+
upworthy
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.

The phrase that will shut down your passive-agressive coworker.

Dealing with passive-aggressive people, whether at work or in family life, can be very frustrating. It's like trying to solve a puzzle without all the pieces. Their indirect communication and subtle digs force you to guess what they mean, turning simple conversations into a minefield.

It's draining because you're always on edge, trying to decode hidden messages or intentions, which can create a tense atmosphere. It's tough to have to go through all the extra work when you're just trying to get along and keep things smooth.

It also means that passive-aggressive people can take shots at you that you can’t defend because they hide behind the plausible deniability that they were just being helpful.

Keep ReadingShow less
All images by Rebecca Cohen, used with permission.

Here’s a thought.

Self proclaimed feminist killjoy Rebecca Cohen is a cartoonist based in Berkeley, California.

Here’s what she has to say about her role as an artist taken from her Patreon page.

Keep ReadingShow less
True

After over a thousand years of peaceful relations, European semi-superpowers Sweden and Switzerland may finally address a lingering issue between the two nations. But the problem isn’t either country’s fault. The point is that the rest of the world can’t tell them apart. They simply don’t know their kroppkakor (Swedish potato dumpling) from their birchermüesli (a Swiss breakfast dish).

This confusion on the European continent has played out in countless ways.

Swedish people who move to the United States often complain of being introduced as Swiss. The New York Stock Exchange has fallen victim to the confusion, and a French hockey team once greeted their Swiss opponents, SC Bern, by playing the Swedish National Anthem and raising the Swedish flag.

Skämtar du med mig? (“Are you kidding me?” in Swedish)

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Heartwarming comics break down complex parenting issues with ease

Lunarbaboon comics tackle huge, important subjects with an effective, lighthearted touch that you can't help but smile at.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

Writing comics helped a father struggling with anxiety and depression.

Christopher Grady, a father and teacher from Toronto, was struggling with anxiety and depression. That's when he started drawing.

He describes his early cartoons and illustrations as a journal where he'd chronicle everyday moments from his life as a husband, elementary school teacher, and father to two kids.

"I needed a positive place to focus all my thoughts and found that when I was making comics I felt a little bit better," he says.

He began putting a few of his comics online, not expecting much of a response. But he quickly learned that people were connecting with his work in a deep way.

Keep ReadingShow less
Democracy

Australia is banning entry to anyone found guilty of domestic violence anywhere in the world

"Australia has no tolerance for perpetrators of violence against women and children." 👏👏👏


Australia is sending a strong message to domestic abusers worldwide: You're not welcome here.

Australia has recently broadened a migration law to bar any person who has been convicted of domestic violence anywhere in the world from getting a visa to enter the country. American R&B singer Chris Brown and boxing star Floyd Mayweather had been banned from the country in the past, following their domestic violence convictions. Now the ban applies to all foreign visitors or residents who have been found guilty of violence against women or children.

Even convicted domestic abusers who already have visas and are living in Australia can be kicked out under the new rule. The government is using the rule, which took effect on February 28, 2019 to send a message to domestic violence perpetrators.

Keep ReadingShow less

The Preussen Munster square off against the Würzburger Kickers

As a soccer match between German teams Preussen Munster and Würzburger Kickers went into its final minutes, a defender from the Kickers, 23-year-old Leroy Kwadwo, stopped to point out a problem in the stands.

A Munster fan was making monkey noises at Kwadwo, a black player of Ghanaian descent. It was a clearly racist heckling—an issue that has publicly plagued the international sport in various venues, even as recently as last week. But this time, the response from the crowd far outshined the racist in the stands.

Keep ReadingShow less