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The Moon As A Stabilizing Influence August 18, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Life Balance, Nature.
36 comments

The moon, a happy accident which occurred 4.5 billion years ago, acts as our tidal stabilizer, keeping Earth on an even keel so we don’t wobble about.

Without the moon, our life-affirming atmosphere would no longer exist.

Wikipedia ~ Moon (in Public Domain)

Without an atmosphere conducive to height and flight, basketball players would cease to exist.  Man would be bound to the ground:

Scientists estimate that without the tides, the earth would spin about three to four times faster than it does. And that would have big implications on its life forms. First, winds on earth would be so fast and powerful that few things could grow.

And any land animals that existed on such a planet would be all short, squat and stout. Birds and any flying insects would be impossible.

Without the Moon, Life on Earth would be much Different (Deseret News).

Our blue planet derives its Stable Axial Tilt and a diverse range of climatic zones courtesy of La Bella Luna:

It is considered likely by many authors that the current circa 23.5 degree tilt of the Earth’s axis of rotation is a relic of the oblique collision that produced the Moon. Furthermore it is argued that the presence of the orbiting Moon has, through a large part of geological time, stabilised this axial tilt or obliquity of the Earth. This has had important ramifications for life on the Earth as major and frequent shifts in this obliquity would have led to significant and rapid changes in the Earth’s climate due to changes in insolation values at the poles and equator. [ . . . ]

The current relatively moderate axial tilt of the Earth ensures that the difference in heating between the poles and equator is sufficient to promote a healthy and diverse range of climatic zones without veering from one extreme to another (e.g. Snowball Earth hypothesis). [ . . .] This helped set the stage for the rise of the mammals, including Man.

How Earth and the Moon Interact (Astronomy Today).

The moon keeps us seated firmly in the saddle so we don’t wobble about the vast reaches of space:

When the Earth rotates it wobbles slightly back and forth on its axis. It’s like a top, which doesn’t simply spin in a vertical position on a table or the floor. But without the Moon we’d be wobbling much more.

“The relevant link between spin and orbit is very complicated, but in a simplified version you could think of it as being like an Olympic athlete in the hammer throw event,” says Terje Wahl, deputy director general of the Department of Space and Earth Sciences at the Norwegian Space Centre.

Wikipedia ~ Hammer Throw (in Public Domain)

“When a hammer thrower spins around before letting go he could nearly be rotating on a pinpoint. But as soon as he releases the hammer he takes a couple of awkward steps and flails his arms to keep from falling down,” Wahl explains.

While there are some differences between the Earth-Moon system and the hammer thrower, one being that the hammer and the hammer thrower spin at the same speed, whereas the Earth and Moon don’t, the result is the same:

The Moon keeps the Earth from wobbling violently as it spins.

What Would We Do Without The Moon (ScienceNordic).

Best of all, our beautiful moon brightens up the night scape and skies . . . inspiring artists, astronauts, movie makers, songwriters, and soul searchers to dream big and reach for the stars.

Aah . . . that’s better!