1. Clickbait headline that tells you nothing. (Unfortunately this article retains that flaw)
2. Introduction by the author of --- the author! He had been thinking about this topic for a long time. He had this conversation with his colleagues about it (reproduced here). Then his editor finally challenged him to have a go at it. So here it is!
3. Encyclopedic history of the topic (question still unanswered).
4. Compendium of assorted controversy and minority opinion (majority opinion still left to be stated).
5. The information.
6. Return to the author, his life, what he's doing afterwards, what he has eaten for breakfast, his favorite color, etc.
7. Request for comments, subscribe, like, share, etc.
It's how traditional straight news articles have historically been written in large part for practical reasons. Those reasons were particularly evident for wire service copy where the newspaper using the copy could pretty much cut off the article at any arbitrary point to fit it into whatever hole they had in their layout.
For feature articles and many magazine articles, there's no hard and fast journalism rule to use inverted pyramid and never has been.
You may prefer that everything be written with inverted pyramid and that is certainly your right--and there are often good reasons--but it's not the "right" way to do things.
You really think there is no benefit to the reader?
I agree that the Inverted Pyramid is the mainstay of news and would be unfit for a novel and even some long features like you find in New Yorker magazine.
But the problem isn't that there are too many articles written in the Inverse Pyramid that should have been written some other way. The problem is that too many articles that should have been written in the Inverted Pyramid aren't. If you have problems with making judgments and using the word "should," I'm talking about writing in the practical interests of the reader. If the reader comes to the article for information, then the article should get to the point as soon as possible. If the reader comes for entertainment (like a novel) then the writing can follow some other path.
To say that the reason for the Inverted Pyramid was mainly so that syndicates could cut the article at any point to fit the space they had is to ignore all the benefits to the reader. The reader is presented with a large newspaper of various articles, and he is trying to decide which ones to read and which to skip, because he doesn't have time to read a whole newspaper from start to finish every day. Some stories, he just wants the gist, which is why even the headlines are supposed to present the whole story, obviously in outline. A hurried reader can browse just the headlines and know the overall news of the day. A less-hurried reader can read the first paragraph of some of the more interesting stories. And so on.
Even though we don't have paper newspapers as much, we still have readers with short attentions spans. In fact, more so.
It’s been a while since I’ve read Slate but I recall their “Explainer” series always made a point of putting the answer in the first sentence, with the rest of the article serving as amplification. I really liked that, for the same reason you mentioned.
Time scale. Lakes are static bodies of water for a few thousand to a million years at a time before some flood or glacier or whatnot flushes them out to the ocean. The ocean stores the accumulated salts of 4.7 billion years of surface rocks.
Salt gets left when oceans get landlocked and die. (Thus the big layers of salt and salt mines). So it isn't really the accumulation of the age of the earth, it's a lot less because much gets redeposited.
Sarcasm like this doesn't typically go well here. This isn't Slashdot or /r/atheism. Believe it or not, there are religious people of various faiths on here, both in and out of the tech community. Statements like this don't add to the discussion, are frivolous and sorta mock peoples' believes.
I wasn't being sarcastic, or mocking anyone's beliefs, scientific or religious. Nor am I an atheist or got lost and think I'm on Slashdot. I was merely putting forth a question I've always thought was intellectually interesting, something that's supposed to be encouraged here. 
In that case, the answer to your question is that there is no answer, that there can never be an answer (unless God tells us) and that there does not need to be an answer.
If God really made it so that it's impossible to tell that they are not 4.7 billion years old, then it is simply impossible to tell so, hence there can be no answer.
And there does not need to be an answer, because if there really is no way to tell that they are not 4.7 billion years old, then by definition there cannot be any situation where it would make a difference. So, it's perfectly valid to just state that they are 4.7 billion years old.
I am in fact atheist, this is the viewpoint that I have from the discussion whether maybe our entire universe is just a computer simulation ran by some alien race or such.
If we talk about it with the religious tangent, there's of course further questions: Some people interpret the Bible to contain an age of the universe. So, is that interpretation of the Bible wrong or not? And if it's not, why would God want to trick us with those rocks? Did he create the universe some few thousand years ago, but thought it'd be a more interesting world, if there was some backstory to it? So, does he want us to explore this backstory? Or is it a test of your faith in the Bible? ...which to my knowledge really doesn't state a concrete date for creation, so at least to me that'd be strange.
Some lakes are salty. The Dead Sea and the Caspian, for example.
But many lakes do not have an outlet that leads to the sea. Water flows in and evaporates. Where does the salt go in that case?
It sticks around. The terminal lakes which aren't salty are generally ones which only formed recently (e.g., after the most recent glaciation) or ones which are not fed by rivers (e.g., Oregon's Crater Lake).
FWIW, the Dead and Caspian seas are actually dismembered bits of ocean. They're salty because their water was originally salty. The only salty lake I can think of that didn't begin with ocean water is the Great Salt Lake, which is an evaporated basin from a much larger lake that just happened to sit on salty bedrock.
I'll also add a non-endorheic salt lake, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Salt_Plains_State_Park , made salty from the dried salts from an ancient inland sea. (I think it's the Western Interior Seaway, but I could be wrong.) In any case, it began with ocean water, which dried up, and that salt is dissolving again.
> Normally, water that has accrued in a drainage basin eventually flows out through rivers or streams on the Earth's surface or by underground diffusion through permeable rock, ultimately ending up in the oceans. However, in an endorheic basin, rain (or other precipitation) that falls within it does not flow out but may only leave the drainage system by evaporation and seepage. The bottom of such a basin is typically occupied by a salt lake or salt pan.
1.33/.51/.292 is about 8.9km. You're spreading the ocean over the surface of the entire earth instead of just the continents. Average ocean depth is 12,000 feet, and there's less land than ocean, so the answer must be greater than 12,000 feet.
It turns out that in addition to the "standard" explanation that the oceans' salt comes from rain dissolving rocks on land, another quite important contributing factor is the activity of hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. As I understand it, the high temperature of the water emerging there helps it to carry very large amounts of dissolved minerals from deep in the crust back into the sea (and that our models of ocean salinity wouldn't work without this contribution).
> In C4 plants, sodium is a micronutrient that aids in metabolism, specifically in regeneration of phosphoenolpyruvate (...) and synthesis of chlorophyll. In others, it substitutes for potassium in several roles, such as maintaining turgor pressure and aiding in the opening and closing of stomata. [Note: most plants are C3] [...]
> Since only some plants need sodium and those in small quantities, a completely plant-based diet will generally be very low in sodium. This requires some herbivores to obtain their sodium from salt licks and other mineral sources.
Interesting that you say Natrium (as opposed to Sodium), but Potassium, not Kalium. I thought use of the two variant names for those elements was 100% correlated. Are there regions of the world where that is not the case?
IANAG, but you're not accounting for processes that remove salt from the ocean. All of our salt mines come from somewhere -- crust that's been elevated to make an inland sea, that gradually evaporates and leaves a salt deposit. This can then get buried.
Possibly when the tectonic processes stop on Earth, the oceans will continue to get salty from weathering of rocks. And you won't have much addition of water from volcanism, only a little bit from space. But life gets generally hard without active tectonics anyway.
Salinity levels will vary, but there is no trend to increasing salinity globally. Remember that water is still being “added” to the surface through volcanic activity, and the water cycle dominates, while the current rate of loss to space is quite low. I’m not sure whether volcanic activity is likely to slow before Sol starts to seriously cook off our water, but one of those would eventually lead to a reduction of surface water. That in turn, as with the Dead Sea, will lead to a higher concentration of dissolved solids in seawater.
A rocky planet the size of jupiter is not physically impossible. It is almost certainly incompatible with life, but there is nothing in the laws of physics that would cause such a sized planet to explode or collapse.
I had to check if this was true. So, Jupiter is about 10x the diameter of Earth, which means it has 100x the surface area. So while it would still be possible to travel anywhere by jet, it would be impossible to travel everywhere in one human lifetime (e.g. there would be 100x the number of cities, nations, etc, and it's already unlikely that any human has visited every major city). So yeah, tentatively I think it's true.
> Majipoor is a planet much larger, though far less dense, than the Earth. It has been settled by humans, Ghayrogs, Skandars, Vroons, Liimen, Hjorts and other alien races for many thousands of years. These races live in an unstable truce with the shape-changing aboriginal inhabitants of the planet, the Piurivar.
And also at the same time, even the occasional mass concentrations in between are, in all likelihood, mostly rather bland and boring compared to earth, with its magnificent abundance of self-organizing and self-replicating patterns. Even the more interesting aspects of geology tend to be direct or indirect traces of life.
Or maybe not, and there actually is every imaginable wonder out there, including a planet where mattresses naturally occur, but my money would be on earth being pretty much as amazing as it gets.
that's relative. the further your frame of reference expands, the older the image of earth observable at the border of the frame of reference is, so a few billion light years out, even earth would look boring. And even if that still implied 'mostly-void', I will take it compared to 'pretty much devoid'.
Interesting historical fact: The salinity of the Earth's oceans was proposed as a clock for measuring the Earth's age by Halley in 1715. This method ultimately arrived at ages around 50 million years (it didn't account for salt losses due to tectonic activity) and was one of the major stepping stones towards establishing public confidence in the idea of an "old" Earth.
Any idea about this line from the seeker article above?
> "Salt ions themselves aren't added or removed from the ocean, but water molecules are freely gained or lost through the processes of evaporation and precipitation, or freezing and melting of ice," said Ruth Curry, a senior research specialist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
"Salt ions aren't added". That doesn't seem right...
Woods Hole is a fine research institution. I think you can assume they were trying to make the concept accessible to layman.
And I think they are trying to not get into all the complexities (yes, Na+ and Cl- ions are added/removed in some natural processes, but many times less readily than water). One could easily point tectonic processes and salt loss via evaporite layer deposition, but you don't lose a lot by not going into the weeds.
> By some estimates, if the salt in the ocean could be removed and spread evenly over the Earth’s land surface it would form a layer more than 500 feet thick, about the height of a 40-story office building.
Needless to say [almost] every land plant and creature on Earth would die in such an event. I just wonder (out of pure bizarre curiosity) what would happen if the salt in the ocean could be removed and put somewhere in the outer space - what part of the ocean life would survive and how much impact would it have on the land life.
I’d be curious to know how much energy would be required to separate all that salt from that water, especially in terms of the total solar energy Earth receives. If, hypothetically, all that solar energy were devoted to desalinization, how long would it take?
Processing milk is a digestive change, and one that mammals are all able to do at some point. It’s not a very far leap. Processing water with the sea’s salinity would require changes to how our cells are constructed, or at least would require massive changes to our kidneys. There’s simply no (or not enough) selection advantage for it to have happened.
We excrete a lot of salt already, kidneys do hard work. Ingesting salt water would quickly overwhelm their capability to shed the salt. Incidentally, this kind of over-concentration+some kernel to start crystallization around can cause kidneystones.