Solar Wind and Terrestrial Oxygen


STEFANSSON1 pointed out that nothing gained such universal acceptance as an error. This should make us all wary of unanimity, and it has led me to question persistently the general assumption that Earth's original atmosphere contained little or no oxygen and that the origins of life are to be sought exclusively among anaerobic reactions. The atmosphere now contains 230 gm. of oxygen per sq. cm. and perhaps twice that amount must have passed through the atmosphere at an early stage of Earth's development to account for ferric iron, sulphates, etc., in sediments. These quantities are so small that slightly different assumptions lead to radically different conclusions about the amount of oxygen at various times during the past 3 × 109 years. It has, nevertheless, been difficult to account satisfactorily for the oxygen and there is opposition to all the mechanisms proposed for its formation.

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  1. 1

    Stefansson, V., The Standardisation of Error (Kegan Paul, London, 1928).

  2. 2

    de Turville, C. M., Nature, 190, 156 (1961).

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PIRIE, N. Solar Wind and Terrestrial Oxygen. Nature 190, 706 (1961).

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