That water in some form constitutes a prominent part of the rings and clouds surrounding those planets seems too logical to be doubted. That the clouds also contain other volatile elements and compounds found on Earth surely cannot be questioned. It follows, then, that they contain silicon, calcium, sulphur, sodium, chlorine, potassium, lead, gold, silver, iron and other components in some form and in greater or lesser amounts. They must contain carbon in various forms and compounds. What product has Nature produced which could substitute for carbon in Saturn’s “dusky” ring or in the black portions of Jupiter’s envelope?
Smoke rising from the stacks of every smelter and steel mill attests the power of even puny fires in man-made furnaces to vaporize and hurl aloft carbon, sulphur, lead, gold, silver and other substances. How vastly more potent must have been the incandescent fires of formative eras!
Obviously the shrouded planetary cores are not incandescent, i.e., self-luminous; hence it cannot be heat which is keeping their atmospheric minerals suspended. We know that the latter are revolving around the cores at great velocities. Therefore, under physical law, it can be only centrifugal force which is preventing descent. They could never have been part of the solidified planetary cores, for, had they once gravitated to the cores due to absence of repelling heat, there could have been no force capable of vaporizing them again and hurling them aloft. Hence they must be primordial. But because all those substances must in time descend, can it be doubted that they will some day constitute portions of super crusts of those planets?
No physicist will deny that if Earth’s core was once an igneous, molten mass, all water now upon and within it, also other volatile and less refractory minerals, were vaporized and held away by the repellent energy of heat. No physicist will question the assertion that the vapors aloft must have been hurled into rotary motion in harmony with the same forces which gave rotary motion to the core. Since we can see four other planets covered today with clouds of aqueous and other mineral matter revolving at velocities which prevent descent, can we not conclude with confidence that Earth’s primordial atmospheric matter likewise did not all descend at one time or as soon as heat ceased to repel it?
Formation of Rings
Having propounded the hypothesis that long after Earth’s core had cooled an envelope of aqueous particles, mingled with other mineral matter now comprising its crust, continued to revolve around it in space above, we are confronted with the question of how the minerals in that primordial atmosphere behaved and eventually descended to Earth’s core. Although all our speculations in this regard may be completely in error, the fact will still remain that all primordial atmospheric matter has descended and has become part of Earth’s core and crust. Of this there can be no doubt. Let us not rule out the probability that some atmospheric matter may have escaped completely from Earth’s gravitational control, as will be mentioned later.
In attempting to develop a logical theory of what happened, we encounter many indeterminable questions. How large was the mass of unincorporated matter? What was its shape? How fast was it rotating? Was it rotating independently of the core? Were all its parts rotating at the same velocity, etc.? Doubtlessly, all or most of such characteristics differed at every stage of evolution. However, in any event and no matter what geological era we contemplate, either ancient or recent, we must resort to conjecture, bolstered nevertheless by certain laws, by logic and by visible evidence.
It seems logical to assume that as and when volatile materials were being formed and expelled by heat from the igneous core, they were repelled in every direction, hence originally were of spherical shape, surrounding the core. Granting that the core and the surrounding gasses were rotating, we can understand that at the poles of the axis of rotation centrifugal force was zero, leaving heat as the only repellent force.
In proportion to recession from the poles toward the equator, centrifugal force, acting always at right angles to the axis of rotation, would increase to a maximum at the equator. This would irresistably impel materials in the direction of the equator, and alter the original spherical form of the mass into an increasingly oblatoidal, elliptical shape until all the lingering atmospheric material eventually would become but a thin disc in the plane of the equator. For amazing evidence that the foregoing analysis of physical law may be correct, one need only take his telescope and look at -Saturn. There for all to see is a remarkable, perfect example of what eventuates as the result of the forces we have just considered.
Now it would seem illogical to doubt that all the planets have evolved in the same way. They all belong to the same system, are made of the same materials and are subject to the same laws. It would be illogical to assume that, of all the planets, by some set of peculiar circumstances not common to other planets, Saturn alone developed a system of rings. Hence reason would seem to justify us in concluding with considerable confidence that at some time in the past the Earth was surrounded by rings of matter just as is Saturn today.
Of course we cannot ascertain how long it took Earth’s atmospheric mass to change from a probably spherical shape to the eventual disc form. Presumably it took eons. Nor can we tell how long it took the core to cool down. Conceivably, however, and probably, cooling eventuated first. Hence if any atmospheric matter still lingered near the poles, such matter, together with any other which lacked sufficient rotational velocity to overcome gravity, descended after heat ceased to repel it. Thus, Earth’s first shallow oceans were formed and the lowermost layers of her stratified crust were laid directly upon her Archean, igneous sills. Any remaining atmospheric matter having sufficient velocity to offset gravity must have remained aloft, no doubt until some of it at least reached disc shape in the plane of the equator.
- Oceanic Mysteries
- Other mysteries solved