The Earth Experiment?

or… was life on this planet created at the request of Benjy Mouse?

photography of purple and green aurora beam below grey space satellite
Photo by NASA

Ok, that’s an odd sub-heading, but I’m sure that there are some amongst you who will get the reference. For everyone else, all will be revealed the end of this article 🙂

Watching a number of videos on YouTube recently has got me wondering whether life (or at least Human life) on this planet might actually be part of some great experiment. Now, I know that YouTube videos must, more often than not, be taken with an enormous pinch of salt, but they do make you wonder sometimes…

Take the Moon for example

There are a number of a truly staggering coincidences about the exact size and position of the Moon, and about its orbit around the Earth. For example, the Sun is approx. 400 times larger than the Moon, but the Moon is approx. 400 times closer to the Earth than the Sun. This means that we get the incredible “natural” spectacle that is the solar eclipse, where the moon exactly covers the sun, leaving only a magical, fiery halo (see these NASA and Institute of Physics pages for an explanation).

Then there is the orbit of the Moon – it is “tidal-locked”, which means that the speed of the revolution of the Moon about its axis is exactly the same as the rotation of the Moon around the Earth. In other words, the moon rotates exactly once every time it circles the Earth, which means that it always shows the same side to the Earth and never varies.

Earth-Moon
The Moon (in case you’ve never seen it)
Image by Gregory H. Revera / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

And let’s not forget the effect which the Moon has on this planet – one, which it has been argued, means that advanced life on Earth would simply not be possible without.

The Earth’s axis is tilted off of its orbital plane. Currently it’s tilted 23.5°, but over a 40,000 year cycle it wobbles between 22.1° & 24.5°. As far as planetary bodies are concerned, this is very stable and astronomers have calculated that, without the Moon, the planet’s wobble could be as much as 85°. Indeed, some suggest that the Moon itself is responsible for the tilt in the first place. Why is this important? Well, it’s the tilt of the Earth’s axis that gives us seasons. Without it, if the planet’s axis was 0° to its orbital plane, then there would be no seasons and the equator would be a scorched wasteland and the northern & southern hemispheres would be permanently covered in ice, leaving not much of the planet’s surface for life to thrive. The stable tilt also means that our seasons are stable eon-on-eon, and that they are not too extreme.

And what about tides? The Moon’s gravitational pull on the earth is strong enough to tug the oceans into a bulge. That, plus the inertia caused by the Earth’s own spin, gives us the phenomenon of the twice-daily tides. Such daily tides, it has been suggested, provided a mechanism which made the building-blocks of life possible (see article on scientificamercian.com).

Those are just a few examples of the odd-ness of the Moon, ones which are tied to the observable physics of the thing. There also exists a whole gamut of ideas that, taken together and at face value, might even suggest that the Moon is not an entirely natural object.

For example, have you heard the Moon? NASA has – when they sent men to the Moon in the early ’70s they carried out a number of experiments, including installing seismometers to measure moonquakes. When Apollo 12 deliberately crashed the Ascent Stage of its Lunar Module onto the Moon’s surface, it was claimed that the Moon rang like a bell for an hour, leading to the Hollow Moon hypothesis – yes, there is a theory that the moon is not solid, but hollow. Of course, this has been widely rebutted but there is further evidence to support this hypothesis, such as the fact that the Moon is not as dense as it should be and that the craters are not as deep as one might expect.

Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean climbs down the lunar module Intrepid, 19th November, 1969.
Image Credit: NASA

The composition of the Moon is another puzzle. Moon rocks and other samples returned to Earth by the Apollo missions have confirmed that the Moon has a far higher amount of titanium than the Earth – 10%, compared to 1% found on Earth. There are other processed materials found on the moon like mica and brass. Brass is actually an alloy which is not found naturally on Earth. There is also the presence of radioactive elements like Uranium-236 and Neptunium, which are only found on Earth as by-products of industrial activity.

And then there are the many oral traditions from ancient peoples all around the Earth, who shouldn’t have any contact with each other, which tell of “the time before the Moon was in the sky”, which lends credence to the hypothesis that the Moon might be artificial. Of course the Moon has been in the sky during the entirety of recorded history, but even as recently as the ancient Greeks and Romans stories were told which might support this. Aristotle wrote that Arcadia in Greece, before the Hellenes, was populated by a people known as the Pelasgians, and that they occupied the land “before there was a moon in the sky”. Apollonius of Rhodes mentioned the same, “when not all the orbs were yet in the heavens, before the Danai and Deukalion races came into existence, and only the Arcadians lived… before there was a moon”.

Ancient Greek Temple. Note lack of Moon!
Image from pikist.com

Obviously this is all a lot of fanciful thinking, but just consider for one moment that, if even a small portion of it is true, then the Moon might not be the natural neighbour that we consider it to be. So, if we entertain that notion, then we have to ask…

Who put it there and why?

So if the Moon is an artificial body that has a huge effect on the development of life on this planet, then for what purpose, and by whom? Well, the who part is, of course, impossible to answer unless we find a note from them explaining everything or they invite us to dinner (see below). It has been suggested by others (the “Ancient Astronaut” theorists) that alien races have been meddling in the development of the human species for their own ends – to create a slave race to mine gold for them, or to create a race of genetic hybrids for some other nefarious reason. The stories of the Anunnaki from ancient Sumeria suggest such a thing, but Sumeria only goes back to about 4,500BCE and the moon has been around for a lot longer than that.

Assorted Sumerian Gods
Some ancient Sumerian gods.
The British Museum Collections / Public domain

The fact that the moon is tidal-locked and only ever presents one face to the Earth is more interesting to my mind – if life on this planet is part of an experiment, then you would need to be able to view the Earth without fear of contaminating the process. A moon which revolved would make this more difficult as your observation posts on the surface would not have a constant view. Also, you could hide all of your infrastructure, such as space ports, etc, on the far side without fear of discovery.

Of course, in an infinite universe, anything is possible…

So who is Benjy Mouse?

Benjy Mouse and Frankie Mouse
Benjy Mouse and Frankie Mouse from the BBC TV production

Top marks if you got the reference to the book/radio programme/TV series/disappointing film that is The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams. In it, the Earth was demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass, and the main character, Arthur Dent, was one of the very last people to escape just before demolition. Benjy Mouse, along with his/her/its associate Frankie Mouse, are pan-dimensional beings who commissioned the construction of the Earth as a massive computer to find the Ultimate Question (the answer to which, as we all know, is 42) and they asked Arthur over dinner if they could purchase his brain to see if it contained the answer.

The whole business with the cheese and the squeaking is just a front. They’ve been experimenting on you, I’m afraid.

Slartibartfast (Magrathean coastline designer who won a major award for his use of fjords on the coast of Norway. His name is not important).

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