at this time; Life may exist on the surface of Mars now...

...as the planet is warm enough to support liquid surface water; a much better environment for life than it will offer later when 20th century humanity views it from afar.

-- Romanian cave contains novel ecosystem By ERIK SKINDRUD, June 29, 1996, Science News Online, http://www.sciencenews.org

This may be Mars' last hurrah, so far as its potential for surface life hosting is concerned. Things may rapidly go downhill from here, as Mars has settled into its new orbit, and the changing circumstances which earlier added heat to its core have ceased. The core is cooling rapidly now, and taking the protective geomagnetic field with it. Mars' original atmosphere is gone already for the most part. However, the planet benefits from a temporary atmospheric replenishment due to the last of the world's major volcanic eruptions now (the volcanoes too are doomed to extinction now that the core is cooling).

Mars' surface atmospheric pressure is 1% that of Earth's. Mars' considerably smaller quantity of geothermal heat than Earth may have left it with little or none of the tectonic plate processes which tend to recycle and replenish the Earth's own atmosphere. Thus, Mars couldn't replenish what was lost to space or trapped in its crust, and its atmosphere dwindled to what is seen today (circa 1999 AD).

At least the above is what scientists thought before they acquired new information through the Mars Global Surveyor program. Now the problem of what happened to Mars' atmosphere appears to be more complex than that described above.

The cosmic bombardment Mars received early in its history may have thrown off a large part of its atmosphere-- perhaps as much as 99 percent. The magnetic component of the solar wind may also have caused a slow trickle drain of the atmosphere into space, over time.

It may be that Mars was able to replenish some of its lost atmosphere from internal reserves after the intial big loss. And Mars seems to have enjoyed its own geomagnetic field too early on, which would have acted as a shield against losses due to the solar wind. But as Mars' internal heat ran down, so did the internal dynamics spawning the magnetic shield-- and the losses to space increased. The failure of the shield came about in Mars' youth-- not recently.

There's a strong possibility that Mars was never warm enough for liquid water in any normal sense; it could be that water only flowed briefly in various locations due to catastrophic cosmic impacts or volcanic eruptions. And those brief moments have been captured forever in the landscape observable in 1999 AD. Long term landshaping could have occured with flowing water underneath protective ice sheets over millennia, with the ice sheets finally collapsing and all the water evaporating or seeping into the crust.

At best Mars might occasionally experience unusual periods of 10,000 years or so at a time of warmer temperatures due to massive outgassing (volcanic eruptions?), along with liquid water. But such brief stints would seem to be very limited in regards to encouraging widespread and complex lifeform development.

Mars' most interesting period may have been its first billion years of existence.

-- Mystery of the missing atmosphere by Oliver Morton, New Scientist issue: 20th November 99 Source: Geo-Marine Letters (vol 18, p 285), New Scientist ["http://www.newscientist.com"] and EurekAlert! ["http://www.eurekalert.org/"]

-- Berkeley Study Of Lunar Cratering History Finds Surprising Increase at Time of Cambrian Explosion ["http://www.lbl.gov/Science-Articles/Archive/lunar-spherule.html"], March 9, 2000; Was Evolution Of Life Advanced By Comet Showers? ["http://unisci.com/stories/20001/0310001.htm"], 10-Mar-2000

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Approximately 3,000,000,000 + BC: The very first intelligent lifeforms in the Universe (and our galaxy) may be emerging now

Unfortunately, these first intelligent species may all be doomed to go extinct or at least suffer severe setbacks in numbers and development time and time again over the next couple billion years or so, due to gamma ray bursters periodically killing all higher life forms on half or more of every life-sustaining planet in their respective galaxies every million to tens of millions of years.

It appears likely that the earliest time civilizations could arise in our galaxy may be now, or the relatively recent past. Factors supporting this include the time necessary for the creation of carbon-- an element essential to life as we know it. The Universe's production of carbon may have reached its maximum only around 6.6 billion BC-- or just two billion years before the formation of our own solar system.

Adding to this the time shown by Earth's own evolution to be required for the development of higher lifeforms makes it appear the earliest that carbon-based intelligence may have evolved would have been around 75% of the Universe's present age-- or maybe 3,000,000,000 BC (this is assuming a 12 billion year age for the Universe).

-- The Oldest Life-Form By Ray Villard, Special to space.com, Sep 20 1999, http://www.space.com/

Gamma ray bursters are massive explosions of radiation rivaling the Big Bang itself in some ways, which may serve to nearly sterilize entire galaxies on a fairly frequent basis. So frequent, in fact, that all by itself the phenomenon may have served to keep the evolution of intelligence 'bottled up' in the Milky Way throughout its entire history-- until only recently. Gamma ray burster frequency seems to have decreased the last few hundred million years or so, making it safe for certain apes on Earth to start talking to one another and crafting tools to make their lives better. For further details see below:

Over the past five years alone 1700 inexplicable bursts of gamma rays have been detected from the void.......These mysterious bursts come from all around us, in every direction-- but they are usually extremely distant; a billion or more light years away; perhaps even outside our galaxy. Space Today and the Washington Post, on or about 12-18-96

6-1-98 Newz&Viewz: A mind boggling explosion 12 billion years ago rivaled the Big Bang itself in power

I wrote here months ago (maybe years) that it seemed to me the huge explosions producing the gamma ray bursts seemed potentially dangerous to possibly the entire galaxy that happened to host one-- only now am I starting to see mainstream articles noting this danger as well-- like the one cited at the end of this newz item.

Unfortunately, it appears sooner or later we WILL have a possibly fatal gamma ray burst nearby, that could kill off or severely damage all life on Earth (but for certain microbes).

But couldn't we protect ourselves somehow, like we might against an asteroid? Well, if a burster occured within 3000 lightyears of us, the only potentially safe places would be a quarter-mile or so underwater or underground-- YIKES! Even worse, we might get even less warning about a burster than we might about a dangerous comet or asteroid-- indeed, the radiation could have begun falling on us when you began reading this article, and many of us would already be fatally poisoned before our scientists realized what was happening....

But if we did have super refuges deep underground/undersea to protect us, how long might we have to stay there before we could return to the surface? Only "...many millions of years..."-- or until we learned how to turn ourselves into wholly inorganic machines which were impervious to the killing radiation.

Obviously, if such a near burster's radiation reached us any time before maybe 2600 AD, we'd be goners-- extinct.

Luckily, the stats so far suggest near bursters happen only about once every 100 million years on average-- so we might have a few million years breathing space (or not). -- "Recently Discovered Cosmic Blast May Be Biggest Since Big Bang" by MALCOLM W. BROWNE, 5-7-98, The New York Times

3-6-99 Newz&Viewz [edited]: The Fermi Paradox Resolved?

The Fermi Paradox basically asks "where are all the aliens"?

Well, just maybe the answer is natural cataclysms which have been sweeping the entire galaxy clean of higher life forms every few million years up until recently.

I'm talking gamma ray bursters here folks. Those mighty galaxy-shaking explosions that have been mystifying scientists now for about 30 years. Long-time readers might remember me writing here maybe a couple years ago that these enormous explosions and gamma radiation baths might be terrible news for the inhabitants of whatever galaxy where they occured. Now mainstream researchers are starting to say the same thing in their papers.

The gist is that these awful radiation bursts may have been occuring just often enough to stop the development of potential star farers in their tracks, throughout all of the history of the universe so far.

Apparently the only adequate protective measure for land-lubbers is being on the shadowed side of a planet when such a radiation bath occurs. Only life sheltered by many tons of seawater might survive on the gamma lit side.

Luckily most bursts won't usually last very long, so an entire planetary hemisphere (the shadowed half) worth of land-based life might escape more or less intact in many cases. But of course then the biosphere has to cope with half a dead planet; an entire hemisphere of dead and rotting corpses, of both plant and animal matter, and likely much dead in shallow sea waters as well. Imagine the awesome forest fires where entire continents of deadwood are set ablaze by lightning storms for decades afterwards. The smoke from these fires might create a brief global nuclear winter type condition, leading to even more death. It's likely a world would lose 30-50% of its total species in the event (since many species exist only locally, and half a world would be killed). And the rampage of disease...! It's a pretty good bet that the planet's climate would be changed significantly for centuries, maybe millennia, after the event. And the overall biosphere? At best it might only be set back by some 5 to 50 million years or so.

But there's still more to consider. In our own case, for millions of years, humanity's predecessors existed on a single continent on one side of the planet: Africa. If that side of the Earth had been fried by gamma rays during that time, present-day humanity likely wouldn't exist at all.

Similar 'dead-ends' in the evolution of intelligent life galaxy-wide could also have happened over the past several billion years. And remember that a single gamma ray burst severely damages the entire galaxy all at once in this fashion. So hundreds or even thousands of potential sentient races could have been wiped out or set back by a single burst at any time during the past.

And apparently there's been not merely one gamma burst over that time, but possibly hundreds or thousands, and possibly with a frequency of one every few million years in the earlier history of our galaxy.

So the great majority of potential intelligent races in our galaxy have almost certainly been killed off or at least severely stunted in development during much of past galactic history.

Now though, finally, the frequency of gamma bursters looks to be decreasing, and thereby giving folks like us a chance to actually crawl out of the muck and into space in a significant way, before we get wiped off the map.

And not only us, but perhaps many other races throughout the galaxy too.

It could well be that the gamma ray bursters have forced many intelligent races throughout the galaxy to begin reaching for the stars all more at less around the same time.

Yes, we're talking the parallel, roughly equivalent development technologically of at least dozens to hundreds of different civilizations now, in something similar to how the Terrans, Vulcans, Romulans, and Klingons seem to have developed in the Star Trek TV series, where none (or few) have a truly decisive headstart over the others.

Yet another implication of all this though would seem to be that sea-based intelligence (which might enjoy better wholesale protection from gamma bursters), might have enjoyed a vastly greater continuity of evolution and technological development than land-based civilizations like our own during the onslaught. In extreme scenarios of virtually 100% ocean worlds, where intelligent squids or something similar lived typically fairly deep in the seas, the core civilizations might have been damaged very little if at all-- with only outposts on land, orbiting stations, and spacecraft/aircraft in transit suffering casualties from any burster in passing.

So the most advanced civilizations in the galaxy might turn out to appear pretty darn alien to us after all, if we ever encounter them.

-- "Cataclysmic Explosions May Have Held Up Alien Visitors", Author: Robert Matthews, New Scientist magazine issue 23rd Jan 99

What if heavier elements (like carbon) were created too during the big bang, rather than merely lighter elements? Present knowledge makes this appear unlikely. But if they were, and sufficient amounts were produced, then carbon-based life could have developed much earlier in the Universe's history than science has so far supposed.

-- Getting heavy by Robert Adler, From New Scientist, 11 December 1999

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