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A planet full of LIFE
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THIRD FROM THE SUN
Symbol for Earth - third planet from the Sun

A PEACEFUL planet full of LIFE

Third from the sun, that's where we are
Not too close - and not too far
A planet of life to care for and nurture
So life will continue far into the future

global warming

Mouseover images for messages.  Click on linked underlined text for more information.


Earth

Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the fifth largest.   
Find out what the Earth is made of from the Nine Ten Planets website. 

New discovery in our Solar System!

Notice the Nine has been changed to Ten (above). 
That's  because a "new" planet has been discovered in our Solar System. 
Learn more about this cold, dark planet.

 

seabird

Earth's sun radiating heat and energy

seagull

Ocean full of plant and animal life

On a hot afternoon, the atmosphere draws up
5,500 million gallons of water an hour
from the Gulf of Mexico (by evaporation).
That is some mega recycling!

"The amount of sunshine energy that hits the surface of the Earth every minute is greater than the total amount of energy that the world's human population consumes in a year!"
- U.S. Dept. of Energy
Photovoltaics Program

"Like all stars, the sun is a huge fusion reactor, pumping out 100 million times as much energy in a single second as the entire population of Earth uses in a year!"

- Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

The Sun Runs on Fusion Energy -   From Core to Corona
Layers of the Sun, The Core, Solar Envelope, Photosphere, Chromosphere, Sunspots, Corona, Solar Flares, Prominences, Solar Wind,  illustrations and pictures of the sun taken by x-ray.

 

 

Do you know why ocean water levels are higher
around and above underwater mountains and undersea volcanos ?

Nope!

And the answer is . . . 
because these high massive underwater land formations have strong gravity forces,
this pulls more water molecules to them, causing the water level to rise.

 


What is the largest structure on earth created by a living thing?

Did you guess a tall skyscraper or a battleship?  No, it is a coral reef - Australia's Great Barrier Reef, which is 1,250 miles long (that is as long as half-way across the United States).  A coral reef is made up of the hardened skeletons of tiny coral animals called polyps (related to the jellyfish), and billions of living polyps of many beautiful colors. Coral reefs are very important to sealife, providing shelter and food for hundreds of species of living coral animals, many birds, over 1,000 species of fish, mollusks (such as clams and mussels), and crustaceans (such as crabs), and other sealife.  Reefs are formed mostly in warm waters and where sunlight can penetrate. Barrier reefs help protect shorelines from sea wave damage by providing a barrier.  Coral reefs are being damaged and dying from harmful human activities.  The deteriorating condition of coral reefs is causing great environmental concern. Protection is being provided to try and bring life back to the reefs.
Just think - tiny animals, most of which are less than one inch, some the size of pinheads, can build the largest structure on Earth!

Click on this fish to help it find a coral reef
Click on this fish and help it find a CORAL REEF


What is the basis of all marine (sea) food chains?

Algae.  There are more than 25,000 species of algae, all of which contain chlorophyll.
The tiniest algae are single-celled, and are so tiny that millions can exist unseen in a gallon of water.  Algae release oxygen, which animals and humans need to survive.
Of the largest algae are the giant Kelp, seaweed which can reach 200 feet in length, some being able to grow 150 ft in just one year!   There are underwater forests of seaweed in the ocean that provide homes and food for sealife.
Besides sustaining sealife as a food source, many products have been developed from algae, including: foods, antibiotics, soaps, adhesives, gels, and abrasives used in polishing.

Save water - don't run it while you're brushing

(such as toothpaste)

 

Did you know that one of your favorite foods is probably Kelp seaweed with chocolate sauce on it?

You've GOT to be kidding!
31 flavors of Kelp??

You don't believe it?  If you look up "seaweed" in your encyclopedia, it will tell you that Kelp is full of vitamins and minerals, but its primary value is as a source of algin, which is used to thicken ice cream and other products.  You do like chocolate sauce on your ice cream, don't you?

 

We need to come up for air after that one!  Speaking of air - 
Have you ever wondered where the oxygen
in our atmosphere originally came from?

4.5 billion years ago when Earth was born,
there was no oxygen in the atmosphere,
and no life on Earth as we know it today. 

Then about 3.5 billion years ago a bacteria, known as cyanobacteria, evolved which became quite widespread by the Proterozoic period (544 million to 2.5 billion years ago). 
Around the middle of the Proterozoic period oxygen began to build up in the atmosphere
from the photosynthetic activity of this bacteria.  Before this time, the atmosphere did not support life.
The other great contribution of the cyanobacteria is the origin of plants.
Cyanobacteria are the oldest known fossils on record - and they are still around today!
Learn more about these Architects of the Earth's Atmosphere
(Introduction to the Cyanobacteria, UCMP)

 

How thick is the layer of Earth's atmosphere?


If Earth were the size of an apple, the atmosphere would be no thicker than the apple skin!

So a very thin layer of atmosphere provides our life support system and protects us from harmful radiation.   Approximately 110,000 million tons of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere each year from burning around 5,500 million tons of fossil fuels.  That is too much for our fragile atmosphere to handle.  We need our forest ecosystems to absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen.  And we must stop burning fossil fuels and find alternative sources of energy that are not harmful to the environment and our atmosphere.

Read about the 5-part composition of Earth, consisting of the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the lithospere, mantle and core.  That thin layer of atmosphere, for instance, is more than 700 miles thick, with most of its mass concentrated in the lower 3 miles surrounding Earth. (Encarta)

NOW WHAT?

Earth adapting to humans!
 


The Day the Earth Got Skinnier!

What happened on December 26, 2004 that changed the shape of our planet?

Catastrophic event on December 26, 2004

 
Cow-a-bunga!

BELCHING BOVINES

 

A global menace !


Global Menace?  Who, Me?
click to get the facts on this
dangerous beast

 

Is there a place on the planet where no rain has ever fallen?

Yes.  The driest place on Earth is Chile's Atacama Desert.
It had no rain for approximately 400 years up until 1971.
In some parts of this wasteland rain has never fallen.

 

Humans are moving the Earth!

So many canals, dams and reservoirs have been constructed over the last 100 years that this  redistribution of freshwater from one place to another has resulted in a small change in the wobble of the Earth as it spins. (Scientific American - Safeguarding our Water)


cough, cough

Burning a 100 watt light bulb for one hour, with electricity that came from burning fossil fuels, causes 0.1 kilogram of carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere.


Turn lights out when not in use

So remember to turn the lights out when you are not needing them
and you will be saving natural resources and helping the environment.

 

 


WETLANDS

Swamps, bogs, fens and marshes are wetlands
where water remains near the surface or above the surface of the land
all or most of the year.

How should wetlands be changed to make them more useful?

click on this frog to learn about wetlands
Click on this amphibian for the answer;
and yes, you are going to have to do some reading.

 
Did "yew" know that clear-cutting loggers used to trash the Pacific Yew trees in the old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest?
They considered them worthless - until scientists discovered that Taxol in the bark of the Pacific Yew was effective in containing growth of cancer cells.

 Taxol and the Pacific Yew tree have saved many lives since then. 

Just think...these trees were once wasted.  What if they had become extinct before discovering their importance in medicine?
 Imagine all the things we will never discover because so many plants, trees, organisms and animals are becoming extinct every day somewhere in the world.
 

LIVING ICE CUBES!  

When winter comes in the northern zones, the hibernators can't turn up the heat
so they have devised some incredible methods of survival through the ages.

Some freeze "as hard as hockey pucks."

Do you think any living thing can survive as an ice cube?
(
click here but don't try this at home!)

Imagine a species that can freeze "solid as a rock" for months, 
and then thaw out and go on happily about its business. 


Scientists are studying this amazing phenomenon in hopes that
this process will lead to discoveries that will save many lives. 
Learn more about these hibernators
 

The Earth is 8,000 miles in diameter
moving through space at
approximately 12.5 miles per second,
or 45,000 miles per hour

as it orbits
938,900,000 km (583,400,000 miles)
around the sun at about
106,000 km/h (about 66,000 mph).

At these speeds, why don't we fly off the Earth into space?
What keeps us "attached" to this speeding, rotating planet?

At the center of the Earth is a giant rotating iron ball
which is about 1,500 miles in diameter
(almost as large as the Moon,
and about the temperature of the surface of the Sun).

This spinning solid iron inner core is surrounded by
an outer core of swirling liquid iron alloy.
Interactions between the inner core and the outer core
generate the Earth's magnetic field.


Graphic credit:  Gary A. Glatzmaier,
Professor of Earth Sciences, Univ. of California, Santa Cruz
 

What does a submarine have in common with a seashell?

The Chambered Nautilus has a spiral shell which is divided into chambers, each one larger than the one before.  The nautilus (soft-bodied mollusk) that lives inside fills the chambers with gases to rise in the water and reabsorbs the gases to sink.

A submarine has compartments (tanks) which are filled with water to dive, and emptied of water to rise.  The first nuclear-powered submarine was named "Nautilus" and was the first submarine to sail under the ice at the North Pole (1958).  Submarines are used to explore the ocean and do scientific research.

ssss

HERE ARE A FEW EXTREMES OF LIFE ON OUR PLANET

There is a bloom that has been known to grow 
as big as the state of New Jersey!

When certain conditions exist and an overabundance of nutrients or pollution exist in water, such as in lakes, estuaries and the ocean, an outbreak of plant growth can occur known as an algae bloom.  The largest one ever measured occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, near the mouth of the Mississippi River.  Algae blooms can cause major environmental damage and kill great numbers of fish.  Read more about it on our Oceans page.
Extreme plant growth can cause extreme environmental damage


What's all the flap about?
An Extremely long migration!
The Arctic Terns hold the world record for the longest migration of any bird.
They spend half the year in the Antarctic, and breed in the Arctic during the summer months.
 


The Bee Hummingbird is the smallest of all birds

It grows to only 2 inches!
(5 centimeters) long
That's extremely small for a bird

Hummingbirds can hover and fly straight up like helicopters
 


An Extremely Long  Nap!
An endospore is a unique resting cell produced by some bacteria.
Some endospores that have been preserved in amber have remained dormant (inactive) for 25 million years - and then come back to life when extricated and introduced into a favorable environment!

Major Groups of Prokaryotes
 


An Extremely Large Species
What currently living species has

a heart
 the size of a small car

a tongue
as heavy as an elephant

?
click here to learn more about this endangered species


GIANT SQUID

First-ever observations of a live giant squid in the wild
 


You don't have to be big to be important

Scientists are studying Earth from space to learn about the cycle of life and how our Earth functions.  Although these are big, huge complicated subjects -  surprisingly, the star performer in mapping and monitoring of the carbon cycle is a tiny single celled organism...vast, drifting fields of them...called phytoplankton.


(click on image to enlarge)

Find out more about it in "Colors of Life" on our Great Links page
(see The Biological Engine of our Living Planet).


 

Have you tired of your fish hobby, your pet turtle or frog, and the plants that you had growing in their little habitats within your home?  Or do you feel sorry for them and want them to be free and returned to nature?  How about your pet gorilla - has he gotten too big and now he's taking over?  You think you'll be doing them a favor by setting them free? 

DO NOT release these creatures or their special plants into the outdoor environment
(especially the gorilla!).

Learn how invasive non-native species can harm the environment.  Also, your pet may not live through the day once released into what might be an inhospitable environment for that species. 

Find out more:
Invasive Non-Native Species
 

 

What sea creature has a donut-shaped brain
through which all its food has to pass?
I'm such a Brain!

I am VERY nervous!
Click on this fish
It looks nervous!

Did you know that the ocean waters are less salty near the equator?

No

Dive into our Ocean page and
learn more about our Water Planet - The Blue Planet.
Ocean Home

And be sure and visit Coral Communities, Wetlands and WaterWebs


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LIVING ICE CUBES?!?
DONUT-SHAPED BRAINS!?!
 
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