How has space affected our life on Earth?

How has space affected our life on Earth?

We have all heard that dinosaurs they were extinguished by a meteorite.

We accept that easily, but we do not stop to think that, if a single rock in space could end up with beings as great as them, we were not going to evolve by going to bed.

And it is that we may not have witnessed any astronomical event suspected of having changed our lives, but humanity has almost three million years on the face of the Earth and, during that period, an infinity of phenomena that, for better or for worse, have led us to have the planet and the way of life that we have today.

The Supernova explosion that changed human evolution

The most recently discovered case has just been published in Nature and it’s about the explosion of a Supernova at the dawn of the human species that could drastically change the way in which it evolved.

As you know, Supernovas are the visible result of a stellar explosion very violent. For decades, researchers have suspected that this phenomenon could have caused changes on Earth, since mass extinctions up to drastic interruptions in the global climate, but they could not confirm if these changes had coincided in time with the human species.

However, it all started to make sense when in 1999 they were discovered in deep ocean rocks remains of iron-60, a radioactive variety of iron coming from these explosions. This makes it clear that even today we live with remains of the radioactive fallout that one of these Supernovas dropped on our planet, so it does not seem unreasonable to think that perhaps it was not so long ago that they paid us a visit. close enough as to generate changes.

But then, could human evolution have been shaped by one of these explosions? To give an answer, a group of researchers from German and Portuguese universitiess, they focused on the known as Local bubble, the region of Milky Way in which is the Solar system, where they found that the temperature of the plasma amounts up to 18 million degrees Fahrenheit Or what is the same, 1 million degrees centigrade. This overheating probably comes from a series of supernovae, so it was a good place to start searching.

Then using complex computational models they calculated the possible masses of dying stars and the trajectory that the radioactive materials had to take after the explosion; They concluded that, taking into account the areas where iron-60 remains had been found, the explosion of two supernovae should have taken place 230 million light years del Sol approximately 22 and 15 million years respectively.

As I told you at the beginning, the oldest known member of the genre Homo I was already on the Earth 28 million years, making it clear that its evolution could be affected.

Planet X and the Comet Shower

As you know, comets have been a sign of bad omen throughout our planet since time immemorial And it is not for less, not only because of how impressive it is to see a majestic ball of fire crossing the sky, but also due to its possible involvement with the mass extinctions of the Earth.

And if until recently there was no star to blame for this Deluge, a mathematician of the University of Arkansas recently found a possible culprit, the Planet x. Okay, the existence of this ninth planet is not yet fully proven, but the truth is that it seems to exist and that, in addition, it has an unhealthy fondness for scattering kites wherever it finds them. This is because every 27 million years, as it revolves around the Sun, it crosses the Kuiper belt, a set of kites which also revolves around the star King, causing them to shoot off everywhere, including Earth.

Meteorites, terrain remodelers

Meteorites are the main protagonists of stories about astronomical catastrophes, both real and fictional. And it is that, from the meteorite that killed the dinosaurs to the rain of Kryptonite rocks that devastated Smallville, giving away a Superman in diapers to humanity, these fragments of meteroids that collide with the Earth have caused the fascination and fear of those who think that one of them could be to blame for the future extinction of our species.

However, the truth is that hundreds of these fragments impact our planet, digging into the ground curious craters, similar to those seen on the surface of the Moon. On the other hand, they can also affect the soil microbial communityor and even provoke a global climate changeAlthough the mechanisms that give rise to these events are not entirely known.

The need to know more about this topic has given rise to the Expedition 364, a project carried out by several Universities around the world, among which are the Zaragoza’s University and the Complutense University of Madrid, which will take place in the Yukatn peninsula, in the ground zero of the meteorite that gave rise to one of the largest mass extinctions from Earth does 66 million years. Drilling works will begin next April 13th and they intend to shed new light on how the biosphere after this impact and determine if it had something to do with the global warming that came later.

Solar radiation, silent killers

All this is very curious: comets, unknown planets, stellar explosions. But if there is a phenomenon from space that the human species has to deal with every day, with terrible consequences in some cases, it is the solar radiation.

And it is that these radiations have not only shaped the pigmentation of our skin, which has evolved to darker in the sunnier areas and lighter in the cold ones; but also are responsible for the skin cancer, one of the most worrisome diseases of recent years.

The Sun has always been there, yes; but, as you know, in the past we were more protected by ozone layer, a layer present in the atmosphere which is in charge (or was in charge) of absorbing the vast majority of the high frequency ultraviolet radiation, letting go only that of long wave, necessary for the existence of life on Earth.

However, the use of harmful substances for ozone has led to the deterioration of this layer, which little by little is letting more harmful radiation through than it should, leading to an increase in cases of diseases such as melanoma, eye cataracts, or suppression of the immune system.

Astronomical phenomena that gave us precious metals

Another way in which astronomical phenomena have changed our life on Earth has been the contribution of precious metals; Well, as we saw in an article recently, some metals very heavy since gold or platinum did not originate on Earth, but came from some kind of explosion, coming from a Supernova Or the neutron star fusion.

How could our species be affected by astronomical phenomena?

As you can see, all these phenomena have changed the climate of our planet several times, they have shaped the terrain to their liking and have brought us the odd disease, but not everything has been bad. No, I am not referring to precious metals, which are also important, but to the theory of some researchers who affirm that several of these events could be very beneficial for the human species. For example, they theorize that the Supernovae that I told you about at the beginning could give rise to a global climate change that would favor the continuity of the human species and, furthermore, add that the radioactivity caused by iron, it could cause all kinds of mutations; of which some, like the increase in brain size, they could be positively accepted by evolution.

Of course, it is good that we laugh when Paulo Coelho talks about conspiracies of the Universe, but it must be recognized that, whether we like it or not, we are at his mercy.

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