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Volume 3354

By Rick Johnson


Stellar evolution is very well understood.

Thirteen trillion years ago, more or less, there was the Big Bang.   We'll ignore what came before and what will come in the distant future as these events are currently irrelevant, though very interesting.

But energy was released!  Energy formed into quanta and quanta into sub-atomic particles which formed into atoms, mostly Hydrogen.  (note that I am being VERY simplistic here for the audience, most of whom are not astronomers)

These Hydrogen atoms collected into clouds which collapsed into balls under the pressures of gravity.

If the ball was large enough, the pressure of gravity forced the internal temperature to rise with the depth of the compression.

If the ball of Hydrogen was large enough, the internal temperature rose into the millions of degrees and suddenly! Nuclear Fusion took place.  That ball of Hydrogen became a gigantic Hydrogen Bomb… a Star was born.

As the Hydrogen burned, it created a waste product.. Helium!  Some of which sank to the center of the star.

If the star was large enough, the internal pressure caused by gravity caused the temperature to rise enough to burn Helium and you now have a Helium Bomb inside the Hydrogen Bomb that is the star.  And when Helium burns, it produces Lithium.

You get the idea so we'll skip the next few steps.  Check the periodic Chart of the Elements to see how this goes.  Each element creating a heavier element as a by-product of Nuclear Fusion.

If the star is large enough and lives long enough, the Iron that is now in the center burns.  But Iron doesn't burn like Hydrogen or Helium, it burns like a firecracker and that very large star becomes a Super-Nova!

And when a Super-Nova explodes, matter is ripped apart and reformed.  Heavy elements are created from lighter. Lead, Gold, Silicon, Uranium, Quasimodium.  Ok, I made that last one up but of the hundred and dozen known elements, more are being created almost yearly someone, someday will create/discover a new element that they will call Quasimodium because of its properties and I'll get no credit.  The point is that these hydrogen clouds are now filled with more than just hydrogen.

Eventually, in the less fashionable spiral arm of the Milky Way Galaxy, a star formed.

As stars go it wasn't remarkable. It had an average mass and formed in the normal way.  A passing stellar object or maybe a Galactic Gravity Wave caused a cloud of mostly-Hydrogen-with-a-lot-of-other-elements to swirl and then form into a ball which collapsed under gravity.  As that ball spun, the heavier elements were tossed outward into a disc while the central part turned into a star!

The disc did its own thing.  Atoms collected and attracted other nearby atoms until something resembling the Rings of Saturn formed about this Star that hadn't yet finished starting a nuclear reaction.  As these balls of matter traveled, they picked up everything in their path, then attracted nearby matter until planets formed (we are still skipping steps because I don't want to bore you but if you insist I can expand this part to a dozen pages that reads like Dos for Dummies).

Then the Star erupted in a massive Hydrogen Explosion that cased a pressure wave that cleared out almost everything that wasn't too heavy to push.  The results were a number of planets and a bunch of moons. Some formed with the planets, some stolen from other places.

Now here is where it gets interesting.  Life!


Life can be created from a number of materials in a number of ways.  Hydrogen life requires cold empty space.  Helium Life requires a temperature of almost absolute Zero but a planetary surface!  (It's kinda neat to fill a bottle with helium then drop the temperature to -273 degrees and watch that helium come to life)  Silicon life and Carbon life are common but each form of life requires a different circumstance.  The atmosphere of Jupiter is perfect for Silicon Life but not carbon life, as is the subsurface of Earth which is inhabited by myriads of species of silicon life.  I have some in my house if you are interested and found a breeding colony of silicon life in an isolated bay on Canyon Lake in Arizona.  But I digress.

But Carbon forms life only under certain conditions.  And for a star the size of Sol, those conditions exist only around 90 million miles out.  Give or take 10%.  Too close to the Star and the temperature is too hot for carbon to form living molecules.  Too far out and the temperature is too cold to form living molecules.  So you need a planet about 90m miles from a Sol-sized star to form carbon-based life.

And not just any planet, a stony-iron planet!  Were Jupiter in the position of Earth, life, silicon or carbon, would never form.  So Earth got lucky.  A stony-iron world at the right distance from the right-sized star to be at the right temperature.. and about 4.5 billion years ago, Earth formed.  About a billion years later, carbon-based life appeared.

Early life was basically red-algae and green-algae and both happily coexisted… until they met and war ensued.

This was not organized warfare with algae-created weapons… no, it was simply a matter of which algae found the best food so it could reproduce faster than the other.  On Earth, Green-Algae won so life here is based on Green  Algae!

And you know the rest! Evolution spawned DNA which recombined into microbes and fish and lizards and dinosaurs and people until the pinnacle of evolution was evolved.. the Redheaded Red Sonja Cos-Player in a chain mail bikini.   Oops, wrong group. 


Mars got short-changed.

At 135 million miles out, it was too cold for carbon to form life.  And so while the dinosaurs were happily breeding into fantastic shapes to screw with the Creationists-to-be, Mars was dead!

Then, some 50 million years ago, long after the dinosaurs were safely gone from the surface of the Earth and long before Megalodon evolved to terrorize future movie-goers, Mars got a break.

A very large hunk of rock was moving through space and Mars got in the way!  It happens a lot!   The Astronauts reported that they saw dozens of massive rocks strike the Earth's atmosphere and, fortunately, explode instead of push to the surface. 

But some hunk of rock hit Mars near the South Pole and the result was the Argyre Planitia.  Not the largest impact crater by far but one of vast importance.

Striking about 50 million years ago (give or take), the impact was amazing.  Rocks the size of cities were tossed into space, some to return, some to leave forever, some to reach Earth.  The ejecta formed a ring crater thousands of feet high and a hole that neatly punched through the crust.  The impact caused fractures that crossed half the planet and the ejecta landed to form more craters.  The heat from the impact was unbelievable and carbon dioxide, frozen at the poles, vaporized to settle as free carbon and oxygen.

Carbon requires a certain set of environmental circumstances to form life.  Earth met those and life took its time evolving.  Mars had none.. until the Argyre impact created a temporary eco-system that allowed carbon to do its thing. 

Suddenly life exploded.  It didn't have much time so evolution ran wild!  Red Algae won the initial war and became the dominant life on Mars.  Lacking a viscous ferrous core, Mars had no Van Allen belts to slow the hard solar radiation that burned the surface.  Solar Radiation caused DNA to recombine faster than it did or could on Earth with her protection of the Ozone Layer, the Van Allen Belt and the thick atmosphere.

Billions of years of evolution happened in a few millions of years.  BUT…..

The simple facts of cosmology are well understood.  Drop a rock, it falls down.  As the system becomes complicated, so do the results.  Drop a rock near a mountain and the rock may fall down, but not straight.  The mountain attracts that rock.  Move fast and you get heavier and (from my view) move slower until you freeze in time as you approach the speed of light.  The universe, based on simple laws, gets drastically more complicated as more and more things interact.

The Argyre Crater became a hotbed of evolutionary experimentation.  Simple life, algae, ferns, moss, spread easily over the planet to take advantage of the temporary atmosphere created by the impact, and once established, life ensured its own existence.  The moss and algae maintained the atmosphere as best it could.  The impact reformed the gasses into water and the Five Great Seas formed.  Although this happened over millions of years, by cosmological time, the interval between the Argyre Impact and today was a blink of the eye.  A temporary aberration on a dead planet.  BUT one of which that life took advantage.  Yes, the Mars of today is dying, but it was never meant to live so is returning to its natural state.

So now, thanks to one small planet getting in the way of a very large rock, a temporary eco-system formed that was perfect to create and sustain life, …. for a couple dozen million years.

25 million years after the Impact, scarlet moss and red ferns and even a few red-leafed trees cover the planet.  Five Great Seas have formed with multiple rivers and lakes.  Fissures become rivers and impact craters become lakes or havens for life.  Plants are having a field day.  Then one plant is bombarded with solar radiation at the wrong time and the Tree of Life forms!

Now animal life appears.  Animals from plants?  Where do you think we came from?  Green algae!  Some scientists will insist that 23 million years is too short of a time for evolution to colonize an entire world in such advanced diversity.  But John Carter said it best when he commented that some scientist will produce reams of paper to prove that Mars is inhabited only to be confronted by another scientist the next day with reams of paper to prove that Mars is dead.  We see this daily.  Mainstream biologists laugh at cryptozoologists even when the crypto people prove again and again that they are right and extinct species still exist or unknown monsters walk the earth.  One day the best physicists prove that it is impossible for man to survive speeds of 60 mph.. until someone rides in a locomotive that exceeds that and survives.  Scientists insist that the ‘guy died before he hit the ground’ because the velocity of a man's fall will kill him long before the impact.. until skydivers prove him wrong.  Evolution was ‘quack science’ until long after Darwin.  Then evolution was slow and gradual.. until it was discovered that evolution can happen in spurts that happen over a few generations. 

So for a plant to produce animals over a few million years on a FOREIGN planet is no real stretch of the imagination.  It simply takes a willingness to suspend disbelief long enough to consider the possibilities. 

So from that first Tree of Life (were there more?) came the basic animals from which all Barsoomian fauna came.  That explains why there isn't the diversity of life on Barsoom that you would find here.  There is more variety of life in a single patch of American forest than on the entire planet of Barsoom.  From those first few ‘seed buds’ came all the animals of Barsoom.  There aren't many.   Animal life is limited to a few:

 One mammal
Barsoms (my term for the main life on the planet. 
Barsoms are egg-layers, warm-blooded and furred. Feel 
free to come up with a better taxonomy)

And even the advanced beasts fall into a few small categories based on the number of legs they possess.  Two species of thoat, one of banth, one calot, one Zitidar, etc.  At least we assume that there are only one banth for nowhere is there any mention of the ‘desert banth’ or the ‘forest banth’ or the greater banth’ or such.  They are all ‘banths’ as if there was but one species of banth across the entire planet.

Then the ecosystem broke down.

The atmosphere leaked away due to a lack of gravity to hold it in.  With the reduced air pressure, the seas ‘boiled’ away to vapor to be absorbed by the iron in the soil, turning the rocks red with rust.  Never meant to last forever, Mars began to return to its past.  The anomaly ending.

Korus is the exception.  Like the Toonolian Marsh, Korus retained water, mostly FROM the Toonol Marshes via the River Iss.  Set in the Argyre depression, the atmosphere was thick enough to slow the vaporizing Korus Sea.  The vegetation and trees that surround the impact crater help retain the moisture.

And where there is water, life flourishes. 

Korus became the last center of the Plant Man.  No.  The Plant man started in Korus as that is the original place of the Tree of Life.  But a plant-animal that was evolved to eat grass and drink blood could not find sustenance on the moss and rare thoat that covered the planet.  The plant man was restricted by need to feed to the valleys of Korus.  White Apes found Korus a place for easy hunting and remained.  As the seas dried and life vanished, Korus retained those beasts and fish and birds that had long ago become extinct on the rest of the planet (save the few forests).

And here is where a group of the White Race of Orovars settled to found the Religion of Issus.   As the seas dried and the Orovars mixed with the Yellow and Black races to found the Red Race, the population that found Korus must have been very small.  A random mutation for baldness spread throughout the population and all Therns are now bald.  Originally Auburn-haired, they probably dyed their hair blonde as a sign of their priesthood as some Christian monks would shave the tops of their heads to show their devotion to god.  Then as they lost their hair, they replaced the lost locks with blonde wigs.  Even Phaidor is bald! 
Note: we won't go into pubic hair or lack thereof and the clothing or lack of that would reveal this. 
But watch for my paper on the religion of Issus.
So the once-auburn Orovars became the bald Therns as they spread their religion across the planet.  Obviously, finding the Valley Dor in the Great Desert of a dying Barsoom must have been like the Promised Land to them.  Perhaps they created or changed the religion to protect their Valley from invaders?  But that is for another paper.

But today, Korus, the origin of Life on Barsoom, may very well be the last refuge of that life as the eco-system breaks down and Toonol dries to the point where the Iss ceases to flow and in a few more million years, Barsoom will be dead…. Save in Korus.


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