Thursday, September 27, 2007

New Theory on Origin of Earth’s Water and Why You Should Care

A few weeks ago, I described a theory on how water could form in space, and how that water (in the form of ice) could reach the surface of the Earth in the form of comets or deposits on asteroids. And most scientists believe this is how water ended up on Earth. But a new theory by scientists at the Tokyo Institute of Technology suggests, “water brewed at home, not in space,” according to a New Scientist report.

Who cares? Well, you owe your existence to water on this planet. Said one Japanese researcher, “Water is essential for the origin and evolution of life. Why does water exist on Earth, where did it come from? These are fundamental questions for human beings."

According to the new theory, the primordial earth was covered in a “thick blanket of hydrogen.” Over time, oxides from the Earth’s mantle reacted with the hydrogen to form water droplets, and then puddles, ponds, lakes, rivers and eventually seas and oceans.

The theory isn’t without soft spots. One reason scientists mostly agree that water came from outer space is the chemical signature of water on Earth. As it turns out, water on Earth has a similar chemical makeup as water in asteroids. Basically, the ratio of heavy-hydrogen to hydrogen is pretty much the same in the Pacific Ocean as it is in an asteroid drifting between, say, Jupiter and Mars.

For the wonks that are still with me here, “heavy hydrogen” is the common man’s term for “deuterium.” Deuterium is hydrogen with an extra neutron and proton.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.