Scientists have been mulling over for years how the Earth began and yet no one is close to finding out the answer, even if it's already 2015. Researchers have turned up bits and pieces over time and scientists have done what they can to piece together information, trying to figure out an answer that makes sense.
In a study published in the journal Nature, Bernard Wood and Anke Wohlers put forward that the Earth, during its infancy, swallowed a Mercury-like planet, resulting in the layers that make up the planet as well as its magnetic field.
The Earth was traditionally believed to have been formed when space debris clumped together, over time gathering enough mass to create the planet. However, a study comparing rocks on Earth and from space discovered that there was a discrepancy in mineral content. This shouldn't be the case if space debris was responsible for forming Earth.
Taking into consideration the results of that previous study, Wood explored possibilities surrounding the Earth during its youth, like what if the planet looked more like Mercury? To see what would happen if it was so, Wood gathered elements and added sulfur to mimic how a primitive Earth would be like and introduced extreme heat and pressure to simulate conditions in space. This resulted in a proto-world showing neodymium, an element, buried deep within its layers, deposited in the fake core of the fake Earth.
Another possibility is that the Earth grew from a kernel rich in sulfur. Either way, the presence of sulfur explains the creation of the planet's magnetic field, which was believed to have developed when sulfur drew thorium and uranium to the Earth's core. The radioactive elements produced heat that churn the core's outer portion, the movement of which results in currents that generate the magnetic field.
The magnetic field is important because without it, nothing would be able to protect the Earth's surface from high-energy particles being produced by the sun.
Wood will be strengthening his case by scouring the periodic table for other elements possessing remarkable but mysterious abundances that may be explained by the addition of sulfur to the primordial mix.
A lot of origin stories have already been put out, each story offering its own take on how the Earth came to be. With so many stories around, it's not unusual for skeptics to shoot down new ideas, so Wood will have to work hard proving the merits of their study.
Photo: NASA, JD Hancock | Flickr