Friday, April 26, 2013

“Kinds” of evolution 1,2,3 a summary and extension

We have seen that the origin of the elements following the Big Bang origin of the universe is neither a great mystery nor unsupported by direct scientific observation. There is still much to be learned, but we can dispense with the lie that they are without clear and obvious evidence. The energy released in the Big Bang, regardless of source, cooled and this resulted in the formation of neutrons from a quark, and gluon storm under tremendous heat and pressure. The continued cooling due to cosmic expansion provided conditions where neutrons decayed to protons, electrons, and neutrinos. Protons found electrons becoming hydrogen. Accelerated protons found each other becoming helium. Neutrons continued to add themselves forming the isotopes of deuterium, and helium 3, and 4. Traces of lithium were made, but the Big Bang nucleosynthesis process was blocked at beryllium-8 due to its nearly instant self destruction back into helium.

Gravity came to be the most important force in the next step, the formation of stars. The earliest stars were mostly huge things, millions of times larger than our sun. They quickly (in universal time scales) generated the elemental nuclei up to iron’s 26 protons via the “slow” process . Again the process was blocked, but this time by the stability of the iron nucleus. That very stability, ironically, lead to the greatest explosions observed in the universe today, the super nova. Those events generated the rest of the heavy elements to uranium (and maybe higher). Once there were ample amounts of heavy elements, other more interesting things do start to appear - planets.

2007 NASA’s Spitzer space telescope detected silica (sand) in the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A. The cyan dot just off center is the star's remnant.

This is, step by step, observed and verified scientific fact. Naturally creationists have denied it could ever be true. Any gap is clutched like a drowning man grabs at straws. One gap in our observations of ordinary r-process nucleosynthesis at atomic number 79, Gold, has just been filled. The collision of neutron stars, which are the remnants of massive star novas, provides the exact energy conditions for Gold synthesis. This has just been directly observed, and reported in, "Smoking Gun or Smoldering Embers? A Possible r-process Kilonova Associated with the Short-Hard GRB 130603B."

In the creationist’s freakish version of reality, planets just spring into existence by magic. For many decades, all leading creationist “thinkers” insisted that there were no planets other than those around the Earth. Henry Morris, founder of the Institute for Creation Research, was still trying to deny that science could discover extra-solar planets, or even the origin of the moon in the late 1990s. See for example his nonsense published as “The Stardust Trail.”

"As far as distant stars and galaxies are concerned, there is no evidence either in science or Scripture, that any of them have planets." Henry Morris, The Biblical Basis for Modern Science (Grand Rapids: Bier Book House, 1984) p. 244.

The late Duane Gish claimed that the non-existence of extra-solar planets was important to Christian faith. He wrote, “Our faith is based on the certainty of eyewitness accounts, not the uncertainty of the wobble of stars.”

Science knows, and every American should know that extra-solar planets are common. Science knows, and every American should know that the nebular hypothesis as proposed by Immanuel Kant in 1755 has been obsolete for over a century. Its modern replacement owes a great deal to Kant, but has the major advantage of making predictive statements regarding the physical structures we can directly observe in our solar system, and around distant stars. ( The Wikipedia article on this is excellent, and I'll just refer readers there).

This does not slow down the creationists who continue to deny reality, for example: as recently as 2011, "NASA Data Derail Nebular Hypothesis" by Brian Thomas of the ICR, "The nebular hypothesis is dead, and no other naturalistic origins scenario has fared any better. Clearly, the solar system is not a product of natural forces but of supernatural."

Two features of the modern nebular hypothesis are that there will be a circumstellar disk which will have remnants following the formation of inner planets. This is called the Kuiper Belt. It was recently determined by astronomers that Pluto was better classified as a Kuiper Belt object. There should also be an even more distant, spherical distribution of matter around a star called the Oort Cloud. These two concentrations of matter also have the interesting feature of explaining the origin, and persistence of comets. And this is why creationists hate and deny their very existence. Young Earth Creationists insist that the rather short cometary lives (hundreds to thousands to millions of years) somehow "proves" that the Earth is merely 6,000 years old. This is why we can read such stupidity from creationists as, “This imaginary cloud is called the "Oort Cloud," named after the astronomer who proposed it. The problem is that there is no observational evidence such a cloud exists at all.” “The Stardust Trail” Henry Morris.

Unfortunately for creationists, we have all the data we need. Even better, every feature of the modern Nebular Hypothesis: circumstellar disks, Kuiper Belts, and Oort Clouds, have been directly observed around other stars. And, how do we know that our solar system was built from earlier generations of stars? The most obvious way is the analysis of extra-solar dust grains still found today. There have been hundreds of scientific publications on these observations in just the last few years. Just use the Google; "extrasolar dust" is a good one. Then, "extrasolar disks" will reveal space telescope images of planet formation recorded for over a decade.

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