The Wonder of Waterfalls
by Russell Dunn
Have you ever stopped to consider that waterfalls exist because the world is imperfect?
It all began 13.7 billion years ago when the universe burst forth in one cataclysmic “Big Bang.” In the eons that followed, had matter and energy been evenly distributed, then galaxies and stars would never have formed, and the universe today would be evenly spread out like a fine mist. There would be no matter. There would be no life.
If the ancestor to the sun hadn’t gone super-nova over 5 billion years ago, then our sun wouldn’t have coalesced to evolve a solar system, including our own planet.
“Waterfalls cannot form on a flat Earth.”
If Earth was a perfect sphere, then we would have been left with a planet-girdling ocean. Because the Earth is imperfectly shaped and driven by plate tectonics, we have land masses and mountains that rise up nearly six miles into the stratosphere. Waterfalls cannot form on a flat Earth.
If the Earth was motionless and without rotation, and perfectly heated over its entire body, there would be no wind to carry water over to land masses. Water would simply evaporate over the ocean and then rain back down without moving in any direction. All land would consist of waterless deserts.
If land was composed of just one kind of rock, with all bedrock equally as resistant to erosion, then rain and snowmelt running off mountains would flow down uniform ravines and gullies. There would be no ridges and drops created by more soluble rocks and, hence, no waterfalls.
“…the universe is imperfect in virtually every way…”
Through all of these improbabilities, the waterfalls that we see today have been guided unerringly into existence through the fact that the universe is imperfect in virtually every way—right down to the last molecule of water cascading over a waterfall, whose existence is both improbable and unknowable.
What’s more, were it not for the imperfect transmission of our DNA from one generation to the next, there would be no evolution, and, hence, no you or me to marvel at the existence and wonder of waterfalls.
Thank goodness for imperfection. What would the world be without waterfalls to both thrill and terrify us with their awesome power?
A special thank you to Russell Dunn for this great guest blog post!
Mr. Dunn is author of a plethora of waterfall, kayaking and hiking guides of the North East.