|Beginning with the depths of
space and the regions of remotest nebula,
we will gradually descend through the starry zone to which our solar
system belongs, to our own terrestrial spheroid, circled by air and
ocean, there to direct our attention to its form, temperature, and
magnetic tension, and to consider the fullness of organic life
unfolding itself upon its surface beneath the vivifying influence of
Alexander von Humboldt, Cosmos (1858) p. 79
Ultra Deep Space View
Hubble Space Telescope
|GIVE A QUOTE ON INSIGNIFICANCE
nondescript planet star insignificant
| "For there to be enough time to
construct the constituents of living beings, the Universe must be at
least ten billion years old and therefore, as a consequence of its
expansion, at least ten billion light years in extent. We should not be
surprised to observe that the Universe is so large. No astronomer could
exist in one that was significantly smaller. The Universe needs to be
as big as it is in order to evolve just a single carbon-based life
Barrow & Tipler,
Introduction, Pg. 3
[I would add, "and in fact, the Universe is remarkably young to have achieved such a project, which appears to have come about at the first possible moment." - dcb]
The formation of galaxy clusters, galaxies, star clusters and stars all proceeds in a similar sequence of stages.
• Random centers of gravitational attraction appear.
- They may be black holes or other massive entities (most galaxies appear to have black holes at their center)• These centers combine and grow into large clouds of matter by collision and accumulation of surrounding matter.
- They may be formed by intersecting shock waves or "tsunamis" travelling through the universe.
• The space between clouds gradually thins out and the clouds become physically separate with a characteristic center of gravity, (relatively) constant mass, angular momentum and velocity.
• The clouds shrink towards the center of gravity. The ambient heat increases towards the centr of gravity, as gravitational potential energy converts to kinetic energy and the cloud particles increase their speed in moving towardsd the center.
• Random motion of cloud particles gradually evolves to uniform rotation around the center of gravity. The cloud flattens as this occurs.
• Nuclear ignition occurs if the temperature and density rise to levels that can sustain the fusion of hydrogen to helium. Subsequent evolution depends on the involved cloud mass -- ranging from long-lived stars for low mass to rapid formation of black holes when the mass is high.
The formation of black holes limits the practical size of stars: there are no stars of galactic mass! In fact, the mass of a typical galaxy is billions of times the mass of any star. On the other hand, there is no physical limit to the mass of a black hole (and in fact, it is surprising that the entire universe has escaped from becoming a black hole).
This process is duplicated at all size scales. At the highest scale, galactic clusters form; within clusters, galaxies form, and within galaxies, stars form, all from the same basic sequence of events. If the mass of a cloud is too small, it will remain as dark matter, because the mass is too small to cause nuclear ignition.
The frequently observed spiral arms of galaxies are due to the fact that matter far from the galactic center has a lower rotational velocity (has much farther to go!). Nonetheless, the implied mass of galaxies (including the Milky Way) is about ten times larger than can be accounted for by the observed stars and interstellar matter. Thus there is a lot of dark matter left unaccounted for (see the comments on Dead Ends for Matter).
Solar System Showing Major Regions
System From Deep Space
The Milky Way Galaxy
Showing the location of the Solar System
Stars within 14 Light-years
The Local Group
Galaxies within 3 million Light-years
Principle galaxies are Andromeda and Triangulum
Genesis 1:6-8: And God said, "Let there be an expanse
in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the
waters." And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were
expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And
God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there
was morning, the second day.
I suggested earlier that the First Day refers to the creation of radiant energy in the Big Bang. Continuing with this suggestion, I suggest that the Second Day is the creation of the Cosmos, the Solar System and Earth -- viewed as are all of the Days, from the perspective of an observer on the Earth.
seems to be difficult for modern readers to avoid projecting modern
meanings into the very general terms used in these verses. Readers are
strongly cautioned to avoid this -- it is a particular affectation of
academic scholars who tend to view the ancients with unwarranted
The term "waters" is a general term for the fluid "stuff" of the Cosmos. It does not refer specifically to water per se. This is a universal usage of the word in many ancient cosmological stories, and it reads too much into the word to assume that it means what we call water. Many modern narrators of ancient cosmologies make this mistake and assume that, for example, the Egyptians assumed that the original stuff of the universe was literal water. [GIVE REFERENCES ] This is silly. It is a much more general term that encompasses a meaning of undifferentiated fluidity. And again, "fluid" here doesn't mean just the liquid state of matter -- fire and air can also be viewed as fluid. The term is more of an expression of visual impression than of actual physical composition.
The term "expanse" (which some translations starting with the LXX interpret as "firmament") similarly has nothing to do with a solid dome or any specific physical construction. All uses of the term that may imply this are simply figurative or poetic, as in "the sky was brass."
The term "separate" implies assignment of identity and differentiation. This task changes the undifferentiated "water" into specific objects with form, function and meaning. Some of this separation is into "below" and "above." In a very general sense, the "below" is the Earth, and the "above" is the Cosmos, with the atmosphere in between. But again, the reader is cautioned not to make the meanings too concrete.
What is being described is the incomprehensible and inconceivably vast process by which God made the Cosmos and differentiated it into various parts with purpose and function. That process is what we have celebrated our discussions up to this point in the Creation Narrative.
Origin of the
Solar System and Earth
form and composition of the Solar System gives clear evidence of how it
formed from the remnants of a supernova that occurred about 4.55 Ga
ago. The evidence includes the following physical facts:
1. Shape. The solar system is a rotating, flattened disk, a shape that results when a loose, roughly spherical, rotating aggregation of widely dispersed matter contracts under gravitational attraction. The flattening occurs perpendicular to the axis of rotation.
2. Composition. The Sun is made up of the same elements that form its satellites. The primary source of energy is hydrogen fusion but the presence of the heavier elements indicate that the Sun formed from the remnants of earlier stars.
3. Gradient. The inner planets are smaller and consist primarily of heavier elements - rocky material - while the outer planets are larger and consist primarily of lighter elements. This gradient is consistent with the separation of matter that occurs due to centrifugal action of the rotating disk.
??? HOW DOES THIS SQUARE WITH "More-dense components of the mixture migrate away from the axis of the centrifuge, while less-dense components of the mixture migrate towards the axis." (WIKI on centrifugation) OR IS IT SOLAR WIND???
4. Age. The radiometric age of meteorites has an upper limit of about 4.55 Ga, which indicates that this is the time of a supernova explosion that produced the material of the solar system.
Speech from the Heavens
The Visibility of Deep Space. The Solar System is located off of one of the arms of the Milky Way galaxy. As a result, the night sky is dark and deep space is accessible to our telescopes. If the Solar System had been located in a more "normal" position in the galaxy, then the deep space view would be much more obstructed by neighboring stars in our own galaxy.
The Moon and Earth Shadow During an Eclipse. During a solar eclipse, the Moon's disc almost exactly covers the Sun. Because of this, the Sun's corona and solar flares are clearly visible. The spectrum of the element Helium was first discovered by P.J.C. Janssen in 1868, a French scientist, P.J.C. Janssen, during a solar eclipse. In 1919 a solar eclipse provided the first confirmation of Einstein's prediction that light bends in a strong gravitational field. Anther element first discovered in the Sun's corona during a total eclipse: Coronium (1869). This was a mystery since the element did not appear to be in the periodic table. The mystery was solved in 1927 when I.S. Bown identified it as highly ionized iron (missing 13 electrons). See here for a chronology of discoveries about the Sun from analysis of solar eclipses.
In a total lunar eclipse the moon is not completely dark because it is illuminated with light that has refracted through the Earth's atmosphere. The refracted light is toward the red side of the light spectrum, which gives the moon a reddish hue. For this reason, ancient references to a lunar eclipse often referred to it as a "moon of blood" or a "bloody moon." An example is found in the Bible at Acts 2:20 where the Apostle Peter, one of Jesus' disciples implies that there was an eclipse at the time of Jesus' crucifixion.29
One way to view the days of creation is as God's workdays. [DEVELOP from Discovery institute seminar]. References to human labor are by analogy: "Six days shall thou labor and do all thy work." Mankind has its workdays, and God specifies one day of rest for six days of work. God's creative work is similarly expressed as six days of work and a day of rest. There is no implication as to the precise duration of these days, and to assert such a thing is to read an unwarranted meaning into the text.
|The "Goldilocks" Universe|
Many scientists and writers have remarked on the fact that the universe is remarkably fine-tuned for life -- it is "just right" as Goldilocks remarked about Baby Bear's porridge. This is the essence of the Anthropic Principle -- but it is more than just that the universe is "just right" for human existence, it is also "just right" for discovery. One could easily imagine a creation in which its most basic features would be impossible to discover -- in fact, that has been the default assumption of humans throughout history. Discovery of new facts always seems to come with amazement and disbelief: after all, humans have been contemplating the world for many thousands of years without knowing this fact -- perhaps it wasn't even missed!
Perhaps the most remarkable example of this default assumption came from the 19th century philosopher Auguste Comte, who gloomily observed regarding the starry heavens that
“On the subject of stars, all investigations which are not ultimately reducible to simple visual observations are … necessarily denied to us. While we can conceive of the possibility of determining their shapes, their sizes, and their motions, we shall never be able by any means to determine their chemical composition or even their density.”
Auguste Comte, 1835Comte really stated what seems to be intuitively obvious. How is it possible that a person could analyse the chemistry in a star that is completely beyond reach? But less than twenty years after he said this, the new science of spectral analysis showed quite specifically that we can indeed learn quite a lot about the physical and chemical properties of the stars. And more recent advances, propelled in particular by the astrophysicist Fred Hoyle in the 1950s, have demonstrated that we can even determine the details of the star interiors, and of how they are the forges of the elements.
Books that specifically address the fine-tuning of our "Goldilocks" universe include the following:
|from G. Brent Dalrymple, Ancient Earth, Ancient Skies (2004). See also The Age of the Earth (1991) Table 6.3, p. 287|
1, The width of the Moon is about 29.5 to 33.5 arc-minutes. The width of the Sun is about 31.6 to 32.7 arc-minutes. During a full solar eclipse the Sun's corona is visible over the entire perimeter. It remains complete for only a few seconds.
2. Earth's rotation will cause a star on the Ecliptic to move about 1 arc-minute in 4 seconds, so precise measurements of absolute position were exceedingly difficult and required accurate and reliable clocks, which did not exist until after Harrison's invention of the regulator clock. Tycho Brahe achieved accuracies of 0.5 arc-minutes in relative (star to star) position measurements averaged over a number of observations.
3. Parallax measurements using large baselines require very precise clocks. Cesium atomic clocks (accuracy ??) are used for ???
Direct measurement of Astronomical Distances by Parallax. Parallax is the direct geometric measurement of changes in the direction of a stellar object when viewed at the extremes of a very long baseline. The first parallax measurements were done in the 1800s to measure the distance to the nearest stars. The accuracy and practical maximum distance that can be measured in this way depends on the length of the baseline and the precision of the angular measurement. The most accurate positioning at present is done in radio frequency astronomy using the Very Long Baseline Interferometer (VLBI) antenna arrays which receive signals from widely separated locations on the Earth. Of course the measurements depend on stellar objects that have suitable coherent radiations in these frequencies. The potential accuracy of current and planned VLBA precision is 10-6 arcseconds which equates to direct distance measurements out to 25 million lightyears. Recently, the galaxy NGC 4258 was measured at 23.5x 106 lightyears ± 7%, based on direct geometric triangulation. According to NASA, VLBI Radio Interferometry is hundreds of times more detailed than the Hubble Space Telescope and the dedicated Hipparcos parallax-measuring satellite.
The Goddard Space Flight Center VLBI Summary says "VLBI is a geometric technique: it measures the time difference between the arrival at two Earth-based antennas of a radio wavefront emitted by a distant quasar. Using large numbers of time difference measurements from many quasars observed with a global network of antennas, VLBI determines the inertial reference frame defined by the quasars and simultaneously the precise positions of the antennas. Because the time difference measurements are precise to a few picoseconds, VLBI determines the relative positions of the antennas to a few millimeters and the quasar positions to fractions of a milliarcsecond. Since the antennas are fixed to the Earth, their locations track the instantaneous orientation of the Earth in the inertial reference frame."
Reference on various cosmological models and computer simulations.
The Earth cooled from a molten mass around 4 billion years BP. By about 3.9 BBP, it was cool enough that an ocean of water covered the globe to a depth of about 800 feet. From this point to the present -- about 4 billion years, the Earth has maintained a habitable temperature in which life could thrive. During this time heat from the Sun increased about 25%, but heat from radioactive decay of Uranium and other radioactive elements compensated for the lack of heat from the early Sun. This heating effect decreased logarithmically over the same period of time. In addition, exaggerated tidal friction from a nearby moon added a minor contribution to heating of the Earth environment.
Radioactive heating of the Earth's interior has been a main contributor to maintaining a habitable temperature. In the late 1800s, before the discovery of radioactive decay, the source for heat from the Earth's core was a great puzzle, since physical calculations at the time by Lord Kelvin indicated that core heat would dissipate in a time on the order of 20-400 million years, which was far less than appeared to be the minimum time that life existed on Earth.