Would you agree in our fast-paced culture we rarely, if at all, stop to observe and enjoy the world around us?
It is so easy and common to consider every amazing fact of our world as just ordinary. It was here when we were born and hasn't changed, at least very much.
In the past century, many things concerning our world have been learned due to new and very sophisticated equipment, such as electron microscopes, space shuttles, computers and telescopes.
Throughout history, there were many questions and suppositions concerning the universe and our planet. For instance, some thought the world was flat, some thought the sun revolved around the earth, some thought the earth was supported by some force in space, and many other ideas. A general supposition was the universe always had been. Many questions and theories developed concerning the earth we live on.
In 1916, a smart mathematician named Albert Einstein used his mathematical ability to develop a theory named general relativity. He expected it to prove the universe always had been. Instead, it said the universe had been created. Other scientists tested his theory and validated it. Then, in 1927, an astronomer named Edwin Hubble, using a new 100-inch telescope, proved Einstein's theory was true and the universe had a beginning.
These findings led to many scientists studying this problem, all of which led to more and more of them agreeing with the findings. There are a number of very interesting studies which followed. In 1992, a $200 million satelite loaded with extremely sensitive instruments proved the universe did have a beginning. Scientists also have proved the beginning of the universe also was the beginning of time, space, matter and energy.
So, how about our planet? Are we the only planet populated with people, animal and plants? The Bible quotes Isaiah thus: "For thus says the Lord who created the heavens, who formed the earth and made it; He did not create it a chaos. He formed it to be inhabited" (Isaiah 45:l8). What have we learned about the earth in the past 100 years?
Are you familiar with the words "anthropic principle?" It is derived from a Greek word "anthro," which means "human" or "man." This principle refers to the extremely "fine-tuning" of our world and applies to many factors, most of which we are very much acquainted with. These apply to our everyday situations and are absolutely necessary to make living on earth possible. Here are some of them.
Here is a big one -- gravity. From the very beginning of the universe, gravity and its opposite force have had to be perfectly balanced. How precise several scientists have calculated this fine-tuning to be is fantastic. If the gravitational force were altered by .0000000000000000000000000000000000001 percent, we would not be here. Is that fine-tuning? Yes, that's 36 zeroes.
Oxygen is an important factor. Here on earth, oxygen comprises 21 percent of our atmosphere. Scientists tell us if it were 25 percent, fires would erupt spontaneously, and if it were 15 percent, we would suffocate.
There's another factor in our atmosphere, which is most important. It is nitrogen. Our atmosphere has to be balanced at 78 percent nitrogen with the 21 percent oxygen. It has been called a "very delicate" ratio and is essential for all living things.
The rotation of the earth is just right. You already know we rotate in just 24 hours. If it were otherwise, the temperatures would be too great between night and day, and also would affect wind velocities.
As you well know, water is very important. You probably know when scientists explore the possibility of life on other planets, they always look for the possibility of water. Have you really considered how important water is? It is considered to be a special liquid because it has three forms, all of which are valuable. It is just plain water in its usual form, steam when heated and ice when frozen. By the way, when it is ice, it is lighter than water and will float. It has a formula known as H20.
Did you know the earth is tilted by 23 degrees and this figure is exactly right? If it were altered even slightly, it would affect surface temperatures on earth to the extreme. It also is controlling the seasons on earth and absolutely necessary for raising crops. Scientists say if this tilt did not occur, half of the earth would be impossible to live in.
The earth is at just the correct distance from the sun (93 million miles). If we were either closer or farther away, we would not be able to live with the heat or cold. The sun also is at just the right distance from the earth to control our outer atmosphere.
The moon is also the right distance from the earth (240,000 miles) to control our oceanic tides. If we were closer or farther away from the moon, we would have either higher tides or no tides at all. Tides are necessary to help keep the oceans clean.
I have shared some of our many anthropic principles, which I hope will help to make us a bit more aware of this wonderful world. I must tell you all of these principles are interrelated and if one fails, the others either will fail or be severely affected.
There is one more factor which pertains to us as humans. It was discovered in the 1960s and is known as DNA. It is small but very potent. It is the complete blueprint for every living thing -- people, plants and animals. It is the cell which governs the approximately 70 trillion cells in our bodies and decides where they go and what they do.
Scientists tell us if the information in each of these cells were written out, for each cell it would amount to 1,000 encyclopedias.
According to scientists, we are traveling through space at 1,002 miles per hour. I hope you are enjoying the ride.
From who or where do you think all of these designs come from? It's your decision.
Arris Johnson is a member of the Generations advisory committee.