28
Nov
06

Cosmic Rays Influenced Life on Earth?

According to a new paper being published in Astronomische Nachrichten, the amount of life in the ocean varied with cosmic ray exposure.

According to the story:

The stellar baby boom period of the Milky Way sparked a flowering and crashing of life here on Earth, a new study suggests.

Some 2.4 billion years ago when the Milky Way started upping its star production, cosmic rays—high-speed atomic particles—started pouring onto our planet, causing instability within the living. Populations of bacteria and algae repeatedly soared and crashed in the oceans.

The researchers counted the amount of carbon-13 within sedimentary rocks, the most common rocks exposed on the Earth’s surface. When algae and bacteria were growing in the oceans, they took in carbon-12, so the ocean had an abundance of carbon-13.

Many sea creatures use carbon-13 to make their shells. If there is a lot of carbon-13 stored in rocks, it means life, the origin of which is still unknown, was booming. Therefore, variations in carbon-13 are a good indicator of the productivity of life on Earth.

The researchers found that the biggest fluctuation in productivity coincided with star formation, which had an affect on Earth’s href=”http://www.livescience.com/climate/”>climate and therefore on the productivity of life on our planet.

Now, I find one particular part of this story odd. And since I don’t have access of that journal, I’m sort of at a loss. Let me explain where I’m having the trouble.

Carbon-13 is a naturally occurioccurringpe. It is stable and comprises about 1.1% of all carbon in the universe. As you sit there reading this, 1.1% of your body’s carbon is carbon-13. As the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-13 is constant, I’m not sure how these scientists can claim the C-13 is all from natural sources. If C-13 amounts are constant, then all carbon everywhere, regardless of source, will always have the same ratio of C-13 in it.

I’m not sure if counting the C-13 is representative of the sea life. It could very well be compressed methane (methane hydrate), a possibility as early earth had a methane-rich atmosphere.

Eh, I’m just musing at this point. If anyone can get me the pdf of this journal article, that would be great.


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My name is Doc. Welcome to my blog. If you're visiting from another blog, add me to your blogroll (and I'll happily reciprocate). I have a Ph.D. in Chemistry and live in Wisconsin. If you have any questions, feel free to email me. My email is docattheautopsy at gmail. (No linking to deflate the incredible spam monsters).

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