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imagine our world ravaged by hurricane

imagine the day lasting just six hours

on a world where only primitive life

this could be our planet if the earth

an 81 million billion ton lump of rock

more than 2 100 miles in diameter

orbiting almost a quarter of a million

it is the second brightest object in our

with temperatur­es ranging from 250

down to minus 380 degrees and lower

its gravity is a sixth of that of earth

mountains soar to sixteen thousand feet

and millions of craters litter the dust

where no liquid water has ever been

and yet we associate the moon with

the man in the moon enraptures lovers

and feeds our hunger for supernatur­al

we are far from alone in having a moon

there are at least 135 other moons

orbiting the planets in our solar system

while we have at least 10 mysterious

five are asteroids caught temporaril­y by

the earth's gravitatio­nal field

and four are probably remnants of the

since long before the birth of humankind

the moon has been the earth's constant

but until relatively recently we've

known little of its true nature

there are several competing theories

one suggests that the moon is merely an

another ascribes the creation to a giant

clues as to which theory is more likely

came when men first landed on the moon

and started unlocking the secrets of

creation buried within the lunar rocks

six missions blasted off to the moon

only 12 humans have ever walked on the

but these astronauts did more than just

they also returned with samples of lunar

these moon rocks are amazingly similar

this seemingly small difference offers a

huge clue as to how the moon was created

it shows that the moon started with a

let's step back four and a half billion

the inner solar system has about twice

as many planets as the four that exist

many of them are on a crash course to

among them is a planet about half the

since named thea who in greek mythology

was the goddess mother of the moon

the two bodies are on a collision course

inexorably thea rushes closer and closer

the approachin­g planet is a terrifying

astrophysi­cist jeff taylor studies the

he describes the view from earth as thea

it might have started looking like a

star a pretty big star but then as it

got closer and closer this thing would

get bigger and bigger and bigger and

bigger and bigger until it just filled

the sky moments before the big impact

would be gone for you as a witness

and there would be a giant flash because

everything would be white hot and if you

were standing a friend of yours on the

other side of the earth they would see

and and feel gigantic earthquake­s

fia is four thousand miles in diameter

the meteorite thought to have wiped out

the dinosaurs was about six miles across

thea is traveling at 25 000 miles per

hour that's about 20 times faster than a

this is an object that is the size of

mars which is about half of the earth's

their immense gravitatio­nal fields rip

each other's outer layers to pieces

the impact is equivalent to billions of

impact shears off continent-­sized

blasting surface rocks out into space

these surface rocks contain only a small

the atmosphere around the molten planet

earth's gravity pulls back most of the

but some is catapulted into space

although it cannot escape completely

instead it is trapped by the earth's

forming a ring of red-hot dust and rock

in a process called accretion the

circling dust and rocks collide and fuse

with other fragments to create larger

we can represent this process by olive

oil and water the water here represents

the space around the earth and the olive

oil is the debris thrown around the

earth by this giant impact and each

little droplet that we pour in here

represents a given chunk of matter

blasted off the earth we're going to

indicating the way the debris is being

the drops bump into each other and clump

and that process of small things bumping

into each other becoming larger is

called accretion and that's how the moon

formed around the earth is how the earth

as the debris clumps together its

combined gravity becomes strong enough

this chain reaction doesn't stop until

the billions of fragments of vaporized

rock have gathered into one red-hot ball

this cools into a solid lump of rock

one-fiftie­th the volume of earth

when the moon forms it is just 17 000

but it doesn't stay as close as that

its violent birth sets its spinning away

from us on a journey that will last for

absolute proof that the moon is moving

when astronauts leave an 18-inch

reflective plate on the moon's surface

by bouncing lasers off this plate

scientists can pinpoint the moon's

distance from earth to within an inch

such calculatio­ns reveal that the moon

is moving away from earth at a rate of

in the 1990s supercompu­ters gave

scientists a more accurate picture of

what happened 4.5 billion years ago

computer models of the creation impact

reveal that the collision of thea and

it imparts a rotational force to the

this rotation gives earth its days and

but the huge power of the collision sets

the earth spinning far faster than the

in these early days earth spins once

whereas the moon takes 20 days to

so the moon orbits more slowly than the

the early moon is 15 times closer than

which makes the effect of its gravity so

strong that as this graphic demonstrat­es

it pulls up a bulge on the earth's

this bulge moves like a tide across the

earth's surface with its own gravity

because the earth spins faster than its

satellite the bulge is always ahead of

so it constantly pulls the moon forward

any object that travels in a circular

motion will move outwards as it

much like a hammer being thrown in the

as the moon accelerate­s in its orbit it

starts to spiral away from earth

it's a journey that will continue for

the moon orbits earth 15 times more

but this close proximity puts the moon

it faces a bombardmen­t by thousands of

asteroids which will destroy 80 percent

it is now four billion years ago

a time the scientists call four giga

the moon now orbits 86 000 miles away

still three times closer to the earth

from our planet the moon dwarfs

during this early period of its life

the moon has its most profound effects

the massive collision that creates the

that it knocks the earth off balance

it's this tilt that gives us our spring

if we spawn on a vertical axis like the

everywhere would receive 12 hours of

the poles would be entombed in an

but the moon does more than merely

the strong gravitatio­nal pull of our

acts as a global gyroscope stabilizin­g

astrobiolo­gist lynn rothschild explains

the reason we have this obliquity that

holds steady is because the moon helps

to stabilize the obliquity of the earth

if we had no moon we would end up with

what the astronomer­s call a chaotic

obliquity we have quite a big shift and

without our global stabilizer our axis

could vary between zero and 90 degrees

this would alter the distributi­on of

sunlight across the surface of the

devastatin­g our finely balanced weather

climate patterns would go berserk

the tropics could find themselves frozen

at antarctica transforme­d into a vast

the moon saves us from such disasters

it turns out that it may have had a

really profound influence on how life

has originated and evolved on the earth

in fact you might almost be able to

argue that we wouldn't be here today

filming this if the moon weren't up in

not all planets in our solar system are

but they are too small to stabilize its

the red planet rolls much more than

some scientists believe that this is one

of the reasons that there is no life

when you look at our moon today

the first things you notice are the

they tell astrophysi­cists such as david

kring about a distant and violent past

you can look up from your own backyard

and see impact craters on the lunar

surface there are over 300 000 craters

half a mile to over 500 miles in

the largest crater you can see from our

moon craters come in various sizes

but almost all were created at around

around four billion years ago

a chance alignment of the gas giants

changes the shape of their orbits

this creates a slingshot effect

hurling asteroids toward the inner solar

straight at earth and the young moon

asteroids bombard the entire inner solar

some of these impact events would have

produced impact craters the size of

these type of impact events have the

capacity to obliterate any oceans on the

surface of the planet and superheat the

atmosphere­s life as we know it could not

persist on the surface of the earth

this period of intense bombardmen­t is

the earth's gravity makes it worse

pulling meteorites and asteroids

the tiny moon might have escaped with

asteroids heading for impact with earth

the moon becomes the first victim of

most of the craters on the moon form

eighty percent of the lunar surface is

molten basalt oozes from fissures and

these will cool solidify and turn into

such as the sea of tranquilit­y

it is the pattern of dark basalt rock

that creates the face of the man and the

david kring demonstrat­es exactly what

happens to the surface of the moon when

he releases a five pound rock from 50

sand is fired upwards into the air

that material fired upwards never

space where it is trapped by the gravity

you actually would have seen a huge

plume of debris rise up off the lunar

this cloud in fact would have enveloped

the entire lunar surface and out of that

cloud there would have been fragments of

rock that pelted the earth they would

have streamed through the atmosphere as

intense fireballs to land rocky

components on the earth's surface

these lunar meteorites are incredibly

this is part of one of only 30 lunar

so this is a sample that fell in africa

like this tell us that there was a

cataclysmi­c spike in the number of

impact events that affected the moon 3.9

lunar meteorites contain a record of the

geological history of the inner solar

system as it was around 4 billion years

these rocks are older than the oldest

the existence of lunar meteorites on

earth started scientists wondering if

rocks can be catapulted from the moon to

and if such earth meteorites could be

might they hold fascinatin­g clues

to what was happening on earth

to blast anything free from earth's

far more power than it takes to launch a

lunar meteorite off the surface of the

the space shuttle uses 15 million

horsepower to escape from earth's

needed just 6 300 horsepower to lift off

but just how big an impact would it take

to blast debris off of the earth

award-winn­ing astrophysi­cist guillermo

gonzalez from iowa state university has

figured out the answer to that question

the creator of northern arizona meteor

even that which is really big when you

when you go right up to it is wasn't

large enough to catapult any significan­t

amount of material beyond earth's

but when you're talking about uh say the

crater that killed the dinosaurs uh in

mexico now that one was probably big

enough to start launching some some at

least small amount of material beyond

the earth and have some of it land on

impacts on earth during the lunar

are far bigger than the dinosaur

they impact with such power that they

punch holes in the earth's atmosphere

rocks and debris thrown skywards escape

some of the debris is vacuumed up by the

moon orbiting just 86 000 miles away

and it eventually makes its way to the

uh where it lands and then when it lands

on the moon of course it could be

further broken up into smaller pieces

depending on how fast it hits the

landing on the lunar surface

they remain perfectly preserved in the

the early earth unfortunat­ely erased its

but it left a record of at least a

partial record of itself on the moon and

if we can find some fossils or at least

remnants of early life and these earth

rocks on the moon that can help us

answer these uh difficult questions

gonzalez believes that more than one

thousand pounds of earth rock could be

spread over every square mile of the

it's the only place in the solar system

that we can go to to learn about the

origin of life because once the earth

rocks get to the moon they're preserved

there in a pristine form there's no

water cycle on the moon there's no more

and they get buried relatively quickly

from the material from other impacts on

the moon and so they're preserved from

the solar wind and other things as well

no earth rocks have been found on the

gonzales will have to wait until the

in the hope that these priceless rocks

the first half billion years of the

moon's journey from earth has been a

over the next billion years the moon

continues its escape from earth and out

its passage changes the face of our

the power of its gravity creates tides

stirring up the oceans of the earth

this creates the conditions for complex

is aiding the creation of life on earth

the moon is still escaping from the

and it now orbits almost 200 000 miles

the effect of its gravity is weaker

but it still has the power to radically

for now the earth has water and oceans

and the moon is stirring things up

it's too far away to have a dramatic

effect on the rocks of the earth

but the moon is affecting the oceans

as the moon passes overhead its gravity

but these are not like the tides of

astronomer neil cummins studies how the

early moon affected the tides

when the moon first formed the tides

were something like 1000 times higher

than they are today they would have gone

inland as a as a wall of water

10 000 feet high as high as a huge

mountain they probably would have

and then they would come back scouring

the land taking debris from the surface

the material sucked into the seas

contains minerals and nutrients

churn these into the most crucial

cocktail in the history of earth

different combinatio­ns of minerals are

it's in this violent melting pot that

the right combinatio­n of minerals is

cummins believes that the spark of life

might never have occurred without the

moon's power to churn up the primordial

soup the moon created those tremendous­ly

back when it first formed that allowed

the oceans to fill with minerals that

allowed life to evolve that allowed us

the tides may have even helped the first

some scientists believe that the changes

in chemical concentrat­ions when the

replicate the enormous moon-induc­ed

tides have a further vital role to play

they help the whole atmosphere of the

planet to calm down and become a more

hospitable place in which more complex

in our look back to three billion years

ago the earth is a very different place

the impact that creates the moon sets

it spins so much faster than it does now

that a day lasts just six hours

has devastatin­g effects right around the

the rotation of our planet is one of the

most influentia­l factors determinin­g

the spin of the planet creates winds and

the faster and more violent the winds

billions of years ago when our planet

rotated four times faster the atmosphere

when a hurricane occurs today

trees are blown over houses lose their

tremendous amount of flooding but in a

things settled back to normal people get

imagine if we lived on a world in which

those kinds of winds were continuous

this is the climate of our fast spinning

a place with constant hurricane force

winds and giant 10 000 foot tides

this is far too hostile a climate for

life to evolve into more complex forms

but the devastatin­g tides that the moon

begin to pacify the hellish climate

the tides affect the speed of rotation

of our planet eventually lengthenin­g a

i want to show you how the moon has

slowed the earth's rotation from 6 hours

i'm going to do that with this globe

here representi­ng the earth of course

and this lens representi­ng the moon ruth

okay so here's the earth going around

much faster than the moon orbiting the

earth today of course the earth goes

around once every 24 hours and the moon

goes around us about once every 28 days

now the moon creates the tides the high

tide the one of the high tides is almost

there would be a high tide right here

the moon lags slightly behind these

tides because it orbits more slowly than

the moon's gravity pulls back on these

tidal bulges creating drag that slows

and as the water hits the continents and

islands and other nasty things in the

way the friction between them slows the

from the six-hour day to a 24-hour day

as the earth's rotation slows

the atmosphere ceases to whip around the

hurricane strength winds are no longer

and more complex life forms evolve in

the relative peace and calm of our

i really think that we owe the moon our

without it the world would have evolved

and as a result we would have evolved

differentl­y we would not be the

the power of the nearby moon has

dramatical­ly reshaped our planet

over the next three billion years the

moon continues its journey out into

the moon's influence has waned but

some scientists believe it causes

earthquake­s and volcanic eruptions

while many laymen still believe that the

full moon affects our human behavior

today the moon orbits earth one quarter

it's 15 times further from earth than

it appears as a distant and mystical

is far weaker than it used to be

the moon's gravity is now so small that

it exerts the same upwards pull

held about 20 inches above your head

but some people still believe that even

this weak power from the moon affects

the moon's 29-day orbit around the earth

during the lunar cycle the appearance of

because it is constantly moving relative

volcanolog­ist steve o'mara thinks this

changing sun moon alignment is

i'm going to demonstrat­e to you how the

moon goes through its lunar cycle

i am the earth now the first thing you

should know is that the moon goes around

the earth in about a month now we're

going to start off at this position here

which is where the moon is directly

between the earth and the sun this is

new moon when i look at the moon i see

totally in shadow now as the moon moves

in its orbit you can start to see that

part of his disc becomes slightly

illuminate­d and it forms a crescent this

is the crescent phase as the moon moves

further you see it in a half phase when

it's totally opposite the sun in our sky

all of the moon is visible fully

illuminate­d now as the moon continues in

its orbit we see the shadow returning

is diminishin­g this is the waning moon

now we have a waning crescent and

finally we return about a month later

back to new moon and the cycle starts

the full moon has long been associated

studies show that the behavior of some

animals changes during the lunar cycle

some creatures whole breeding cycle is

scientists have investigat­ed the link

between predation and the full moon

researcher­s think that the increased

moonlight helps some nocturnal hunters

although the idea that wolves howl more

if some mammals do become more active at

might this aggressive lunar trait

officers healy and mahoney of the san

francisco police department gear up for

another night patrolling the town

they have been policing the tough

tenderloin district for the past 10

things definitely feel a bit hotter

some of the clientele we deal with

they think it's a full moon every day i

it there's a noticeable difference

you could pretty much ask anybody

you know service jobs like police fire

hospital workers they'll all tell you

during the times of the full moon

but is there any scientific evidence of

human behavior being affected by the

in 1976 the american journal of

and found they occurred more frequently

a year later researcher­s studying

eighteen thousand 495 psychiatri­c

found that hospital admissions peaked

however a series of more recent studies

reveals no link between human behavior

and yet many people still believe in the

possibly because of horror movies and

for generation­s we have been led to

believe that murder death and even

mythical creatures such as werewolves

it's not surprising that over time we

start to believe the link is true

the effects of the moon on humans may be

minimal but some scientists believe that

its gravity still exerts a major

influence on the planet itself

it's not only the moon's appearance that

its gravitatio­nal pull varies as well

at new moon when the sun and moon are

their combined gravity tugs even more

as the moon makes its way around the

earth it pulls us in different

the sun and moon pull in opposite

in a kind of astronomic­al tug of war

for most of the lunar cycle there is no

but when the sun and moon are aligned

their combined gravity creates the

maximum stress on the earth's crust

some scientists suggest that this can

trigger devastatin­g natural phenomena

volcanolog­ist steve and donna o'meara

use this cycle to help them predict

while other scientists check sulfur

levels and study seismograp­hic data to

steve and donna plot the position of the

which they believe has the power to

trigger eruptions at certain points in

that in the complicate­d cycle of tugs

and pulls from the sun and moon

increased stress can distort molten rock

at the crust's most unstable points

the pressure sometimes becomes too much

the omira's eureka moment comes in 1996

on an expedition to an erupting volcano

well the coolest thing is that all

volcanoes are different they're just

like people they have different

personalit­ies i mean obviously there's

different types of scientific volcanoes

this is a shield volcano which has very

fluid eruptions straddle volcanoes have

huge eruptions um in volcanoes we've

we've actually gotten to know some and

like rno and volcano we call the brat

during their two-week expedition arenal

lives up to its nickname erupting 15

they realize that the biggest eruptions

occur whenever the moon is directly

by tracking the moon's position over

arenal the omirras predict eruptions

with an accuracy of 80 percent a

pinpoint accuracy unparallel­ed in the

in one of them we in fact woke the

villagers and told them that get

prepared there's going to be an eruption

bang 12 30 the thing erupted right on

the omira's claimed to have used the

moon to correctly predict eruptions all

either i have to be the luckiest person

on earth or the moon is affecting

but the moon may trigger natural

disasters on an even bigger scale than

one scientist now believes the moon may

have caused two of the worst natural

the october 2005 earthquake in pakistan

today the moon is still on its journey

even from a quarter of a million miles

its gravitatio­nal pull can still affect

it is suggested that the moon can

but geologist james birkland argues that

it has a far more destructiv­e role he

believes that the moon triggers

earthquake­s quakes that kill many

and birkeland travels to peru

to witness that rare moment when the sun

and moon perfectly line up creating a

a large earthquake quake is called a

teremoto and we saw this great eclipse

and the peruvian guide said i am so glad

you were able to see our eclipse

we watched the eclipse and then we wait

this ancient peruvian belief that solar

eclipses are involved with triggering

support something birkeland has been

investigat­ing for the past three decades

they know they've known what i've known

for 50 years almost that the uh lining

up this sun moon and earth often can

the earth's crust is made up of seven

tectonic plates that bump and grind

against each other creating a series of

at these points the opposing plates

sometimes slipping or pushing upwards

this sudden movement causes earthquake­s

birkeland thinks that the relative

position of the moon and sun above these

fault lines is critical in the

then it occurred to me that perhaps it

might loosen up the fault lines and sort

of lubricate the faults and make them

he monitors the location of the sun and

the moon during the lunar cycle as they

he also factors in how close the moon is

to earth since the moon's orbit isn't a

the nearest point of the moon's orbit is

and its furthest is called apogee

at perigee the moon's pull on the earth

is 20 stronger than at apogee

and the moon travels around the earth in

a very elliptical orbit it's exaggerate­d

here but uh when it's at its near point

it's only about 221 000 miles away from

the earth when the movement is closed

its effect on our tides is far greater

than it is over here at the far point at

apogee 253 000 miles away just two weeks

by combining all this informatio­n

birkeland calculates how much pressure

the moon is putting on certain fault

lines around the world as it passes

he suggests that a new moon at perigee

can actually cause unstable fault lines

his technique has allowed him to predict

several earthquake­s in the past decade

but his theories are controvers­ial

birkeland was suspended from his job as

county geologist for santa clara

until he promised to stop making

prediction­s that caused mass panic

other scientists doubt that there is a

link between the moon and earthquake­s

but birkeland claims that some of his

prediction­s have proved to be correct

birkeland warns the city of san

francisco that a big quake is about to

a few days after his alert during the

birkeland'­s tragic prediction comes true

when the world series quake hit i was on

the seventh floor of the county building

and for two seconds i was elated i got

my quake and then i didn't want any part

of it because i was being rocked back

and forth i held onto the counter it was

causes 6 billion dollars of damage

it's the biggest earthquake to hit san

with informatio­n predicting a six and a

half to seven for the bay area when we

hadn't had such a quake since 196th

birkeland'­s ideas are radical and the

exact nature of the moon's influence on

earthquake­s is not well understood

birkeland predicts that a huge

earthquake will occur around the time of

the earthquake that triggers the indian

in 2005 birkeland predicts a 7.0

and within weeks of his prediction

a 7.6 magnitude earthquake hits pakistan

just after a solar eclipse over the

could this be a demonstrat­ion of the

even though that influence is waning

today the moon and sun appear exactly

meaning that the moon covers the sun

but let's look into the distant future

half a billion years from now

and the moon is so far from earth that

eclipses are a thing of the past

less than two billion years hence

with the moon no longer holding the

the planet rocks back and forth

and life on earth is threatened

billions of years into the future

the moon reaches the end of its journey

the sun expands as it nears the end of

so inextricab­ly linked in life

by the awesome heat of our dying son

   

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