Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Extinction Spirals

Every 27 Million years, according to this research, life on this planet gets kind of wiped out.

Between 10 percent to over 60 percent of all species' population goes extinct on what looks like a regular basis. Just think on it. Makes our local space-and-time rages against the Machine look sort of pathetic, eh?

Well, not really. I'm used to thinking in terms of huge numbers of years as well as great distance - I've been thinking as an astronomer since I was about six years old, I reckon - but that doesn't stop me from wanting to fight for Life right here and right now, as well. Maybe it's what we are supposed to be doing, in this spatio-temporal knot.

But apart from the sheer gall of it, I was awestruck by the number attached to this periodicity. 27 Million years. If we deal in base 10, then a Million is a significant and handy chunk of time. But 27? That's 3 to the third power, or three to the power of itself. A canny and holy number all by itself.

As to what's causing this - hel, how should I know? Perhaps it's in the nature of time itself, to form a spiral of repeating spatio-temporal events, acausal. Perhaps that's just, in other words, what time does.

We have about 16 Million years, it appears, to work it out. This time around, at any rate.