Site of Earth’s oldest asteroid discovered
Should we embrace randomness? As scientists discover more evidence that we are the product of many million-to-one chances, perhaps we should embrace helplessness and celebrate the random.
Travel back in time about 2.29 billion years and our world would have been unrecognisable.
An ice age, known as the Huronian, had been taking place for some 100 million years. The entire planet was covered with a thick layer of ice.
Then a massive asteroid crashed into Earth.
By analysing soil samples from the Yarrabubba site in Western Australia, geologists have, this week, managed to confirm that it is the oldest impact site on Earth.
And they believe that a four-mile-long object hurtling down into Earth could have been enough to jolt it back into life.
Here is why. In the crash, such a huge extra-terrestrial object would have released billions of tons of water vapour into the air.
Over time, this would have warmed up the earth, helping to create the conditions which made the evolution of complex life – and eventually humans – possible.
In other words, a gigantic space rock randomly smashing into the Earth, over two billion years ago, could be a significant part of the reason we are here today.
So, should we embrace randomness more?
Luck of the draw
Yes. Without being open to randomness, we can never be truly lucky. The world is a chaotic place, but that makes the opportunities we receive all the more precious.
Probably not. Science, politics, and art are about making sense of a chaotic world. We moved away from the myths and magic of the dark ages, precisely because we wanted to rise above randomness.
- Do you think randomness is something to be afraid of or something that we should embrace?
- Keep a journal of all the events that make you either very happy or very sad, over the course of the day. Tally up how many of each type are ‘random’.
Some People Say...
“God does not play dice with the Universe.”Albert Einstein (1879-1955), German-born physicist
What do you think?
Q & A
- What do we know?
- Everything! In almost every situation, given enough information about the physical properties involved, we can predict what might happen next. If you measure a dice and calculate the different forces being applied to it, you can determine the outcome. Randomness is not something that is real, but rather something that is felt as such.
- What do we not know?
- Everything also. At the sub-atomic level, all of matter is unpredictable. In a system as complicated and as chaotic as our own Universe, we cannot ever know all of the variables. The future will always feel random to us.
- Minor planet that sometimes collides with other objects in space.
- Moving at a very high speed.
- Dark ages
- Also called the Early Middle Ages or the early medieval period of western European history (6th-9th Century), when there was no Roman emperor in the West, or around the 6th-10th Century, a time of many wars and a virtual disappearance of urban life.