TNRTB Archive – Retained for reference information
A team of researchers has found more evidence of fine-tuning to sustain the plate tectonics required for advanced life. The rate of heat flow from the core to the mantle of the earth critically influences the strength and longevity of plate tectonics on Earth’s surface. A special material at the core/mantle boundary provides the proper physical and chemical characteristics to moderate the heat flow. Simulations by an international team of scientists reveal that small increases in planet size create pressures that transform this material from an insulator to a conductor, greatly increasing heat flow from the core. In turn, tectonic activity would be much larger and die out more quickly. Without fine-tuning, including a just-right planet size, the tectonic activity advanced life requires would not exist on Earth.
- Koichiro Umemoto, Renata M. Wentzcovitch, and Philip B. Allen, “Dissociation of MgSiO3 in the Cores of Gas Giants and Terrestrial Exoplanets,” Science 311 (2006): 983-86.
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