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Godís Inefficiency
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Wednesday, December 06, 2017
Wendy Wippel

I’m thinking that we probably all had at least some exposure to those flannel board renditions of creation in Sunday School where you had the round green piece of flannel (the earth) resting on a blue background (the sky).

Now we know it’s nowhere near that simple.

In fact, the more earth’s scientists study, the more they realize that a planet suitable for human life has a host of very specific requirements.  A whole lot of things have to be very fine-tuned for life to be possible. A suitable planet has to be an appropriate distance from its star, so the water doesn’t boil off or stay frozen.

You also need a star that provides conditions amenable to carbon-based life. One example: it can’t be in a globular cluster, because in a globular cluster, the number of stars create too much irradiation. And the star can’t be near a gamma ray source where ionizing radiation will be too high.  You also need a star whose luminosity does not vary excessively, which is generally accompanied by high levels of gamma radiation. So how did we come to exist here?  How did we end up in this strangely favored place?  The story is stranger then we thought.

For me to be writing this (and you to be reading it) first of all we needed a rocky planet.  And a rocky planet involves elements like lithium, tin, zinc, copper and molybdenum. Just for starters.

But there’s a problem. For those elements to be created, there had to have been multiple supernovae that had occurred in the Milky Way’s past. Supernova being a “titanic explosion” that marks the end of a massive star’s life.

Another problem. The sun only manages to heat its core high enough to fuse hydrogen (H, atomic number one) with helium (He, atomic number two). So even if the sun burns for all eternity there won’t be any progress up the periodic table.  Hence, no massive stars, and therefore no supernovas.

Another problem. We know that supernovas occur regularly in other galaxies like ours.

If hydrogen and helium can never go on to provide all the things that we would need for a rocky planet, how did we get here? What gives?

What are we missing?

Deuterium. A weird little molecule kind of halfway between hydrogen and helium. (Also known as “heavy hydrogen”).  Deuterium differs from hydrogen by the addition of a neutron.

But again, there’s a problem. Deuterium is readily destroyed by the high energy radiation that pervades the earliest stages of the Big Bang. It takes several minutes of cooling before deuterium molecules manage to start hanging around.  And by then we have accumulated a lot of hydrogen, which now makes up 75% of our atmosphere, and helium, and deuterium, and even lithium. 

Bottom line? Even though deuterium makes up only a tiny, tiny fraction. (0.0025% ) of this very early concoction that will become our earth and moon and stars, its presence gives the first stars plenty of time to grow.

According to the scientists, “without that tiny bit of inefficiency"- without that easily destroyed deuterium left over from the big bang that our universe would not be here.

According to God?

Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created. Revelation 4:11

What looks to foolish man, like inefficiency, was God, in His perfect power, creating a place for His created beings to abide.


About Wendy Wippel

Last week: The Doomsday Donald


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