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More in this section Physics & Chemistry of Earth Processes

Is the Earth Special?


This research concerns a simple but important question: Is our world a typical product of planetary formation processes, or does it exhibit an unusual combination of properties that were necessary preconditions for the emergence of intelligent life? Clearly, if there are any such prerequisites, they must be present on Earth even if they are extremely rare in the general population of planets. Research has concentrated upon the architecture of the Earth-Moon system and its influence on climate. The results strongly suggest that the Gaia hypothesis ("a complex biosphere produces environmental stability") has confused cause and effect (" environmental stability is a precondition for the emergence of a complex biosphere").

Earth Axis precession as a function of Earth-Moon angular momentum and Lunar Mass. Note that most alternate Earth-Moon systems would have more rapid precession or an unstable obliquity.
Typical rate of orbital precession as a function of Jupiter and Saturn location. Wider spaced solar systems have slower precession (and hence more stable climates on any terrestrial planets present in the system).




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