Sunday Morning

Recognizing the dignity of each living thing, mobile or fixed, insect, animal, tree, or mushroom, has broadened my love for this world and diminished my need for a god in heaven. We have multitudes of gods on Earth.

Terry Tempest WilliamsErosion: Essays of Undoing (Sarah Crichton Books, October 8, 2019)

Photo Credit

Come up heads 10 quintillion times in a row. Really?


I so was fascinated by this opinion piece in yesterday’s paper that I have shared all but a few sentences from the article by Eric Metaxas, Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God:

In 1966 Time magazine ran a cover story asking: Is God Dead? Many have accepted the cultural narrative that he’s obsolete—that as science progresses, there is less need for a “God” to explain the universe. Yet it turns out that the rumors of God’s death were premature. More amazing is that the relatively recent case for his existence comes from a surprising place—science itself.

Here’s the story: The same year Time featured the now-famous headline, the astronomer Carl Sagan announced that there were two important criteria for a planet to support life: The right kind of star, and a planet the right distance from that star. Given the roughly octillion—1 followed by 24 zeros—planets in the universe, there should have been about septillion—1 followed by 21 zeros—planets capable of supporting life.

With such spectacular odds, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, a large, expensive collection of private and publicly funded projects launched in the 1960s, was sure to turn up something soon…As of 2014, researches have discovered precisely bubkis—0 followed by nothing.

What happened? As our knowledge of the universe increased, it became clear that there were far more factors necessary for life than Sagan supposed….Today there are more than 200 known parameters necessary for a planet to support life—every single one of which must be perfectly met, or the whole thing falls apart. Without a massive planet like Jupiter nearby, whose gravity will draw away asteroids, a thousand times as many would hit Earth’s surface. The odds against life in the universe are simply astonishing.
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This is a bit of an epic fail


Steve Layman’s shares “7 Questions About the Universe That No One Has Answered“:

…There’s also so much mess after 4.5 billion years of geophysics that some of our best information about the planet’s origins come from meteorites and the cratering of other worlds — outsourced. Speaking of other worlds, we’re not even sure we understand where the Moon came from, maybe it was a giant impact, maybe not. For an allegedly clever species on a small rocky planet this is a bit of an epic fail…

There’s an awful lot we don’t know (far more than just the examples here). But the point is not to get despondent, because this ignorance is a beautiful thing. It’s what ultimately drives science, and it’s what makes the universe truly awe-inspiring. After the hundreds of thousands of years that Homo sapienshas loped around, the cosmos can still elude our fidgety, inquisitive minds, easily outracing our considerable imaginations. How wonderful.

~ Caleb A. Scharf, Scientific American

Image Credit. Thank you Steve Layman.

These are mind blowing large numbers


…Just how many planets are there?…There could be about 23 billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy, each harbouring Earth-sized planets with life-friendly temperatures on their surfaces. Twenty-three billion, give or take a few…Some studies produce numbers of Earth-sized planets closer to 17 billion…Others suggest a figure as low as 6 billion or so, but these are just the planets close to Earth in size. If we extend our reach to slightly larger worlds, the places now known as ‘super-Earths’, we’re back into the tens of billions. No matter how you slice the cosmic cake, you end up with a vast wedge of planets that we’d be happy to go and study, perhaps even land on and cautiously tiptoe about. These are mind-blowingly huge numbers…

So, given the enormity of the number of planets in the galaxy, the question Caleb Scharf tries to answer in his essay is: Are We Alone?

Image Source: theorangeco.  Quote Source: Aeon Magazine

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