Mass Extinction Wrap-Up
Welcome back from our unexpected mid-Winter break! Your know, last time it snowed this much... we entered an Ice Age and all the dinosaurs went extinct!
No, not really.
But they did go extinct during something called the K-T event (for Cretaceous-Tertiary Mass Extinction) that many scientists believe was caused by a massive asteroid impact in the Gulf of Mexico.
To be clear, it wouldn't have been the impact, itself, that killed off most of the dinosaurs. (Clearly, they weren't all huddled together inside the crater.) Nor would it have been the massive tsunami produced by such an impact (although that certainly would have reached even further distances). Instead, the massive amounts of water vapor launched into the atmosphere, combined with ash and dust from volcanic eruptions and forest fires triggered by the asteroid impact, would have combined to block out a lot of sunlight, lowering temperatures on Earth and bringing us into an Ice Age where cold-blooded reptiles struggled to survive and hairy, burrowing, warm-blooded mammals were well-suited. Check of this video below of NASA scientists trying to model the asteroid impact in the lab: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfrHoGlFLwk
So, we left off last Tuesday researching the Big 5 Mass Extinction events, including the K-T extinction, and we read that many scientists believe human beings are altering Earth's climate once again, leading to another big die-off.
Take a moment to review what we already know by completing this TED-Ed video - REMEMBER TO LOG-IN!!! - http://ed.ted.com/on/B0BccuTb
Then, pick up from last week by taking a look at this roundtable discussion among experts (attached in .PDF form, or available online athttp://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/extinction/massext/statement_02.html ). Take turns reading each expert opinion, paying close attention to their evidence and reasoning. Then, take a closer look at at least 2 student questions asked of the experts here:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/extinction/massext/discuss_01.html
Record important pieces of evidence in your notebook (which you're going to need for later), and begin considering whether you agree that the Earth is currently facing a Mass Extinction Event on par with the dinosaurs' extinction. Begin to Brainstorm and Outline a Persuasive/Argumentative Essay defending your position that will be DUE THIS FRIDAY.
Scientists suspect they may have found a distant ninth planet the size of Saturn in our very own Solar System! Just think, a neighbor we never knew was there (because it only comes around once every 15,000 years or so)!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVK2Tv209hU
But hey, maybe one day we can travel out to investigate it using the awesome new rocket technology that's being developed! A little bit ago, we saw the first ever rocket get launched into space and then LAND ITSELF, undamaged! That's a pretty huge deal! (Just think how rarely we would travel anywhere on Earth if, after each time you drove your car, your car was destroyed! It would be hugely expensive, and hardly anyone would ever drive. But, if we only had RE-USABLE vehicles... that's a game-changer! Think how often you'd drive in a car if it was just sitting there waiting for you to use it again and again!) Well, the folks at Blue Origin have done just that, completing their proof-of-concept testing. A whole new era of space exploration is now knocking on our front door!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74tyedGkoUc
There was other Science news, like, for example, a large part of the Eastern U.S. getting BURIED in massive amounts of snow. Meanwhile, the West Coast (which has been experiencing a multiple-year-long drought) is getting equally drenched in rain! What's happening? Well, part of it is due to El Nino, but many scientists suspect that climate change may be causing a bigger, more powerful El Nino than ever before... http://www.foxnews.com/weather/2015/08/14/forecasters-warn-this-winter-el-nino-could-be-historically-strong/