Diving into the origins of Water
This article Diving into the origins of Water was originally an integral part of the parent article "Why are we here?", but given the fact the parent article was growing extremely huge, I decided for the sake of simplicity to have the section "Diving into the origins of Water" on a separate thread for simplicity and easy reading. See below the summary of the main article "Why are we here?" and the location of Diving into the origins of Water, in section 2 article 2. I recommend and encourage you to read all these articles in order (after all, they follow the chronological order of our creation) so that you get the whole picture of really why are we here
Section 1, our star the Sun, without it nothing will be possible
- The Primeval Atom
- The grapefruit fluctuations at quantum level
- The inflation period
- Floating in the magic of hydrogen
- The Helios nebula
Section 2, the perfect position of planet Earth in the Universe, and the chain of random accidents that caused your existence
- The kiss of planet Theia
- Diving into the origins of Water
- The spark of Life
- Jupiter, the Great Benefactor
- In the wrong side of the Congo
Section 3, the abstract of your thoughts and the illusion of control
- Ancient Civilizations, our roots
- Language and Mathematics, the building blocks of humankind
- Religion and believes, the intangible reality
- Our brains, the biggest mystery
2. Diving into the origins of Water - from 4.5 billion years to 500 million years ago
Where did all the water of our planet comes from? If I believed that finding an answer to the question "Why are we here?" was a challenge, it turns out that discovering an explanation to the origin of the water is even a bigger endeavour. Okay, you might say, who cares about why we are here, anyway? After all, this is a kind of metaphysical question for which every person will has an answer, so trying to 'fix' an answer for such erratic bubbling question is pretty absurd and a complete waste of time. I take that, but... for the question of where all the water of our planet comes from... that is something really different. We need to know where all this water comes from, end of the question. Water is a tangible object, our bodies are made of it and therefore our civilisation depends of it, so we really need to understand how the liquid element came to manifest in such quantities into the surface of our planet. If we want to ensure the survival of both our bodies and our civilisation, we need to know the answer to the origin of water with absolute certainty
Water molecules are simple: H2O, two atoms of hydrogen (the most common element of the Universe, formed after the Big Bang) and one atom of Oxygen that glues them two, forming an angle of 104.5 degrees. Oxygen, the third most abundant element in the Universe after hydrogen and helium, was forged inside the first generation of stars, then spread across the galaxy by supernovas. Yet, it seems small organisms can release oxygen by breaking down the water molecules (and I always wondered, where does the Hydrogen goes when the Oxygen is released by the plants/organism?). Life behaves like a supernova at the time of generating by-products, like Oxygen in Nucleosynthesis or Oxygen in Photosynthesis. Obviously, the water on Earth was formed by the "oxygen" that was left over after supernovas and that interacted with Hydrogen in the space to form water molecules. I can't really understand how water molecules are form out of the nothing up there in space, do they just bump on one another and decide to form a molecule? The oxygen that you now breath was released by small organisms million of years ago, trees and plants too and mostly by the oceans of nowadays, that oxygen was not produced inside a star. It is just not possible that the oxygen on the water was created by organisms, as they need the water to be there in the first place in order to exist. And what are the circumstances by which an Oxygen atom can join to two Hydrogen counterparts to form water? Gravity bounding pressure? And... is the oxygen in the water (the one created by supernovas) exactly the same as the oxygen in the air (the one released by nature) that we breath? So, if I got it right, we can just pump hydrogen and oxygen into the vacuum of space... and eventually water molecules will form our of those two? hello?
Water is a very, very, very... VERY....very special thing, it has the properties of cohesion, adhesion, a high specific heat, surface tension and polarity. Have a look at this amazing video below, and the lovely lady doing the presentation (I love the orchids background!), she explains you all these properties in more detail. To all of these properties, I'd like to add reflection: water does reflect light and that is yet another key component that plays a role at the time of supporting Life. The thing that amaze me the most is how water behaves when it is on its solid form: ice. It floats above its liquid state. Yes, ice floats over water, though this only happens on Light Water, and not Heavy Water. This is a unique property of the electrically charged molecules, and the 104.5 degrees that joins then to others, making the ice less dense than liquid water. Normally any substance on its solid form will sink when presented to the same substance on its liquid state, but that's not the case with water. This property, among the many others it has, creates a shields of ice over the liquid water below that protects any chemical reactions that may occur underneath the ice, thus truly supporting Life not just from the inside as a dissolvent and transport of energy, but also from the outside as a protector
Why snowflakes are hexagonal? has it got something to do with the 105.4 degrees of separation of the water molecules? and are they really unique from one another? Does water has memory, and therefore capable of storing information? And if so, is the water inside me linked to whichever other creatures hosted that same molecules in the past? Can it recall the violence and the love it was subject to? Is a cluster of water-structure the ultimate key that powers the thoughts of our brains? Does water 're-align' itself harmoniously when expose to music and healthy vibrations? When we bless the food... are we actually projecting positive energy on the water of the food, thus make it harmoniously structured and healthy? Why rivers from 'meanders' and they don't go on regular lines? After all, nature energy-safe-philosophy dictates that the shortest distance between A and B is a straight line, right? Does our planet emit a healthy vibration that allows water to support life effortlessly? Organisms prefer to be formed of water, as it contains the perfect medium to transport energy (think of a tall tree, and the water carrying the nutrients to the top) and the resilience of supporting high and low outside temperatures without altering much the interior; consider that the organs on your body are fine-tuned to a specific temperature, they can only perform in between 35 to 38 degrees Celsius, quite a narrow range when you consider that the long-term habitable areas of our planet vary from -40C to +45C. The water inside us ensures that our bodies stay in the healthy range of 35 to 38 degrees, else we'll die. Indeed water is a very mysterious element, the only element that expands when it cools, and also the only element that we just cannot compress. And why in the first place hydrogen and oxygen combine to form water? Nobody really knows, but in doing so they enable Life for the whole Universe. Water is neutral, it has no charge, but it does reacts to electricity and magnetism, as it contains one area with positive charge and the other with negative, that's is probably why clouds can form thunders and rays are created during storms. Was Jesus baptism and his miracle of turning water into wine a hint? telling us that water is the key element of the Universe for transformation? Can we perhaps travel to other stars through water? After all, water molecules are present in absolutely everywhere and everything. When we look at someone, and we determine that that person is pretty or handsome, is our decision influence by the water molecules structures of both us and that person? Does our 104.5 degrees matches? Water is an inorganic molecule, yet the most important compound in the body, meaning we are not 100% organic, nothing is. We're made of water, hydrogen and oxygen (and a bit of nasty Deuterium too), and while Hydrogen is the fuel of stars, oxygen on the other hand interacts with everything and is very combustible, why don't we ignite? Could water be use as a fuel once we unlock its secrets? Why does it rain in droplets and not in a line of water, like a cascade? and why rain droplets are almost always the same size, no matter where it rains on the planet? Are water droplets the same size when it rain on planets with a different gravity force than ours?
And, again let me ask, why do rivers form meanders? yeah, yeah, we all know the story that the water speed causes erosion on one side of the river, moving sediments to the other side, etc. Possibly, but then why meander occurs when water if falling on windscreen? or through a window when it rains? And why the average sinuosity of a river is 3 times longer than if the river was running straight? This sinuosity of average is the number.... 3.14, the number pi. Is the water in tune by the vibration of our planet?
Credit: Structured water, what is it?
Jumping now out of the water, let's continue with what was happening with our planet. I would like to think that in the evening after Theia's impact the flag was raised, and geo, paleo and history physics started with the kilometre zero of the new beginning of planet Earth, with an age called the Precambrian period which includes in itself 3 Eons. There is no clear consensus as to when this period started, sometimes I read 4.6 billions years ago, other 4.5 and others even 4 billions years ago; the most common approach that I've found is as follows:
- Hadean Eoon, lasting something between 700 to 500 million years, sometimes I read 4.5 to 3.8 billions years ago and other 4.6 to 3.9 or 4 billion years. I guess we can't blame palaeontologist, given the huge amount of time that they're dealing with, but nevertheless it is kind of frustrating to read Science articles and each of them comes with a different time scale. They all agree, however, that this Eon contains the formation of the Moon and the Late Heavy Bombardment (LHB)
- Archean eon, a lot longer, lasting around 2.4 billion years or 2 billion years, contains the formation (or at least the evidence of existence) of our magnetosphere and hints of Life. During this period (in the so called Archean Oceans) there is evidence of oceans on our planet. Pillow lava show that there were oceans as old as 3.8 billion years ago
- Proterozoic eon, lasted for 2 billion years, this is when the oxygen appears in the atmosphere and the snowball events happened, when the Earth was completely covered in ice
I'd like to think that, yeah, that the history of our planet started right after the impact. However, and as usual, scientist lack just that bit of romantic touch, and apparently the Hadean Eon also include the collision with Theia, in other words the total formation of planet Earth. They got it wrong, obviously, because the planet is only formed after Theia's impact. Anyway, we are going to follow this already well established chronological map of planet Earth created by Science, to find out what happened during these times, let's see if all actually makes sense. Before moving forward, I'd like to introduce you to a new concept, yet another projection in our minds of the fabric of space-time, a measurement that I'll use in all of my timeline diagrams: the Ga or Gya, which stands for "giga-annum" and it means a billion years, 10 raise to the power of nine, in other words a Gya is represented like this: 1.000,000.000 (that is 1 billion years -short system-, and NOT one thousand million -long system- years as I was thought in school, ah good old days!)
Okay, so let's start where we end up on the previous chapter, right after the collision with Theia, and see how water fills this chapter too. The first Eon of planet Earth is also called the "Black Earth" and it may actually make sense as seeing from space, with the Earth surrounded with a thick atmosphere of dark and grey gases, generated from an ocean of molten rock with no end that was covering the surface of the planet. That must have been quite spectacular, with the planet spinning so fast... how strong were the winds? Would any hurricane of molten lava have formed? Let's say just 1 million years after the impact, the Moon by then would have pretty much formed and from its early beginning it was drifting away from planet Earth. Now the Moon takes about 28 days to complete an orbit around our planet, but back then, 1 million years after the impact, how long would have taken? It is believed that it was around then when the tidal locking between Earth and Moon began to manifest, with the Moon, in spite of orbiting so fast around our planet (we don't know how fast, but definitely much, much less than 28 days!), steadily being forced to stop and start presenting the same face to our planet. It has been condemn ever since to do that, from this time until the end of eternity. Even if nowadays the Moon is capable of influencing the Earth crust and have an input on earthquakes, back then, 4.5 billion years ago, its influence on the surface of Earth must have been horrendous, with friction forces that may have raise waves of molten lava perhaps hundreds of meters high, right? Specially when the Moon was full, or did it had phases at that time? In any case, there would have been no chance to see it from the surface, as the thick atmosphere of CO2 and sulphuric gases would have covered the entire Earth after the collision. Just like the currents that we experience nowadays on our oceans or the ones that we see on planet Jupiter, there must have been currents too when our Earth was just an infinite sea of molten rock. It must have been colder at the poles, I guess, where the currents would not have been that strong and the rocks could start cooling and forming big island or continents, floating on the plasma state of our planet, the starting of the pre-tectonic plates. These continents size of crust, even though cool on the surface, where enduring heat from underneath, immense heat that eventually gave to the creation of the first volcano of planet Earth, it must have been quite spectacular, erupting among the solidified rock and ejecting / releasing the heat from within the crust
Where was all the water then? None yet. Presumably there was some water on Earth -1, prior to Theia's kiss, water that was part of the original formation of the planet when it was gaining shape and size, during the process of collisions with the leftovers of Helios nebula icy and rocky materials. However, all of this water must have been vaporised when the collision with Theia took place, bursting off the molecules into space, as water is a very light element. The fairly big pull gravitational force of Earth would have prevented all of this water from escaping into the vacuum, and in spite of the extreme temperatures of the planet, some water vapour might have been retained in the atmosphere of Black Earth, but nowhere near the same amount that we now have, so where did all the remaining water that we currently enjoy on our planet comes from? Our planet back then must have been a mix of Venu's atmosphere and IO's (Jupiter's Moon) volcanic activity. Both Venus atmosphere and IO's surface seem to contain some molecules of water; Venus currently has them in tiny amount (but they re there), and there is evidences that IO could have had them in the past, but after so many billion of years it is all gone. So, if the hellish atmosphere of Venus contains some water molecules TODAY, could it had contained a lot more in the past, just like our Black Earth could have contained? And not only our Earth has water, as we know it, the Moon also has water! It must have arrived there after the collision and condensed once the surface was kind of cold. Our minds cannot properly visualise high temperatures, like those on the surface of the Sun, and water molecules together on the same environment, but maybe we're wrong: water is a very resilience element and it does exist in the form on ice at whichever low temperature you want to think of; can it also exist in the form of vapour to whichever high temperature you want to think of? If so, probably most of the water was on Earth -1 surface as part of his growing acquisition material process during the formation, and Theia just brought extra water and iron....together with a heat that will last for billions of years, locked in the interior of our planet
Below, a timeline I've developed that illustrates the periods created by Palaeontology together with the events and hypothetical circumstances that happened on our beloved planet. If you happen to remove any one of these early events....will Life still exist on our planet?
There are 3 hypothesis that aim to explain the origin of water on planet Earth:
- Late Heavy Bombardment (LHB), it is called late not because there was an earlier one, but because it seems to have occurred kind of late in the development of the solar system, when the planets were already formed. There is evidence in Mercury, in our Moon and in Mars that at around 4 billions years ago, and for the space of about 300 million years, they were subject to lots of impacts of comets and asteroids, surely not one every minute, like you see on the movies, but one every few hundred years or so, kind of a constant rate that left the scars and craters that we can see on their surfaces today. The idea is that these objects that were impacting were composed mostly of ice, water, and that they came from the outer solar system when we know water seems to be plentiful, around the Kuiper belt. Hello? First of all, it seems the water in the Kuiper Belt is "heavy water", formed with deuterium instead of hydrogen (adds an extra neutron to the nucleus), but anyway, how did they manage to bypass as they were entering into the inner solar system the forces of Saturn, and in particular Jupiter, gravitational fields? The massive role of Jupiter in relation to Life is to actually protect the inner rocky planets from impacts, we all know what Jupiter did to Shoemaker-Levi back in 1994, and it did it again with another comet in 2009. So, how come so many comets were able to completely bypass Jupiter's attraction and deliver water to Earth? And if Earth is estimated to have 1.3 billions cubit meters of water, the same amount must have been delivery in proportion to their sizes, to Mars, Venus, our Moon and even Mercury. Some scientists literally say not to blame the asteroids for the late heavy bombardment, but then again asteroids are the only ones who could have carried water to Earth. Something beyond the orbit of Jupiter would have contained heavy water or would have been sucked by Jupiter's pull. If we estimate that the LHB lasted around 300 millions years and that the Earth was subjected to an impact per 100 years, we can actually calculate the size of the comets in order to account for all the water in the planet:
- 1,300 million cubit meters of water / 300 million that lasted LHB = the planet was getting 4.3 million cubit water per million of years. So we deduce from this that for every 100 years the planet was getting 4,300 cubit meters of water....ahem.... that equals to a 4.3 Tones meteor every 100 years!!! insane!!! The meteor that blasted the dinosaurs had a diameter of 10 to 15 km... in comparison one of the meteors that were given water to Earth would have had a diameter of 4.3 km... double that when we consider that the vast majority of the comets we see nowadays are composed 50% of water, so yeah, a 8.6 km asteroid hitting every 100 years, maybe even bigger if we consider that materials like iron were also delivered to the surface at that time. A 500km wide asteroid impact would have vaporise all the water, no doubt about it, only superheated bedrock would be left behind a month after such an impact. Not a chance for Life at all... I just cannot understand how such big asteroids, if they ever impacted Earth, could have escaped Jupiter's pull and reach us. Research shows that the Kuiper belt must have had many million more comets that it currently has, where are the missing ones? Did the leave when a passing star went to close to our sun? Or did they slam into the inner planets? Kuiper belt grains and dust is still bombardment the inner solar system. At the time of the LHB, there were 500 miles an hour hurricanes due to the rapid rotation of our planet, what a sight that would have been: a 500 miles an hour hurricane smashed by the impact of 10 km asteroid
- Mantle Hydrogen Generator (MHG); there was not a nomenclature for this effect, so I just make the "Mantle Hydrogen Generator" or MHG. The theory goes that, being the most abundant element of the Universe, there was hydrogen too on our early Earth, compacted on its liquid form and that we can still find it nowadays when digging deep into our planet crust. This hydrogen (H), when compacted under the tremendous pressure on Earth's crust, and perhaps stress too by the influence of the strong tidal forces of the early moon, reacted with the oxygen kept in the silicates of the rocks, creating water as a result. This might explain why water is always on the planet not matter how deep you dig, it looks like is coming from the bottom up and not the other way around. Okay, we might have gotten a few icy asteroids on our surface, but as many as to account for the 1.3 billion of cubit meters of water? That's the estimated amount of water that we have. One thing I don't get about this theory is that hydrogen becomes liquid when compacted, yes... but at a temperature of minus 252.87 Celsius, so how come it does exist on its liquid form when the interior of Earth is so hot? If this theory has some fundamental weight, then water must be present underground on every planet! And being a light element eventually it will go up to the surface, possible? Granite is the base of all the continents, is this material somehow involve with the retention or creation of water deep on the crust surface?
- Prior Impact Water (PIW); again there was no nomenclature for this theory, so let just called Prior Impact Water or PIW. This theory stipulates that the water was presence on our planet before Theia's kiss. Nobody knows for sure, but is very likely that oceans were present on Earth -1; they were formed as part of previous collision of icy object and as the slow accumulation of water occurred in relation with the planet mass growth. Essentially, this theory removes the existence of LHB and indicates that the bombardment of icy objects carrying the water element occurred during the formation of the planet, as it is expected because, yes, the planet is being formed and we are still on the early stages, so plenty of material around the solar system to form a planet. Just imagine that the asteroids belt all of the sudden could overcome the force of Jupiter and finally merge into a planet/proto-planet, will it have oceans? The asteroids on that belt have plenty of water already. Will they really have oceans if a moon like, let's say Europa, so full of water, was able to join the planet too? It is possible that our early Earth was just like that, a planet to be full of oceans, and probably Theia had oceans too. After the impact all that water vaporised but could not escape the gravitational force of our planet, and eventually condensate in rain and began to flood the surface. Just imagine before the rain happened, when the surface was a pure ocean of magma: the atmosphere must have been tremendously huge, with a few kilometres high, in order to be thick enough to contain all that primitive water. Jack Hills, in Wester Australia, is where Zircon crystal have been found dated 4.4 billions years ago. These crystal are formed when molten rock get solidified, and it happens that these crystal seems to have been solidifies very rapidly, as if they were in the presence of water....an indication that oceans were present as far back as 4.4 billion years ago, right after Theia's collision and in time for the water of both planets to condensate and fall as rain on the surface
None of these hypothesis seems to correlate to the fact that we have 2 types of water on our planet: Light formed with hydrogen and Heavy formed with Deuterium, we have a lot more quantities of Light water than Heavy, but yes, we do have naturally in the environment Heavy Water, where did it come from? Was it delivered by comets well beyond Jupiter's orbit?
Light vs Heavy water. Credit: What is Deuterium?
Evidence has been found on another solar systems of LHB events, where a cloud of dust, presumably asteroids and comets, are circling around the habitable zone of a star. Is it a LHB an event that must occur in order for a planet to support life? There is no doubt that LHB happened on our solar system, craters in other planets are the proof of that, and that thanks to LHB we find elements like iron close to the surface of the earth, elements that otherwise would have sunken deep into the mantle, had not them being delivered once the mantle was cold and solid. These elements together with water are needed for the formation of Life, not to mention to support an advance civilisation
Let's take a moment to review our variables. In addition to Theia's collision, these other variables must also be met for life to exist:
- A Late Heavy Bombardment event must occur early in the life of planet, not just to deliver water but heavy metals to the surface too, this is to empower bio-chemistry, otherwise, on a melted surface planet, those metals essential for life will sink to the core
- The LHB has to deliver lots of water, to cover the surface of the planet up to 75%
- The LHB has to deliver useful bio-chemical components so that they are in the surface of the planet and can be used for chemical reactions; okay this is similar to point 1 but with a slight twist: the asteroid hitting the planet HAVE to BE composed on these materials
- Tectonic plates must exist, in order to account for regular change of climates that will drive the evolution of life. Is there are no tectonics plates then the deserts will be deserts forever and life will be stack to algae form, most likely, and will live in such a state forever ever after: no changes in conditions means life is not force to evolve
To conclude, we got kind of valid theories that attempt to explain why there is water on our planet, but none of them is solid. I guess the answer is a combination of all these theories together, but then again all of these concepts and arguments have holes, questions and doubts that make them just like water: impossible to hold in your hand on its liquid form
While Diving into the origins of Water, I recently found this great video on PBS that indeed put some light on this subject, it is defo worth a watch!
The Nice Model is a planetary formation model that suggest that Uranus and Neptune may have swapped orbits shortly AFTER the rocky planets were formed, video in slide 16 of week 3