Wednesday, 22 July 2015
The thing is the whizz kids at NASA had expected to see a pox ridden Pluto - not a face washed with Camay. All this means is that in the last 100 million years there's been a significant re-arrangement of the sub planet's mush . They expected ol' Pluto to look a bit like the moon - full of craters, telling a story of cosmic bombardment billions of years ago, when our solar system wasn't a nice place to be in. Loads of large pieces of ice,rock and other exotics slamming into poor Pluto, and then nothing for a few billion years.
The Plutonic plains, smooth as a baby's bum, suggest activity less than 100 million years ago. Something happened not that long ago - when Diplodocus was munching its way thro' our primordial savanna. That something might have been major seismic activity: outpouring from Pluto's still warm interior.
Which is when I start to worry. You've heard about the Deccan Traps haven't you? Some 66 million years ago the Earth burped: and spewed out a volume of lava enough to cover half of India. It's still there, but after 60 million odd years it's not that obvious. Some scientists, however, suggest that it, along with a fucking great meteor slamming into what is now Cancún, around the same time: well, good night Vienna for the sauropods and their friends.
This is where I start to worry. We may not be as stupid as Jurassic Joe, but frankly we have difficulty coping with a wi-fi outage. I don't think planet Earth has completely settled down - like the Moon - which is good in one sense, 'cause if it had we'd be in r..e..a..l trouble. But if it's still full of plate tectonic vigour and deep plume up swellings, what's to stop another Deccan Traps happening. Leaving much of humanity buried deep in volcanic ash or wondering why the sun's disappeared and the strawberries at Wimbledon weren't up to scratch.
The trouble is, I start thinking like this and it's "2012", "Prometheus" and "Interstellar" rolled into one. But hold on to this and it's extremely powerful. We'd never be here if the Earth suffered regular catastrophes. You need an undisturbed period of cosmic quiet for life to evolve from small mammals, left after the near extinction of the dinosaurs - don't forget the birds - to us. Regular cosmic impacts are inimical to advanced life forms.
Unless, of course, you're a Creationist, in which case all bets are off.