+
Most Shared

What happens when you freeze the Earth?You get the first animals.

earth historical science, environment for algae, ice age, nature
Image created from Pixabay.

Science looks at the building blocks to life on Earth.

Life on Earth is tough as nails.

From the crushing, soulless depths of the ocean to the highest reaches of the atmosphere, from boiling hot springs to Antarctic wastes — even in the radioactive heart of Chernobyl, life thrives. It finds a way. It laughs in the face of adversity.


Turns out, that amazing tenacity is kind of our birthright as Earthlings. To understand why, you've got to go back to Snowball Earth.

720 million years ago, the Earth was a pretty different place. For one thing, it was in the icy grips of something called the Cryogenian period.

ice age, environment, algae, earth freezing, science, global warming

Saturn's moon Enceladus. 720 million years ago, Earth's surface might have looked strikingly similar.

Photo from NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.

Living on Earth would have been tough. For 85 million years, the planet was locked in a grinding cycle of massive freezing and thawing. This was no mere chill. At its height, the entire planet may have been frozen over with glaciers marching over even the equator. The alternative? Greenhouse conditions caused by massive volcanic eruptions.

Sounds like a bad time to be around. And, yet, life didn't just endure. This period happens to coincide with one of life's greatest moments — the jump from single-celled bacteria and microbes to multicellular life. Plants, animals, mushrooms, just about everything you can see in your day-to-day life is a descendant of this great leap forward.

But this triumph in the face of adversity wasn't a coincidence. At least, that's what a letter published Aug. 16, 2017 in the science journal Nature says.

Life didn't just endure this cycle of ice and fire. It may have flourished because of it.

The reason, the authors say, has to do with algae. For the three billion years before, single-celled life had scrimped by on whatever energy and nutrients it could grab. There wasn't much to go around.

But things were going to change. As the glaciers marched back and forth across the surface of the planet, they acted like giant belt sanders, grinding mountain into powder — powder that was chock-full of minerals like phosphates. When the cycle flipped and the volcanoes took over, the glaciers melted and dumped all those nutrients straight into the ocean.

Where the algae could get it.

Which then spread like never before.

Which was then food for everything else. Suddenly there was plenty to go around and life began to eat. And thrive. And change. And, over time, that life made the leap from tiny, lonely microbes to the ancestors of all the multicellular life we see today.

We don't just endure hard times. They give us the fuel we need to grow.

This is just one possible explanation, but the scientists say it's backed up by evidence. Chemical signatures in the rocks show a massive algal bloom around this time. Other ideas might come in later and disprove it, of course — that's just how science goes.

But if this is true, then it just makes life on Earth that much more incredible.

Our home, from space.

Sixty-one years ago, Yuri Gagarin became the first human to make it into space and probably the first to experience what scientists now call the "overview effect." This change occurs when people see the world from far above and notice that it’s a place where “borders are invisible, where racial, religious and economic strife are nowhere to be seen.”

The overview effect makes man’s squabbles with one another seem incredibly petty and presents the planet as it truly is, one interconnected organism.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

Scientists have just discovered the ‘anxiety gene’ and what turns it off

This could completely change how we treat anxiety and depression.

A young woman struggles with anxiety.

Living with an anxiety disorder can feel like a constant battle against an invisible enemy. People with anxiety disorders feel constant, excessive worry, restlessness and irrational fears, often accompanied by physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing.

These overwhelming feelings cast a shadow over daily life and make it difficult to focus or enjoy simple pleasures. Anxiety disorders can also feel isolating, as the sufferer may struggle to communicate their feelings, making it hard to receive support and understanding.

Anxiety disorders are among the most common forms of mental illness and studies show that an estimated 31.1% of U.S. adults experience an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives. Around half of all people who suffer from anxiety disorders go into remission at some point.

Keep ReadingShow less
@allbelongco/TikTok

How bizarre, how bizarre.

It should go without saying that it’s not cool to steal from your Airbnb. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still happen.

However, when one Airbnb host recently discovered a guest had—for some strange reason—stolen one of her paintings, then replaced it with a completely different painting, she decided to make the best out of a very uncool situation by sharing the story on TikTok.

As a result, viewers got to witness an continuously unraveling, truly bizarre modern-day art heist.

Okay, let’s get into it.

Keep ReadingShow less
@abbycashman7/TikTok

From worst day to best day in less than ten seconds

Sometimes the best cure for a bad day is a good surprise.

Just ask Abbie Cashman, a woman in Ireland whose entire day was completely turned around the minute she began feeding a pet crow from the window of her taxi. Cause why not?

In an interview with Today, Cashman shared that after discovering she had a flat tire while at work, the planets seemed to align so that getting home was impossible. No taxi would take her. The bus was full. Luck did not seem to be on her side.

Cashman made one last attempt to book a taxi through a rideshare app. Finally, someone was able to pick her up.

Little did she know that the taxi driver would not only get her home, but also introduce her to a special winged friend to lift her spirits.

Keep ReadingShow less

Wedding DJ mashes up dance music and fandom theme music

There are those people who like certain franchises and those that would literally design their entire house around their particular fandom. It's a fine balance between loving something and it becoming part of who you are as a person but for some, they're totally cool with everything being Harry Potter. I may or may not have tried to convince my husband we needed an Avengers bedroom set. In my defense, they make them up to king size, so clearly they're for grown ups.

If you're one of those people like myself that has a borderline unhealthy love for all things Marvel, then you will be in for a treat and quite possibly a new wedding DJ. Dimitri Beauchamp has been mixing up tunes for wedding receptions and posting short clips on TikTok. But it's not just regular dance music, Beauchamp mixes in people's favorite franchise theme songs making the hits even more epic.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Son tells mom that he's 'scared of her' and she responds with a great lesson in parenting

'I know this might be a little shocking but I do sometimes actually find you a little scary.'

Raisingself TikTok screenshots

Son tells mom that he's scared of her and the exchange is parenting goals.

Parenting is a hard gig regardless of whether you planned to have children or they were a happy surprise. As many parenting books as there are out there, none of them have the perfect equation to get it right and most parents do the best with what they learned, or unlearned, from their own parents.

Samantha, a parenting content creator on TikTok under the name Raising Self, has been working hard to overcome generational trauma and parent her children differently. Recently she was doing a live video to interact with her followers when one of her children made a stunning revelation: he was scared of her.

You could tell by her expression that his confession was a surprise, and though her son barely took his eyes off the video game he was playing, the two had a very meaningful dialogue. Instead of being upset or even happy that her child was fearful, she responded with curiosity.

Keep ReadingShow less