Fr. Victor Badillo, SJ: “Planet Ocean: Did this happen by chance?”


by Fr. Victor L. Badillo, SJ

The surface of the earth is made of continents and oceans.  The surface of the continents is not smooth.  There are high mountain chains (Rockies, Andes, etc), deep canyons (Grand Canyon) and other uneven

If we wave a magic wand to make the oceans disappear, we see that surface of the bottom of the ocean is not smooth.  There are high mountain chains, and mountains so high that their summits break the ocean surface as high islands, like Hawaii.  Canyons like the Philippine Deep are so deep that they can swallow Mount Everests.

With a second wave of the magic wand, we can fill in the low places using the materials of the high places so that we end up with a solid sphere whose surface is as smooth a billiard ball.

With a third wave of the magic want, we can return the water that we
borrowed.  What do we see? Not a trace of land.  The billiard ball earth is several kilometers under water.

Behold Planet Ocean.

We have so much water, 1.4 billion cubic kilometers of water.  But not a
drop in the rest of the solar system.  Not a drop of liquid water.

What makes this possible?  The presence of water in liquid form depends on the temperature of the planet.  Water in liquid form exists in the
temperature range zero to 100 degrees Centigrade.  The temperature in turn depends on the planets’:

  1. Distance from the sun. The closer we are to a source of heat, for example a fire, the warmer we get.
  2. Rate of rotation. The longer we stay in the heat the warmer we get.  In winter in the northern hemisphere, while the temperature in areas near the equator fluctuate a few degrees around 27 degrees C, the temperature in areas towards the pole fluctuate a few degrees about zero degrees C.   For while along the equator night time is about 11 hours, that towards the pole is about 9 hours or less.
  3. Atmospheric composition. In winter, thermal clothing keeps us warm by preventing the escape of body heat.

These three factors are presented in tabular form for easy comparison.  The other and further planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus) have no surface.  They are gas planets.  The planets below are the earth planets.

Column A shows the distances from the sun in comparison with that of the earth.  Mars is 1.5 X further than earth.   Column B gives the time a planet takes to rotate, one day for earth and 243 days for Venus.  Column C tells the principal composition, if any, of the planet, thus carbon dioxide for Venus, oxygen for earth.  The interplay of these factors results in the present temperatures in degrees Centigrade in column D.

Planet to sun day atm temperature
Mercury 0.387 58.6 days none 465 C to -184 C
Venus 0.72 243 days co2 450 C
Earth 1 23.9 hrs n2o2 25 C
Moon 1 29 days none 107 to -153 C
Mars 1.5 24.5 hrs co2 140 to +20

The moon and the earth have the same distance from the sun.  But the moon has a much longer day.  The side of the moon facing the sun for 14 days gets very hot, while the other side gets very cold.  Also there is enough carbon dioxide on earth to trap heat while there is none on the moon.   On the earth in places that are hot in the day all year round, exposed water freezes during the night because the heat radiates fast in those cloudless lands.   The situation of Mercury is similar to that of the moon.

The atmosphere of Venus, the earth’s twin in terms of size, has plenty
carbon dioxide.  This plus a 122-day daytime account for the unabated rise in temperature, enough to melt lead.  The runaway greenhouse effect on Venus is a warning of what could happen on earth if our carbon dioxide keeps rising.

Mars has the same day period as the earth but is further and has very
little carbon dioxide.  This accounts for the recorded temperature.

From the data shown, only on planet earth can water exist in liquid form. The presence of water in liquid form is what makes life on possible only on earth in the solar system.  To find life in extra solar systems one must find a place where water in liquid form exists.   This means finding also a twin of our sun and a twin of the earth. The probability of finding life elsewhere is discouragingly dim.

But for now, planet Ocean is the oasis in the vast desert of space.  Here
we find water, oxygen and all that is needed for plants, animals and embodied spirits.  For man to visit Mars, he has to provide himself with
fuel, food, water, oxygen and the ability to recycle everything to enable us to travel for three years, a brief stay on the planet, and the return home. Recycling needs energy.  The logistical requirement is a nightmare. While all these needs are provided us on earth with the least expense.

Did all this happen by chance?

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About ateneophysicsnews
Physics News and Features from Ateneo de Manila University

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