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2. Make To Order And Throw Away the Mold

It seems impossible that one planet would be perfectly made.

from the article: Earth, Just Right For Life:

The Rare Earth Hypothesis: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe.’

“... Earth...boasts several features that make it ‘just right’

The right ingredients: A planet needs liquid water, an energy source and chemical building blocks like carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen for the life forms we're familiar with to thrive.

The right crust:Gas giants and molten worlds need not apply. Luckily, Earth possesses the suitable distribution of elements to ensure a hot metallic core and a rocky mantle.

The right temperature: The necessity for liquid water also means that planetary temperatures must permit the substance to retain its liquid form in some regions.

The right moon: Our large moon ensures climate stability by minimizing changes in planetary tilt. If our planet didn't have a tilt, it wouldn't have seasons. Likewise, a severe tilt would result in extreme seasons.

The right star: The sun provides Earth with the energy for life and is thankfully rather stable. Imagine baking a pot roast with an oven that might suddenly surge in temperature, die or explode. It wouldn't work for your pot roast, and it certainly wouldn't work for life.

The right core: Earth's solid inner core and liquid outer core play crucial roles in protecting life from deadly solar radiation. Differences in temperature and composition in the two core regions drive this powerful dynamo, emitting Earth's protective electromagnetic field.

The right neighbors: Jupiter shields Earth from constant stellar bombardment. Without the gas giant in the neighborhood, scientists predict that Earth would endure 10,000 times as many asteroid and comet strikes [source: Villard].

In short, Earth contains all the ingredients and environmental necessities for life to emerge, plus the relative safety for it to evolve unmolested for hundreds of millions of years on end.

How common are these combinations in the universe?

Astronomers have now discovered thousands of planets. Some obviously are not suitable for higher forms of life. Others, it is impossible to tell. As a guess, if there is a 1% chance of each of seven requirements, the probability of a planet possessing these characteristics is 0.017 or 10-14 which is one in a hundred trillion. A possible conclusion is that such planets are rare. Perhaps one day we will have better telescopes and know.

A far deeper examination of a far greater range of parameters may be found by clicking on PLANETARY HABITABILITY.

Searching the web will reveal a number of sites devoted to the possibility of planets that could support higher forms of life. One such is Humans May Be the Only Intelligent Life in the Universe, If Evolution Has Anything to Say. Curiously, the author, Nick Longrich - Senior Lecturer, Paleontology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Bath, using an entirely different set of assumptions arrives at the same number: 1 in 100 trillion.

I believe it is likely there are other planets with higher formers of life, but not many. The SETTI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) program has been operating for about 40 years with no successful detections. My own assessment is that the overall requirements make the earth still more special with the probability of earth-like planets exceedingly rare.

3. A Very Loud Sound, A Very Faint Signal

It is almost common knowledge (after all, a prime time TV show is named after it) that the beginning of space and time is known as “the big bang.”

It is the most extraordinary event that humans are aware of for the entire universe (it weighs) weighs approximately 1048 kilograms and contains around 1022 stars) but was the smallest thing that can exist, one quantum of distance and one quantum of time, but infinite energy. Science has no knowedge why it happened when it did, about 10.8 billion years ago. The earth came into existance about 5 billion years ago.

(This event is called a singularity by mathamaticians. Some years ago NPR ran a contest to see if anyone could suggest a name better than the big bang and no one did. I did not enter, but if I did my suggestion would have been “The Grand Singularity.”)

As recently as the 1950s, the debate among astronomers and cosmologists was whether the universe had a beginning. One concept was that of a so called steady-state universe.

But all came together (or fell appart, depending on your perspective) in 1964 when two Bell Lab scientists, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, were preparing a large microwave antenna (above) for listening to very weak signals from outer space, so weak that the reciver had to be immersed in liquid helium to subdue natural thermal noise. When listening started Penzias and Wilson noticed an odd, very weak hissing signal. What was odd was that it was the same no matter where they pointed the antenna so it seemed obvious that there might be a fault in the antenna or receiving equipment.

After much investigation (including cleaning out pigeous dropings) they concluded the equipment was working properly and that they had detected what we now call the cosmic background radiation or CBR which turned out to be the predicted afterglow of the big bang. Theory required that this signal had to be almost the same from every direction but in order to provide for the creation of galaxies it had to vary by at least a few hundred-thousands of a degree from its very cold value of about 2.7°K. This was, afterall what was left over from an event that happened 10.8 billion years ago.

Since then at least three extremely sophisticated satillites have surveyed the universe to confirm the tiny variations. The last and most sophisticated was launched by the European Space Agency and after four years of data gathering produced the image below, a finer grained replica of that produced by two prior American satellites. The colors show the presence of galaxies or galatic clusters. To create this image was a formidable enterprise indeed, but it was also part of the confirmation of the big bang theory and so fundamental to our understanding of where we came from. (for more depth click on CBR )As far as we know, prior to the creation of the universe by the big bang there was no space and no time. There is no scientific knowledge as to why the big bang happened. Attributing the event to an act of god seems to me to be just naming a cause, rather than finding a process by which the big bang happened. Jim Holt’s TED TALK is a good place for speculation.


4. Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

The Time-Line of the Universe

“Yesterday” covers most of the chart to the right, from t = 0 (the big bang) and through the following 10.8 billion years. In reading of the phenomina at each state what strikes me is the seeming inevitability of the progression. This may be a phantom feeling to a non-astrophysicist, but the result of one part of the process is such that the next must happen and eventually you have quarks, neutrons and electrons which combine into hydrogen and helium. Gravity then pulls these together and enough of them densly packed gives you a star. And some of these stars are super novae which create all the other matter in the universe, like carbon and oxygen and so forth and after a very long time you get you and me.

This order of nature had its origin in the big bang itself as did the physical laws that created the conditions necessary for life. My god! What a receipe. Homo sapiens appear about one million years BCE and at some point start finding reasons to burn a great deal of fossel fuel.

Until that time the atmosphere was stable with some regular wiggles until perhaps when CO2 reached 350 ppm compared to the old value of about 270 ppm. Now this is where I begin to loose faith in humanity.

Joseph Fourier had discovered the chemistry of the greenhouse effect in 1829. Edward Teller lectured the fossel fuel industry at their 100th anniversary celebration in 1950. They in turn did their own research, confirming what was happening and burried the results.

I am not sure how to say it, but this is when I lose it. They know that are putting the earth at risk but money drives everything.

Now we jump ahead 50 or 60 years, warming has caused calamity and disaster (a little bit shown in the slide shows above), incredible loss of life and the earth’s temperature has risen only about 1°C. The Paris meeting came to an agreement to try to keep the temperature no higher than 1.5°C but as you can see from the charts below we arn’t anywhere near our targets, and no one is making a proper fuss about it. Humanity does not understand what is happening. Every paper and report I read says the problem is very urgent and by 2050 we will need 60% more energy. I believe we have no choice but to develop nuclear power on a large scale, beginning the research yesterday, and then prepare to spend a trillion or two building equipment to scrub the air and get back to 350 ppm or we will have a planet that continues to warm indefinitely. Suffering, death, starvation, sea level rise and so forth will be incredible.

I, of course, could be wrong but there is a good deal of evidence on my side and Trump Oil and Co. along with and the leaders of the world (let us not even mention Donald) are suffereng from the not here and not now a problem. But I, as an engineer and risk analyzer say it ia totally mindless stupidity that even considers anyting other than the most agressive program we can put together. The earth is at serious risk of the worst kind: you cannot recover from it.

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