Thursday, August 6, 2009


Separating the waters above the Earth from the waters under the Earth is a big job. That's why the sky is so big. It's easy to understand why people used to believe there was another sea up there past the clouds, where rain came from. The truth is even more fantastically scarier - our atmosphere is a paperthin bubble in space, especially on code orange days.

I once read a book that was set on a terraformed moon. No one could remember how everything was created, but there were huge caverns underground full of churning machines tended by stubby gnomes continually manufacturing more atmosphere as it leeched into space. Earth's size gives us enough gravity not to have to worry about the sky leaking away. Air has mass, a breathable pile of molecules 22 miles thick (unless the mountains poke through). It always looks enormous. But if Americans drove as much vertically as we do horizontally, most of us would cross into space every day through the thin traffic of clouds and jets. We all have about one atmosphere of weight on our shoulders.

Ambergris Caye, Belize

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