The music, "What a Wonderful World" is appropriate for our thinking today. Are you familiar with the new term "anthropic principle?" In 1973, a respected astrophysicist. Brandon Carter from Cambridge University, delivered a paper titled "Large Number Coincidences and the Anthropic Principle in Cosmology."
In case you are not familiar with the science of cosmology, it deals with the origin and structure of the universe. The term "anthropic" derives from the Greek word "anthropos" which means "man." Carter coined this term.
Grant Jeffrey describes the term "anthropic principle" this way: "The anthropic principle states that overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that the precise design and finely balanced fundamental forces governing our universe argue persuasively that our universe was either designed by a supernatural intelligence, namely God, or that there are an infinity of universes that don't support life and we just happen to exist in the only one that does."
With this background in mind, I want to share with you a number of features about our universe and our planet that are absolutely necessary for life to exist here.
Most of them (and the scientists now say that there are more than 100 of these features) are common to our everyday life, but we don't realize their importance. Even though we list them one by one, they react with each other continuously.
Let's start with water. How common it is. How often we use it. Have you thought about how important it is to life? There would be no life without it. When our astronomers search the universe for signs of life, the first thing they seek is signs of water. Consider that water has three forms. It can be just plain water, or it can be in the form of steam, or it can be in the form of ice. By the way, as ice, it is lighter than when in the water stage. Remember that it floats on water. Where would fish live in the cold areas of our planet if ice didn't float?
The sun is very important for heat and light. What would we do without it? The very important factor when considering the anthropic principle is that the sun is the exact correct distance from the earth. Consider scientists tell us the temperature on Mars is a minus 70 degrees below zero and that of Mercury is 860 degrees.
Consider also the fact that the earth's orbit around the sun is circular while the orbits of other planets are elliptical, causing temperatures to vary wildly depending how close or how far away from the sun they might be. The earth's 231βΡ2 degree tilt allows the seasons of the earth. It has been estimated that almost half of the earth's surface would become uninhabitable without the tilt and less than half of the present land for cultivation for crops would grow vegetation.
Consider the rotation speed of our earth. Scientists tell us that our speed as we rotate around the sun is 1,002 miles per hour. Scientists also tell us that speed is exactly correct to counterbalance the force of gravity.
We have known about gravity for most of our lives. But did you know how fine-tuned the force of gravity is? We all know that 0.1 equals 1 chance of 10, 0.01 equals one chance of 100, etc. There are those who have examined the forces of nature and have analyzed their fine tuning. Two of those have come up with the same range of chance: They say that if we were to change the strength of gravity by .000000000000000000000000000000001 percent, we would not be here.
Yes, there are 31 zeroes. Talk about fine tuning.
What about the size of the earth? Scientists tell us that if it were smaller, it would not have the gravitational pull to retain water on the earth. If it were twice its present size, weight would increase by 8 times. And that includes you and me.
No, I am not going to go into the more than a hundred of the necessary provisions for our life here on earth. They are all fascinating to know about and to see their importance. Many of them pertain to our bodies and are absolutely required for our survival. I will give you three more and save some for next time.
The balance of gases in the universe is absolutely essential for our living here on earth. The earth's atmosphere comprises 78 percent nitrogen, 28 percent oxygen, and a few others of minute amounts. Hydrogen is necessary, for example, for the makeup of water (H2O). There are many more gases of great importance.
Did you know that the planet Jupiter is a friend of ours? Scientists tell us Jupiter is in just the right place to intercept space missiles such as meteors, asteroids, comets, etc., which would likely be aimed at us.
There is an electromagnetic force that must be precisely balanced with gravity to allow the existence of the universe. It is that force which holds atoms together and is sometimes called the "strong nuclear force."
I hope this might cause you to appreciate more fully the wonderful world we live in and to know how precisely it is tuned for our living in it.
There has been a feud for many years as to whether religion and science can coexist. Here is what Albert Einstein said, "Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind." Scientists agree that there is much more cooperation between these practices now than in the past.
Arris Johnson, Hays, is a member of the Generations Advisory Group.