04. Earth: Events

What is an event?  Maybe it’s just a thing that happens, especially one of significance.  But significant for what or for whom?  From what goes on inside your guts to events that happen over a period of millions or billions of years, how ‘on Earth’ can we present some of the most important events?  It’s hard, but we will do our best to show you some interesting ones.

Shapes and Vibrations:

Take rain, for instance.  When it rains, many people take their umbrellas with them when they go outside, and for most people, a rainy day is a lousy one.  But what many may not realize is that this event is unique to Earth.  Aliens from far away planets may not be able to even imagine experiencing such an event.  The only other world we know where it ‘rains’, similar to Earth, is one of Saturn’s moons, Titan.  It does not rain water there, however, but liquid methane.  Thus, on Titan, there are methane lakes and rivers, methane clouds and rain and, who knows, maybe even some kinds of creatures living in this methane-rich environment.

Back on Earth, in order for us to experience this ‘mundane’ thing such as rain, a huge amount of unique events must occur: from the Earth’s position relative to the Sun and the Moon, to the many creatures on Earth and the landscapes found on this planet, and it’s overall temperature.  I heard many times in school how water evaporates, forms clouds, and then rains back down, but that explanation is overly simplified, as many may not realize that it’s all due to structures and vibrations.  We will try to explain this phenomena first, in a way that is far more explanatory.  Then we’ll will build upon that and show you some interesting facts behind any kind of ‘event’.

Water: rivers, oceans, snow, rain, ice, vapor, the liquid in your water cup, or in your body.

We call all of these ‘things’ water, because everything in this world is composed of atoms, unique combinations of atoms form molecules, and molecules form the ‘stuff’ that we see (matter).  Atoms are very, very small ‘objects’ that are basically composed of 2 main parts: a center and something orbiting that center.  It is similar to a solar system in a way.  In the center, there are 2 important parts, a neutron and proton.  For this article’s purpose, we do not need to go deeper into what these protons and neutrons are, but keep in mind that the number of those 2 things in the core, and the number of things that orbit around them (electrons), create the different types of atoms that we know.  In one particular case, there is only 1 proton (no neutrons) and 1 electron.  Its very simple structure is the most abundant element in the Universe and we call it ‘hydrogen’.  8 protons, 8 neutrons and 8 electrons form another elemental structure that we call ‘oxygen’.  And so on…  Different combinations of these 3 things, protons, neutrons and electrons, create different ‘flavors’ of atoms.

The most mind blowing part of this is the way that these various flavors of atoms combine with each other, creating all the matter in the universe: mountains, guts, saliva, salt, legs, clouds, cells, chairs, rocks, mustaches, laptops…  They are like lego pieces with the way they assemble, creating different molecular structures with different properties.

One atom of oxygen and two atoms of hydrogen form what we call a ‘molecule’ of water.  Thus, basically 2 types of atoms ‘combine forces’ to create the water molecule.  Now, imagine this molecule, and multiply it by a trillion, or a quadrillion, and you get the water that we know.  They are basically tiny structures that, in bulk, we interpret (see and feel) as one thing, water in this case.

Indeed there are more water molecules in a single glass of water than there are glassfuls of water in the entire ocean.(source)  Think about that!

So how can the same molecule be the building block of ice, water, or steam, when they all look and feel so different to us?  Not only is it mind blowing that that the world we know is basically formed of microscopic ‘lego pieces’, that assemble into different forms to create everything we know, but it’s also really fascinating the way that these lego pieces vibrate to give different properties to the things we know.  If water molecules vibrate within a certain range of frequencies, they form liquid water as they keep a somewhat loose bond between them (they are connected, but not very tightly).  As their vibration slows down, they become more structured and form what we tend to call ‘ice’ (their bond is much stronger).  On the other hand, if they vibrate a lot, the bonds between these molecules of water break down and the molecules remain mainly ‘alone’.  Because individual molecules of water are lighter than the air around them, they rise up and we call that ‘water vapor’.

To understand this better, when you boil water, you are transferring energy to the water molecules.  They eventually vibrate so much that many of them start to lose their bonds and become individual molecules, which we then see as vapor rising out of the pot.  I hope you get the picture, as it is all about this ‘vibration’.

In fact, there is no such thing as ‘cold’.  There are only vibrations of atoms and molecules (we interpret less vibrations as cold, and more vibrations as ‘hot’).  When you go outside and feel cold, what happens is that the atoms from your own body interact with the atoms/molecules from outside, and those from outside vibrate less (that’s why is colder), thus your atoms and molecules become more in sync with the outside ones, and the loss of vibration of your body’s molecules feels ‘cold’ to you.  When you touch a hot piece of metal and feel heat (burned), the faster vibrating state of the atoms that make up that metal quickly transfer to the atoms of your own hand and they begin to vibrate in the same way as the atoms from the hot metal.  This is why if you hit a metal bar with a hammer, both will get ‘hotter’, simply because you are ‘agitating’ the molecules of both of them.  What you feel, in common terms of ‘hot’ or ‘cold’, is just an exchange of vibrations between your atoms and molecules, and other atoms and molecules.

With all of that in mind: when the Sun’s rays or any other kind of heat source (energy) transfers into water, it makes the water molecules vibrate more and more, eventually losing their bonds and rising up into the atmosphere.  This is how clouds are formed.  These molecules then react to the colder environment up there and start to vibrate less, thus allowing new bonds to form between them.  As millions of such bonds happen around the same place, a rain drop begins to form, and once that raindrop becomes heavy enough, it falls back to the Earth due to gravity.  And that’s the amazing process of how lego-like ‘things’ give rise to a series of events, basically bonding with each other, then loosing the bonds, rising up in the atmosphere, making bonds again, and falling down.

Thus, the difference between liquid water, ice and vapor is all in how strong (if at all) the water molecules bond with each other, and this bond is dependent of the vibration state of the molecules.(source)

The seasons that we experience here on Earth are basically a bunch of these tiny reactions of the lego-like atoms and molecules that bind and vibrate, while the ‘rhythms’ and shapes of their interactions create not only events here on Earth, but throughout the entire known universe.

The shape of things, especially molecules, is so important that even when you take medicine, you are basically ingesting specific molecular forms (atoms clustered together in a particular way) that are specifically designed (shaped) to merge/combine with other ‘things’ in your body, just like lego pieces.  The ‘bad’ stuff in your body (viruses, unhealthy bacteria, etc.) are basically like keys that can open ‘doors’ in your body and trigger harmful effects for you, while medicines are basically specifically designed shapes (molecules of atoms) that will bond to these keys, making them no longer able to access those ‘doors’.



Made up of tiny molecules that have a particular shape

The ‘bad’ stuff in your body that unlocks ‘doors’ and makes you sick

The molecule combines with the ‘bad’ stuff and changes its shape

Isn’t it fascinating that it’s all about shapes and vibrations?

When Quindecillions React:

Quindecillion is a huge number and, on a chart where the more well known billion and million are, the quindecillion is quite far down on the list.  I chose the number almost at random, as it is impossible to count the massive number of molecules that form tornadoes, storms, hurricanes, or even waterfalls and rivers that we are going to showcase as events.

When large numbers of molecules and atoms move together in a rhythm that we humans can observe and quantify, we call them rivers, hurricanes, storms, etc.

Water not only falls from the sky (as water droplets or ice/snow), but it also flows, but not always on the surface of the Earth (land), but even beneath the water surface, within the water.  In 2010, such a river was discovered in the Black Sea – a river within a sea.  This river was found to contain features typical of surface rivers, such as river banks, floodplains, waterfalls and rapids.  It flows at a speed of 6.4 km (4 miles) per hour and, if it were on land, it would be the 6th largest river in the world.(source)

Photos: Cenote Angelita – A similar underwater river, or ‘water current’ – http://petapixel.com/2013/08/27/mesmerizing-photos-of-cenote-angelita-an-underwater-river/

Vortexes, like tornadoes or hurricanes, do not only happen on land, but as in the case of the underwater river, they happen beneath the water as well.  A maelstrom is a powerful vortex that is created by water currents, tsunamis or sinkholes.  This video shows a giant maelstrom that formed after the 2011 Japan tsunami.  And this video showcases maelstroms that are caused by water currents.

A storm can also be dry – made out of dust and/or sand.  These storms can grow up to 1.6 km (0.99 miles) high; so massive that they can be seen from space.  Dust storms are essential for rainforests like the Amazon in delivering nutrients.  Just imagine that dust from Sahara travels all the way to the Amazon forest.(source)


Also, the effects of a storm on the surface of the Sun can be experienced here on Earth, when the storm’s wind (the solar wind) reaches us.  Tiny particles (mainly protons and electrons) interact with the Earth’s atmosphere and create (for us) surreal lights in the sky.(source)

Sometimes within ‘normal’ storms, dust storms, forest fires, tornadoes, or volcanic eruptions, the quindecillion of tiny particles get ‘overcharged’ by friction and produce what we see as lightning.  On average, 40-50 lightning events happen every second around the planet’s surface.  However the strikes are not equally distributed, as seen on this map.

Lightning is 5 times hotter than the surface of the Sun and, ‘ironically’ in a way, it’s ultimately powered by the Sun’s energy, as the Sun provides energy to the Earth (it makes the Earth’s atoms and molecules vibrate).(source 1, 2)

But lightning also has multiple types.  There can be downward strikes, horizontal strikes, upward strikes, and even electrical discharges in the form of a sphere, such a rare phenomenon that the first and only video capturing such a strike was recorded by mistake in 2012.  This ‘lightning ball’ was 5 meters (16.4 feet) wide and traveled 15 meters (50 feet) horizontally in 1.5 seconds.(source)

Understanding quindecillions of reactions requires the most powerful computers on Earth, as the reactions are so dynamic and innumerable that it seems impossible to ever understand, with great precision, the events they create.  However, humans are continually understanding more and more of these phenomenons created by the tiniest of things on Earth, thus allowing science to, for example, better predict weather, while pushing the incentive for building better equipment for detection and prevention, coupled with the need to develop greater and greater computational power.

When Many, Millions, and Billions React:

From those tiny atoms and molecules, we’ll now migrate to large creatures and some of the most amazing of their total-environment responses.  When it comes to mass migrations of creatures, one word has been used to describe these events more than any other: instinct.  Unfortunately, the word instinct tells you nothing about the mechanisms behind these migrations.  It needs to be understood that when it comes to such migrations, they are the result of many series of events and environmental reactions that make it extremely hard to properly understand them.  That is not to say that we should use a word without meaning to replace the unknown, but rather to seek more complete understanding.

This is a living sphere of sardines.  Banks of sardines can be up to 7 km (4.3 miles) long, 1.5 km (0.8 miles) wide and 30 metres (98 feet) deep.  Billions of them take months to migrate over 1000 km (620 miles), every year, driven, it seems, by the water’s temperature, in what results in the greatest ‘feast’ on the planet.  Due to the presence of billions of sardines in one place, thousands of dolphins, hundreds of sharks, many whales and seals, and even birds flocking to enter the water like rockets from the sky, all converge in a creature feeding frenzy.(source)


Sea turtles annually migrate for hundreds or thousands of km/miles and eventually return to the same location where they were born to lay their eggs, which is amazing.  It is thought that the Earth’s magnetic field helps the turtles return to the same place where they started as ‘babies’.  Another interesting aspect is that after they hatch, when they start their migration, it has been shown that the slope of the beach, the white crests of the waves, and the natural light of the ocean’s horizon makes them go towards the water, but when they hatch on a beach near a city at night, the turtles often go towards the city, because they are attracted to the lights. Thus, a turtle does not ‘know’ that it needs to start this magnificent journey through the ocean.  It is just reacting to existing stimuli.

Humpback whales migrate over half of the circumference of the Earth (25 000 km – or around 15 500 miles), each year, influenced by climate changes, water temperature, oceanic depth, salinity, topography of the seafloor, and the biggest one, abundance of food.  Their speed is around 4.8 km (3 miles) per hour, so imagine yourself, traveling more than half the globe, on foot, every year.

Monarch butterflies undergo one of the most amazing migrations on the planet.  Although they are tiny, they travel thousands of km (or miles).  The way they do it is quite unique, because no individual butterfly can possibly complete the journey.  Instead, millions of them travel for a certain distance, lay eggs, and then die, while their baby butterflies then continue the journey.  Four generations of these butterflies travel almost the entire North America back and forth each year.  It’s unclear exactly what drives this migration, but hypotheses suggest that the butterflies may be influenced by the Sun, certain chemicals, landscapes, or Earth’s magnetic field.

From insects to wildebeests, enormous migrations occur all over the earth, triggered by the tiny particles that create the atmosphere and various scents, dictate temperature, and more.


Other characteristics of creature kingdom events include the various behaviors that they exhibit and the amazing transformations that some of them experience.

Another migration event, similar to the monarch butterflies, happens with dragonflies, where again, it takes four generations for them to travel across many thousands of km (miles) each year.  A very interesting aspect of dragonflies is that most of their life is spent in water, in a fish-like state, where they hunt other creatures using their extendable jaws.  Some can even hunt on land.  After five years or so, they emerge from the water, transforming into a flying insect.  One question to consider might be: How can the neurons that act as this creature’s ‘brain’ adapt so readily to such different environments and movements?

Does this look like a fly to you?  This bug lives beneath the water and similar to the dragonfly, it transform into a fly after 1-3 years.  In fact, billions of such flies emerge from the water almost at once.  The fantastic thing about them is that they only live for a day or so.  They don’t have a functional stomach, so they basically hatch, mate, and then die once they run out of energy.



Everything is Energy Flow:

If you think about that fly, it died because it had no energy.  Well, how true is that?  If you burn that fly, it will burn, meaning it will emanate energy.  Even the dead body of a fly still contains energy potential (almost the same amount as a living one), but just not enough to keep it alive.  Once you burn that fly, it does not mean that you have eliminated the energy, but instead have distributed it.  Meaning, the atoms that were once that fly, can become part of your food, or atoms of other creatures, or mountains, water, or other planets or stars.

What is amazing about the world we live in is that there is the same amount of energy in the Universe as there was 100 million years ago, or at the beginning of the universe, and it will always remain the same.

When you plug in an electric toy, or run it on batteries, it ‘works’ because it has an energy source, and thus an energy flow powering its components.  The same thing occurs with water movement, storms, butterflies, wildebeests, and indeed, us.

The Sun’s rays strike the Earth and plants convert it into chemicals (stored energy).  Plants get consumed by animals and provide energy and tissue (again stored energy) for the animal.  We then eat both plants and animals to get the energy needed to pedal our bikes up a hill.  Thus, that energy moved from the Sun, to the plant, through the animal, into you and then became available to the bike’s mechanics.  It was essentially dispersed into organic matter, heat and movement (all of them, as the movement of atoms).

So that’s how various events take place here, on Earth, as well as anywhere in the Universe.

The next time that it rains, you see other creatures, you feel warm or cold, or even just think about yourself, remember that we are all made up of lego-like pieces, through which energy flows and animates.  In that sense, we are certainly all one, since, in that sense, we are all energy.


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