Read With The Gringa “The Adventures of Eustace”, Part 1


Let’s start chapter 6 together of “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”, book 5 of “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis. Eustace discovers a dragon (YIKES) and treasure (WOW)!

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Image Source:  flickr.com

Life Before Oxygen


The gringa would like to share an interesting timeline of the earliest Earth events. Now, ancient history might seem boring but the gringa discovered a very peculiar fact she had never thought about before. There was life on Earth before there was even oxygen! How in the world is that possible? Well, think about it. In order for biological life as we know it to exist on Earth, oxygen must be the second most plentiful  gas in the atmosphere.  In general, the air we breathe is about:

  • 78% Nitrogen
  • 21% Oxygen
  • Less than 1% Argon
  • Less than 1% Carbon Dioxide

To create this winning oxygenated atmospheric recipe on ancient Earth, trees had to be photosynthesizing. But there was stuff living here long before there were trees! How the heck did it survive? Well, let’s look at the timeline first:

  • 4.5 billion years ago (or thereabouts) Earth comes into existence
  • 3.5 billion years ago (or thereabouts) microbes are living on Earth
  • 2.5 billion years ago (or thereabouts) sulfur-eating bacteria is living on Earth
  • 530 million years ago (or thereabouts) fish are living on Earth
  • 400 million years ago (or thereabouts) trees emerged on Earth
  • 230 million years ago (or thereabouts) dinosaurs are living on Earth

So, the gringa wants to know how the heck microbes, bacteria and fish were surviving on an Earth that had, compared to today’s atmospheric standards, a virtually zero oxygen environment. Scientists believe that early Earth’s atmosphere consisted of methane, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide and ammonia.  Earth’s earliest microbes lived in the sediments below the shallows of the planet’s oceans shorelines. They fed and breathed on the sulfur in the atmosphere.  As they absorbed sunlight for energy, they became the first life form to contribute oxygen to the atmosphere through the process of photosynthesis. But shoreline colonies of microbes could by no means contribute oxygen on the same level as vast forests. So oxygen was basically a trace atmospheric gas at this time.

Ancient bacteria ate sulfur and converted hydrogen sulfide into sulfate, which is oxidized sulfur.  Cyanobacteria, commonly called blue-green algae, began to proliferate and also performed a photosynthesis function adding oxygen to the planet’s oceans and atmosphere.

As microbes and bacteria died, they received a burial at sea. Their decomposition also contributed more oxygen to the waters. As the world’s oceans began to become more oxygenated, fish started making their appearance during the Cambrian era. They were typically invertebrate species like jellyfish, worms, crustaceans and molluscs.

Jellyfish diffuse oxygen through their cells. Giant tube worms, that still live in our oceans near underwater volcanic vents, an inhospitable environment for most carbon based life, have a special organ to convert carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide into oxygen. Today’s molluscs have a respiratory system that uses gills, just like fish.

And from these strange beginnings, it has been a slow evolutionary crawl to the world we know today. The gringa is amazed. We all owe our lives to the humble microbe and smelly sulfur. Fascinating. But where did microbes come from? Did they simply just “appear” out of thin air? Could they have originated from another planet, arriving here by accident or delivered on purpose by ancestral aliens? Let’s look at planets that had similar atmosphere’s to early Earth, which would have then naturally been a likely choice for microbes looking for a new home:

  • Venus has an atmosphere enveloped by sulfuric clouds.
  • Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus & Neptune all have methane and ammonia in their atmospheres, as does Saturn’s moon, Titan
  • Pluto has an atmosphere dominated by carbon monoxide
  • The atmosphere of Mars is 96% carbon dioxide but also has ammonia and hydrogen sulfide

So, the gringa thinks it’s possible that the ancestral microbes we humans evolved from may have originated from outer space. But, over time, a life form evolved that can never naturally survive on the planet of its origins. So much for a homecoming party!

Sources:

www.livescience.com/earliest fossils

www.space.com

forestry.about.com

www.livescience.com/dinosaurs

www.astrobio.net/early atmosphere

www.astrobio.net/oxygen

www2.astro.psu.edu

www.reference.com

www.seasky.org

mollusks.weebly.com

Image Credit:  riaus.tv

 

 

Read With The Gringa “Kehaar”, Chapt. 23’s Conclusion


Together we finish another chapter from “Watership Down” by Richard Adams. Will Kehaar succeed in his mission?

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Read With The Gringa “Kehaar”, Chapt 23, Part 2


Continue reading with the gringa another chapter from “Watership Down” by Richard Adams. Will Kehaar be friend or foe?

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Frozen Siberian Secrets


When you think of Siberia do you think of a Russian gulag or political dissidents exiled to the frozen wastelands of the Siberian tundra? If the word “secrets” crosses your mind it may be from the perspective of the kinds of secrets political prisoners might have. It probably wouldn’t occur to the average person that Siberia would be home to some amazing historical and archeological secrets. The forbidding frozen landscape of Siberia is the perfect cryogenic environment to preserve the secrets of Russia’s ancient past. Here are some of the amazing finds archaeologists have found below the permafrost:

World’s Oldest Known Wooden Statue

Shigir is twice as old as Egypt’s Great Pyramid. He may not be much to look at but imagine the story attached to this carving thought to be about 11,000 years old! Carved from the trunk of a larch tree, the religious icon stands more than 9 feet tall, although some experts think that Shigir originally stood nearly 17 feet tall. Now what kind of tools did ancient Siberians have 11,000 years ago when they chopped down the 150-year-old tree that became Shigir? What kind of tools did they use to create this idol? Not only can a face be seen but there are decorative patterns and lines that run the length of his skinny body. No one has yet solved the mystery of what Shigir worship entailed. shigir-idol-worlds-oldest-wooden-statue_3.jpg

Siberia’s Amazons

Many cultures have their own legends of female warrior culture. None more famous than the ladies from the Isle of Lesbos, Nordic Valkyries and rainforest Amazonians. Now Russian women can join the annals of fierce females. The preserved remains of a Siberian teenager was uncovered in the Altai Mountains. She wore pig-tails and had a muscular body that experts believe reveals that she was an experienced horsewoman, which also explains why nine horses were interred with her. Needing very little interpretation was the fact that she was buried with battle axes, bows with quivers of arrows and multiple shields. A sixteen-year-old Siberian girl, possibly of the legendary elite Pazyryk warriors, received an extraordinary burial fit to honor a captain of the cavalry.

a3b12c99dd495f7bdb0a5358fb28db6b.jpg

True Love

Glazkov culture was typically comprised of Mongoloid tribes during the 18-13 centuries BC. Researchers believe they were most likely a hunting and fishing tribe since their civilization centered around the headwaters of the Angara river. Birch bark boats and sophisticated composite bows and spears have been discovered.

Despite stereotypes as a fierce warrior culture, ancient Siberians were just like humans everywhere. They fell in love. A 5,000 year-old burial site excavated by archaeologists revealed an ode to ancient love,  a couple interred holding hands.  Buried by the shores of Lake Baikal, the gringa wonders if this might have been a favorite spot for romance for the two lovers. Members of the Glazhov culture, the couple had their heads facing west, towards the sunset. This was a curious find in the burial since most Glazkov remains have been discovered to be buried in a crouched position with face orientation downriver. Perhaps, for this particular couple, their favorite thing to do was sit lakeside, hand in hand, and watch the sun go down.

Siberian-Couple.jpg

Image Credits & Sources: Realm Of History

scfh.ru

Siberian Times

Daily Mail

Read With The Gringa “Kehaar”, Chapt. 23, Part 1


Join the gringa in starting another chapter of “Watership Down” by Richard Adams. What is the curious creature discovered by Bigwig and Silver?

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Image Source: www.dooyoo.co.uk

First Contact Conundrum


With so much space travel and money spent to expand capabilities, as well as governments all over the world sending out signals to who knows what kind of alien civilizations, have world governments actually thought this thing through? The gringa understands the sense of adventure and curiosity that compels humanity to explore outer space and search for other life. However, does anyone really expect us to make contact with intelligent life anytime soon? Has there been any official policy or guidelines that mankind has decided we must prescribe to? After all, if they really are searching for extra-terrestrial life, surely they are planning for all possibilities, no matter how remote.

When NASA was planning its Apollo 11 mission to the Moon, the U.S. thought ahead to the possibility of alien contact that might result in astronauts bringing back home unknown, and potentially dangerous, pathogens. This led to the adoption of a federal law commonly called the “Extra-Terrestrial Exposure Law”, Title 14, Section 1211 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Basically, if any of the astronauts (or any Earthling for that matter) came into contact with a form of biological alien life, plant or animal, they were not allowed to touch it. Even if the alien was contained within an “atmospheric envelope” (the gringa supposes this means some type of spacesuit), the astronauts or any Earthling would be forbidden to touch even this protective “envelope”.

The gringa supposes the government didn’t really take the threat too seriously, probably understanding the strong, natural impulse of humans to be curious. Violation of the law only resulted in a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and possible jail time of up to one year. After quarantine, that is. The gringa would certainly risk a year in the slammer for a chance to touch or hug a space alien. Now, however, I don’t have to worry about such measures. In 1991 NASA determined the law served no purpose any longer so it is no longer in effect.

Now, the gringa has to wonder why the law now serves no purpose. Surely it is not because strange, possibly dangerous, contaminants have simply disappeared from all corners of every galaxy. So what is it that NASA knows that makes this law pointless? The gringa can only draw one of two conclusions:

  1. NASA knows that there is no possibility for life anywhere in outer space, or,
  2. NASA knows that mankind has already made physical contact with extra-terrestrials and it was no big deal by way of biological contamination.

And since this done-away with protocol of banned contact, little else has been done to outlaw human/space alien contact. In fact, the government seems to have gone another direction entirely.

UFOlogists frequently refer to what is commonly called the “Seven Steps of Contact”. They claim that in 1950 (3 years after the Roswell UFO crash incident) the military developed protocols for first contact with extra-terrestrials. It is a seven step process that includes the following:

  1. Intelligence gathering through remote surveillance (the gringa thinks satellites, International Space Station, sophisticated long-range satellites and probes).
  2. Covert visitation for the purpose of evaluating the ETs space vehicles, technology and weapons (ISS, space travel and top-secret military bases).
  3. If human capabilities were sufficient for defense, invite ETs for visits closer to Earth to evaluate potential for any hostility (ISS and top-secret military bases).
  4. Should no hostilities arise, escalate to brief touchdowns in isolated areas for exchange of biological specimens of plants, animals and human/ETs (basically, government sanctioned abductions of animals and humans in exchange for ET animals and beings. The gringa thinks: crop circles, livestock mutilations, etc., etc.)
  5. If all goes well, begin exposing presence with low-level approaches of spacecraft that would be visible to terrestrial observers to demonstrate existence as well as establish no hostile intentions.
  6. If exposure to the public went well, escalate exposure to as many terrestrial observers as possible.
  7. When ET presence is accepted as non-hostile and not disastrous, invite open communication and meetings.

Another interesting fact to point out. Eleven years after these guidelines were established, the first reported alien abduction occurred. Betty and Barney Hill, an inter-racial couple politically active in the Civil Rights movement, claimed they were chased by a UFO in New Hampshire. Although neither one had actual memories of an abduction, only of the chase, Betty began having nightmares and some memory fragments of an abduction that began to surface. Through psychiatric help, the couple eventually recalled their alien abduction experience. But did it really happen or were the pair hoping for a bit of celebrity status and media attention to help their cause?

With no witnesses to the event, credibility solely falls upon repressed memories resurfacing through hypnosis, which, of itself, is problematic. Mental health professionals now know that it is easy to “plant” suggested “memories” into a person’s mind. Also, consider that for years afterward Betty claimed to have had hundreds of UFO sightings. However, upon investigation, avid UFOlogists who really wanted the Hill’s claims to be true realized that Betty was a bit dense, or, perhaps, near-sighted. It seems she really couldn’t tell the difference between a bright streetlamp at night or a UFO.

There is also the fact that the area of New Hampshire at the time of the supposed high-speed UFO chase was actually well-populated. Had Betty and Barney truly been careening down Route 3 with a glowing UFO hot on their tail, surely someone in one of the several towns they would have raced through would have seen something. Surely a highway patrol, sheriff’s deputy or local police officer would have seen something and given chase as well.  I mean, there were stop signs and traffic lights they would have had to have blown right  through.

So, the gringa has rabbit-trailed enough. Back to the original question. Do government’s actually have protocols for making first contact? It seems that they don’t. And, although Barney and Betty’s alien abduction story may have been a hoax, surely the many thousands that are on record in any number of countries around the world can’t all be untrue. Perhaps the reason that there is no government on Earth at all concerned with what we should do in the event of meeting ETs for the first time is because first contact has already been made and it turned out to be no big deal. Well, stranger things have happened!

Sources: www.law.cornell.edu

www.livescience.com/aliens discovered

www.livescience.com/alien abduction

Image Credit:  tvtropes.org