(originally posted 9/30/2017)
Consider this a public service. Not so much telling you how water came to be on Earth but reminding you that at one point Earth was just a smoldering hunk of rocks and dust slowly pulled together by gravity.
It would be especially helpful if you were reading this at the beach but since you insist on not being at a beach you’ll just have to remind yourself of the awe-inspiring feeling of gazing out at an ocean. That feeling will make you feel much better about not being able to understand the math and science involved in explaining how water ended up here.
Water, literally the wettest stuff in the Universe, only exists to begin with because the necessary molecule H2O was formed in the center of the hottest place you can imagine; the center of a sun. I don’t think all the scientists and mathematicians in the Universe could explain to you whether that is irony or drama. I know none of them could honestly make you understand how a chunk of molten rock hanging in space with a high ambient temperature and no enveloping atmosphere could end up covered by over 70% water.
So far you might have noticed how condescending I’ve been to your intelligence. I believe no less than three times I’ve mentioned that there is no way you could understand something. I hope you don’t hold it against me. I’m just being honest. In the end, this fact may make my ending all that more poignant but I’ll certainly understand if you go storming off to find other reading material that isn’t so demeaning to your IQ.
Here is something you are certain to appreciate, pandering a little I admit but I want happy readers, even the greatest minds on the planet are a little unsure how all the water got here. There are a few theories but all of them include two basic elements: water that was here originally and water that came from other sources. Things from within and things externally added.
If you are starting to feel like there is a point to all of this I must congratulate you on your unbridled optimism.
When it came time to mention those things that were contributed by ‘space’ I wrestled with decision to say carbonaceous chondrites instead of meteorites. Obviously I want you to think I’m a brilliant guy and throwing in a little carbonaceous chondrites certainly gives you that impression but I also didn’t want you to feel any worse than you already do about your IQ and nothing inspires feelings of inadequacy like having to read carbonaceous chondrites and having no idea what they are. Had I just come right out and said meteorites you would probably have smiled broadly, secure in the knowledge that you exactly what a meteorite is.
If you are starting to feel like there is no point to all of this I must congratulate you on your unbridled perceptiveness.
But let me just say this in my defense … you neither as bright or dumb as you think you are. You are only as perceptive as you want to be.
Case in point, all of the rocks that probably sat bemused as the first drops of rain started to come down. Could they have ever imagined what those little wet spots would create?
Of course not, they’re rocks. They lack not only imagination but any consciousness at all. But, BUT, even they would have to admit, if they could, how much nicer our planet looks than the moon. You can almost hear the muttering to themselves “Canyons carved out by rivers are a nice touch.” This is in no way disrespectful to wind and volcanic eruptions obviously.
The point is, the one you’ve been anxiously waiting for, we all come out of the womb as barren hunks of rock and dust. Whatever we have within us or whatever forces act upon us from the outside, there is no way of knowing exactly how spectacular we can end up. No one can explain your transformation from lifeless and bleak to towering redwoods filled with adorable squirrels.
I should mention how much cooler this ending would be if you were sitting by the ocean.