Want To Time-Travel?

I just have to share this! Quick time-out during my Black Underworld, Inc. series.

This fascinating time-traveling machine or rather software app actually doesn’t travel forward into the future, but it will take you as many as 750-million years into the geologic past from our current Holocene period to the Cryogenian period from any known address on Earth. Dial up your time-destination on the Delorean circuit-board, pull down your welding goggles, and fasten your seat-belt. It’s off to Pangea we go.

I can think of a number of blogging friends that might enjoy fiddling around with this cool app:  John Z, Arkenaten, IBTD, Nan, CommonAtheist, SecularJurist, Steve, Tildeb, Swarn, and perhaps too the magnana-wonderous Lady Esme and a few others and maybe (if my message in a bottle reaches him 😉 ) just maybe the castaway Hariod. I also know of some bloggers who would not enjoy the app or its implications—it flies in the face of their Young Earth and Creationist delusions beliefs. Oh well, can’t please everyone, huh? WHAAH… WATCH OUT! That Velociraptor is trying to eat your baby in the manger! 😱

Silliness aside. On to the science. With the address, region, or city you type in the interactive Ancient Earth tool will inform you of nearby dinosaur fossils from that geologic period. You can also select particular organisms-of-life periods such as the “first insects,” or “first dinosaurs” or “first multicellular life.” As you select one of 26 different time-periods you can watch the shorelines move inland or out based upon sea levels relative to glaciers and the polar ice-caps at that time. I discovered this app by my email subscription to Smithsonian.com and arts-science journalist Meilan Solly writes:

Ancient Earth, the tool behind this millennia-spanning visualization, is the brainchild of Ian Webster, curator of the world’s largest digital dinosaur database. As Michael D’estries reports for Mother Nature Network, Webster drew on data from the PALEOMAP Project—spearheaded by paleogeographer Christopher Scotese, the initiative tracks the evolving “distribution of land and sea” over the past 1,100 million years—to build the map. […]

To switch from one time period to another, you can either manually choose from a dropdown menu or use your keyboard’s left and right arrow keys. Start at the very beginning of the map’s timeline, Michele Debczak advises for Mental Floss, and you’ll see the planet evolve from “unrecognizable blobs of land” to the massive supercontinent of Pangea and, finally, the seven continents we inhabit today.

Take about 10-minutes and go play around at Ancient Earth and get an approximate intriguing visual of just how our tectonic plates have evolved and just how much NOTHING on this planet stays the same for one year or one minute. It hasn’t for at least the last 4.5 billion years!


Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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Every 405,000 Years

Geo-core samplesFor decades astronomers have theorized that like our Moon impacts our tides, over tens of thousands of years our closest and largest planets in our solar system (Venus and Jupiter) have influenced Earth’s climate. Since Serbian astrophysicist Milutin Milanković hypothesized his Earth orbital-cycles of variations in the 1920’s affected Earth’s climates, there simply hasn’t been any sufficient physical proof for his cycles theory. Until last month.

With the further advanced technology and methodologies used on geological formations and strata (magnetostratigraphy) in correlation with the Newark–Hartford APTS (Astrochronostratigraphic Polarity Timescale) published May 7, 2018 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, now:

…provide[s] empirical confirmation that the unimodal 405-kiloyear orbital eccentricity cycle reliably paces Earth’s climate back to at least 215 million years ago, well back in the Late Triassic Period.

This conclusion was based on the geological research of three different cores:  two from two different sites of ancient lake beds in New Jersey and New York, and one rock core 1,500-feet long from the Arizona’s Petrified Forest National Park.

The geologists noticed that lake sediment cores would disclose a consistent pattern of ancient lakes drying up then refilling over the course of hundreds of thousands of years forming different geological strata. This suggested cyclical changes in climate. The difficulty was that at the time they lacked the extensive methods to accurately date those climatic shifts. Fortunately, the Arizona Petrified Forest core, contained layers of ash from volcanic eruptions. These could definitely be dated because they contained radioisotopes.

Scientists compared and aligned the Arizona core dates to the NJ-NY ancient lake cores using bands found in all of the cores, indicating reversals in Earth’s magnetic fields. Yes, “reversals”! This allowed them to more precisely study the records. The analysis then demonstrated that the climate swings did indeed take place every 405,000 years for at least the last 215-million years, which is back through the Late Triassic Age when dinosaurs walked the Earth.

What does all this have to do exactly with Venus and Jupiter? Understanding gravitational forces by mass, Venus — the closest planet to us at 24-million miles — tugs us slightly closer to the Sun, and Jupiter — the largest planet in our solar system at 318-times more massive than Earth — tugs us slightly further from the Sun. At the peaks of those infrequent elliptical orbits, Earth has indeed historically experienced (the last 215-million years) hotter summers and colder winters with more extreme times of rain-flooding and dryer droughts

antarctic ice-strata

Antarctic ice strata also determines Earth’s climate millions of years in the past

Dr. Dennis Kent at Columbia and Rutgers Universities, specializing in paleomagnatism, states:

Scientists can now link changes in the climate, environment, dinosaurs, mammals and fossils around the world to this 405,000-year cycle in a very precise way. The climate cycles are directly related to how the Earth orbits the sun and slight variations in sunlight reaching Earth lead to climate and ecological changes.

Beyond Earth’s ancient past and astrophysics this study is a substantial breakthrough for the methods in which geologists are able to date cores and present a reliable more accurate timeline of Earth’s geologic past. It will also assist in many other scientific domains!

Paleontologist of the University of Edinburgh, Dr. Steve Brusatte:

[With the aid of APTS and newest magnetostratigraphy it] is a really important study for clarifying the Triassic timescale and untangling the sequence of events that occurred as Pangea began to split up and the dinosaurs originated and then diversified. It’s mostly a study of how to tell geological time rather than of how changes in climate relate to evolution.

Most people want to know the more immediate concern: Where are we currently in the Venus-Jupiter climate-cycle? And could Venus’ and Jupiter’s tug-cycles be responsible for our current climate-changes?

Bad news climate-change deniers. Astronomers and astrophysicists calculate that we are about in the middle of the 405k cycle. Earth’s orbit is very close to circular, not elliptical, and presently not near enough to cause disruptions in climate or global warming. The changes we have been experiencing come from some 238-years of outsized human output and input in the release of greenhouse gasses.


Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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What A Jerk!

I’ve just finished riding my mountain bike through park trails, up and down hills, and return home out of breath and very thirsty. I grab my water bottle craving a quench to my thirst, so I gulp, and gulp as fast as I can… too fast. I completely mess up my body’s breathing rhythm and BAAM! I hiccup…hard! It’s not only uncomfortable, sometimes painful and embarrassing in public, but it takes perhaps 2-3 minutes or more to rid yourself of them, right!? What is this malfunction and why does it even exist?

I want to know!


Sargeant Carter’s briefing

Later in the evening relaxing on my couch from a fabulous day teaching little Energizer Bunnies followed by that wonderful strenuous bike-ride, with a purpose I’m reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace before bed. About the third paragraph, page 2 I believe, I slip into what I think was Never-never-Land and suddenly jump, snapping out of sinking pure relaxation into a VIOLENT jolt! Ouch! What is this malfunction and why does it even exist!?

I want to know!

Knowing is the First Step to Prevention, Right?

Not so fast. Turns out that what your parents explained or grade school proposed as the menacing ailment and proven cure, may not be the whole story.

The Hiccup — The police Sargeant opens up the Jerkiness File, pulls out a 4×10 magnet and throws it up on the “Open Cases” investigation board. It sticks and reads “Diaphragm, T.” Our first accomplice! The young rookie cop asks, “What’s the T for Sir?” Sargeant takes a pause, “Pyle,” he grunts “it’s so your penile brain doesn’t make its normal sexist associations!” Who is this and what’s its function? Diaphragm…first name Thoracic, is the shifty muscle behind all the business. He sits just below your chest working perfectly and secretly as you breath; the Accountant of the operation, if you will. His function? He pulls down when inhaling to bring in business (air), and he relaxes so business is released when your lungs exhale. It’s a regular respiratory black-market!

diaphragm_tBut there’s a nastier side to Diaphragm. The room of officers fall silent…what? What could be more sinister? The Sargeant’s voice deepens, “Sometimes Diaphragm gets irritated and when he gets irritated, nobody is happy!” Apparently when he’s pissed, he pulls down hard and fast sucking air down your throat! When that rushing air hits your voice box, your vocal chords slam shut giving that hiccup jerk! “Accounting” just closes business down and everything becomes very uncomfortable until Diaphragm returns to normal.

That’s the school version, maybe your parent’s version too. There is another one; the medical community’s version. Respiratory doctors, gastrointestinal doctors, and gastroenterology call the hiccup Synchronous diaphragmatic flutter, or SDF. It has another alias too:  Singultus. The medical community says Singultus is somewhat unpredictable and an involuntary contraction of the diaphragm simultaneously with the contraction of the larynx and complete closure of the glottis…which basically is a shut-off valve for your air intake. Reasons for the “shut-off” are generally believed to be triggered by minor stomach upsets.

Then there is the Other more extensive version of Why the hiccup… the one I find fascinating. But first, all of you will meet our second fiendish criminal and crime-scene, street-name:  the Never-never-Land jerk.

My Tolystoy-Leap or Hypnic-Jerk — Sargeant Carter reaches into the Jerkiness File again. He pulls out the second magnet slapping it onto the board. This one reads “Brain, M.” Hah! The scoundrel of sleeplessness! Before Pyle, G. can open his rookie mouth Sargeant Carter nips “Do you have one of those Pyle” he asks. “Why don’t you demonstrate for everyone what the M stands for.” Once again the room falls silent, all ears upon Pyle, G. and his lethargic expression. Seconds turn into longer seconds. “I’ll save you the pleasure Pyle.” Sargeant Carter writes on the board with the marker…Monkey. “Our second felon is Monkey Brain!” exclaims the Sargeant “I want all of you to help Pyle find his so we can close this damn case, preferably this decade!

QUIET all of you! There’s more. Brain, M. is shifty too. The report is that Brain has a rather diverse personality and a huge creative ego; some say conflicted. He will not be easy to track down so listen up!

Thermogram_of_sleepThe medical experts say Brain’s most common shiftyness while asleep are rapid eye movement while the rest of the body and limbs stay still, making it difficult to know what’s going on in that head. If Brain is watching a fox chase a rabbit, the eyes will follow the chase (in his head) everywhere, but if he’s riding a bike or jogging, you would never know it. Stealthy S.O.B.! Fortunately, we’ve got a deep undercover mole inside the operation. They report that as Brain gives in to watching and listening to business inside and outside the “organization,” Brain begins to entertain himself and relaxation/sleep creeps in. That’s when things get weird. A struggle begins over control of the motor system between nocturnal operations and daytime operations; Brain splits into two different managers while the fight ensues. Both keep intruding on the other’s territory until the dreamy rest personality prevails. These are the preliminary reports from within and our ongoing investigation. However, as mentioned, there are Other developing versions and theories of why Diaphragm, T. and Brain, M. work this way.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATadpoles and Diaphragm

There are those” Sargeant Carter’s voice raises “who might feel Paleontology is bogus, even illegal or demonic.” Carter gets firm, clinching his fist, “But in the field of crime and solving cases NOTHING is ever ignored! If you or I slip-up and miss a clue, that could be the difference between life or death for someone! This is why we call in forensic scientists.” The Sargeant stops, glares at every officer, leans over toward them and says, “You WILL listen to every word, every syllable they utter… especially you Pyle!

Carter turns on the overhead projector and begins.

Our first top forensic scientist and co-investigator, Neil Shubin of the University of Chicago and Natural History Magazine, says that Diaphragm and the hiccup are “a legacy of our “fishy” ancestry.” Pointing to the back of the room Sargeant Carter introduces, “Mr. Shubin, the floor and our undivided attention is yours.

shark_human_embryosThank you Sargeant Carter.” Shubin clicks the image-changer, up pops a side-by-side comparison of a shark’s gill area and a human’s jaw area. “Due to 3.5 million years of genetic tweaking and re-engineering, our human flexible throat that has led to our highly developed speech and communication, has also made us susceptible to modern sleep apnea, snoring, choking, and hiccups.” Dr. Shubin continues as he explains a, b, c, and d in the image:

Both shark and human embryos (a, b) have similar gill arches (the brightly colored elements). In sharks, the cells in these arches become bones, nerves, arteries, and muscles that support the gills (c); in humans, they form the jaw, ears, larynx, and parts of the throat (d).

The annoyance of [Diaphragm and] hiccups also has its roots in our fish and amphibian past. If there is any consolation, we share that misery with others. Cats and dogs, like many other mammals, also get hiccups. A small patch of tissue in the brain stem is thought to be the center that controls that complicated reflex.

The hiccup reflex is a stereotyped twitch that involves a number of muscles in the body wall, diaphragm, neck, and throat. A reflexive firing of one or two of the major nerves that control breathing causes those various muscles to contract. This results in a very sharp inspiration of air. Then, about thirty-five milliseconds later, a flap of tissue in the back of the throat (the glottis) closes the top of the airway. The fast inhalation followed by a brief closure of the air tube produces the “hic.”

Our tendency to develop hiccups is another influence of our past. There are two issues to think about. One is what causes the reflexive firing of nerves that initiates the hiccup. The other is what controls that distinctive hic—the abrupt inhalation and the glottis closure. The nerve action is a product of our fish history, while the hic is an outcome of the history we share with tadpoles.

[The theoretical conclusion is this:] The genes that control all of this structure [and restructuring] were originally used to build the bodies of ancient worms, flies, and fish. Every part of us tells this story: our sense organs, our heads, even our entire body plan.

Dr. Shubin stops and turns off the overhead projector. “The rest of my studies, data research, and theories can be found in your individual packets placed in front of you. Sargeant Carter?Click here for his article.

* * * * * * * * * *

Carter returns to the front, “Our second forensic co-investigator is Dr. Frederick Coolidge from the University of Colorado. He will enlighten all of you of more clues about Brain, M.” The Sargeant looks to the back of the room, “Dr. Coolidge, you have our undivided attention, including Pyle’s.

Primates from Trees and Monkey Brain

lemur_sleeping_treeThank you Sargeant” as Coolidge flips on the projector again to reveal an image of lemurs sleeping in a tree, he begins “Paleontology, more specifically Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, are suggesting that our ancient primate ancestors, following Dr. Shubin’s tadpoles of course, also had our hypnic jerk. They still do!” Dr. Coolidge changes the image to a fatigued woman asleep over laundry. “As Sargeant Carter spoke about earlier regarding the battle between Brain, his working fatigue, and nocturnal operations, the body slips into a limbo-like state and Brain doesn’t want to give up any control.” He flips to the next image, a man “falling” over his bed, but actually still lying in it.

Primates sleeping in trees also mimic this hypnic jerk which for them is an archaic reflex to the brain’s misinterpreting the muscle relaxation accompanying the onset of sleep as a signal that the sleeping primate is falling out of a tree. The reflex may also have had selective value by having the sleeper readjust or review his or her sleeping position in a nest or on a branch in order to assure that a fall did not occur.

female_fatiqueDr. Coolidge goes on to explain, “Sleep studies done at the University of Bologna in Italy have suggested the jerks are also associated with a rapid heartbeat, quickened breathing, sweat, and sometimes a peculiar sensory feeling of ‘shock’ or ‘falling into the void.’” Coolidge takes a moment, then paces back and forth staring at the floor. “Those behaviors and reactions are not unlike most primates, including ourselves. The behavior in the primate world is closely associated with what scientists call the Fight-or-Flight Response. As law enforcement agents, all of you are too familiar with this innate tendency.

hypnic-jerkSargeant Carter chimes in, “It is the reason society must always have law enforcement; some primate behaviors have changed or evolved little over millions of years.

— The author of this post so desperately wants to go into why some primate behaviors don’t evolve, but due to the fact that this post is already approaching 2,000 words, feels it might be suitable for another later post. Very sad face follows. —

Dr. Coolidge turns off the projector and begins passing out packets of his and his colleague’s study and theory… “Inside these folders you will all find mine and Dr. Thomas Wynn’s alternative theory of Brain, M. and his hypnic jerk behavior. Examine it closely.Click here for the study.

The Briefing Adjourns

Sargeant Carter returns to the front, “Agents, it would seem that Diaphragm, T and Brain, M. have been at large for a very long time, probably millions of years, causing rampant hiccups and hypnic jerking. That in no way implies we slack-up on the case and concede no arrests when there are obviously leads and clues galore! No, we will not; not on my watch!” The Sargeant walks over to the front board and points at the two names. “I want these two” he yells “understood like the back of your hands… that would be your free-hand Pyle… I want them identified, their accomplices identified, all cuffed and brought in!” He stares at his agents. They stare back. Three seconds later…

NOW you grunts!” All but one launches out of their chairs immediately…”Pyle, Gomer… damn it, that sure as hell includes YOU!

Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

(paragraph break)

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