I recently obtained a box full of science documentaries and lectures. As someone with a curious interest in most science, I thought it would be wild so smoke a bowl and watch one. The DVDs were free from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in a recent giveaway (check this page to see if the giveaway is still on!)
After watching it I realized learning about science while you’re high is totally different. Everything is so cool. After finishing the video, I decided to spread the word to my fellow Weedists who share my fascination with science.
The video, “The Day the Mesozoic Died,” discusses how scientists figured out how the dinosaurs met their end: the Chicxulub meteor colliding with earth. Mesozoic refers to the era that contains the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods.
The three main things in the video that blew my mind were the K-T boundary, what life was like before and after, and the sheer destruction caused by the meteor.
The KT Boundary
Across the world there are formations and erosions in rock that allow scientists to see back in time. By studying and running tests on the rock, they can glean certain facts, much like you can by studying the rings in a tree trunk. Scientists would examine layers of rock that had gradually pushed or had been pushed to the surface, using carbon dating and other sophisticated dating techniques that allowed them to make observations as to what time period the layer represents and what life was like during that time.
The interesting thing was, in sediment layers from around the world scientists found a thin dark line that dated back 65 million years ago. This thin layer was found everywhere in the world. Up to this layer, the rock would look the same, then after the dark line, it looked completely different. This line came to be known as the K-T boundary, the “K” standing for the Cretaceous period and the “T” for the Tertiary period. It marked the end of one period and the beginning of another.
While watching this I was thinking “Oh shit! This is crazy” because it was the first time I had seen the straight-up evidence we have. These scientists were reading rock layers like they were books, man. Here was plain evidence of a catastrophic change in the world that essentially rebooted life on planet earth. It was tight.
Before and After
By comparing the fossils of organisms from above the line with those below it, archaeologists were able to get an idea of what survived, how life was changed for the survivors, and how the earth was changed. One discovery was the evidence of a high diversity of plant species below the KT boundary. However, above the boundary, roughly 60% of that diversity is gone.
Again, I leaned back and was like “No way man!” I couldn’t help but feel regret and wonder what kinds of plants were lost. What did they look like? What were their properties? Thankfully, even though most plant species were lost, somewhere in there the ancient ancestors of cannabis had survived.
Until watching this video, I had never truly realized the magnitude of destruction caused by the Chicxulub meteor. It struck earth with 100 million megatons of force; the impact was so violent that it caused millions of tons of rock and debris to fly up into the atmosphere. After a while the debris would rain down like hellfire from above.
Ash and sulfur released from the explosion blotted out the sun for years, spelling certain doom for anything that depended on photosynthesis, and thus causing food chains to collapse. This cloud covered the entire planet, much like he one in the Matrix movies. The impact also would have caused mega tsunamis over 100 meters tall that would cross the sea like a jet, ripping up the sea floor.
While watching this I couldn’t help but think “DAMN this is so BRUUTAAAALL.” The meteor impact was 50,000,000 times larger than the nuclear bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima.
In the movies you see many different kinds of catastrophes and doomsday scenarios, but this actually happened. Of course, the fact that I had just smoked a bowl played a large part in my being astounded.
The ancient time periods are interesting to me because they are so mysterious and hard to comprehend. After finishing the video I reaffirmed that science is pretty pimp, and that I would watch the other films and share some more of the crazy things we know and can do with science.