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No. 56: Mar-Apr 1988

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Large moon essential to the development of life?

Even before its well known effect on romance, our moon was the key to the development of life on earth, according to J. Pearson. He ventures that our ponderous moon (much larger than the moons of Mars) was the key to the melting of the earth's core via tidal friction. With a fluid core, the earth developed a strong magnetic field (much stronger than those of the other inner planets) through dynamo action. This field protected nascent life from space radiation -- and here we are! (Hecht, Jeff; "Lunar Link with Life on Planets," New Scientist, p. 40, January 21, 1988.)

Comment. Current scientific opinion declares that the moon was captured by the earth -- a rather rare astronomical event. The capture of a very large moon would be even rarer. From this shaky chain of thoughts, we conclude that life in the universe must be exceedingly scarce. However, such long chains of inferences are usually found to be far off the mark.

From Science Frontiers #56, MAR-APR 1988. 1988-2000 William R. Corliss