PDF Download - [DOWNLOAD]
grandeur and splendor of the universe has always challenged the mind of
man. It taunts him with the unknown. Where did it all come from? Why
does it exist? Is there any purpose behind it? Is our existence the
result of intelligence or are we mere cosmic orphans adrift on the
ocean of time and space? Many do not know. Yet answers are available.
man looks up to the starry heavens on a clear night, somehow he
innately senses that the universe is no accident. But most of us go to
and fro over this earth, busy with our little affairs, serenely
indifferent to the real significance of the vastness of time and space.
We take little note of the majestic canopy of stars stretched over our
Seldom do we ponder such questions as: What is the
universe? Where did it all come from? When did it begin? Who made it?
Is planet earth unique in the universe? Is man alone in the universe?
Or do alien minds on a distant planet plumb the night pondering the
Over the past few decades, the efforts of
science have made available to mankind an impressive reservoir of
information about the universe. Never has man known more about the
heavens, yet less about why he exists. This booklet presents, in brief,
a panorama of both "what" and "why," bringing into focus meaning that
has somehow eluded humanity since the dawn of civilization.
A Mind-Stretching Perspective
daring to step into the arena of origins —^ one should first appreciate
the immensity of space and the awesome power of its elements. The first
and most obvious disadvantage confronting any seeker-of-truth is the
vastness of scale. For sheer size alone the universe is impossible to
conceptualize. Despite the apparent simplicity of a starry night, the
universe is a master at hiding the evidence.
One science writer provided the following description:
we make a scale model where the distance from the earth to the sun ...
is just under one quarter of an inch. Now take a dime [or a half new
penny] out of your purse [or pocket]. On the scale of our model the
orbits of the four inner planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars fit
comfortably on this coin with the orbit of Mars represented by the
circumference. . . . The orbit of Neptune, the outermost large planet,
will be fourteen inches across. . . .
. . . And on the scale of our model where will the nearest star be? Exactly one mile
away from the dime. This is the closest star. The center of our star
system or galaxy would be over six thousand miles [or the air distance
from Los Angeles, California to London, England] from the dime, and the
millions of other galaxies very much further away.1 (Emphasis ours
Even on this vastly reduced scale the size and immensity of the universe is truly "mind boggling."
The Awesome Power of the Sun
spend our lives on a natural Spaceship Earth — a massive sphere
approximately 8000 miles in diameter. Although it seems "suspended in
space," the earth weighs in at six thousand million, million, million
Dominating our skies is that life-giving orb we know as
the sun. It is a blazing nuclear furnace over 100 times the diameter of
the earth — comprised of sufficient matter to make up another 300,000
planets like our own.
The total [emphasis theirs] energy the Sun
emits in a single second would be sufficient to keep a one-kilowatt
electric fire burning for 10,000 million million years. Put in a
different way, the energy the sun emits in one second is greater than
the whole amount of energy the human species has consumed throughout
its entire history.
But only a tiny fraction (about one
two-billionth) of this two thousand million, million, million, million
ton orb's energy falls on the earth. But, even considering this, the
solar energy penetrating to the earth's surface exceeds the entire
annual energy consumption of all the world's industries by more than
Our sun, for all its seemingly massive size, is
itself surrounded by a solar system that extends outward into space for
a staggering 3,700 million miles. Within this vast area are nine
planets, 32 moons, thousands of asteroids, millions of comets, and
innumerable dust particles and molecules. Even so, our solar system is
but a tiny fleck of cosmic driftwood in an infinitesimal corner of the
Our Awesome Universe
to the entire stellar panorama, our sun and its solar family of planets
are but inconspicuous pin-pricks of light lost in a flowing sea of
we call the Milky Way. The dimensions of this vast starry cluster defy
comprehension — several thousand million million miles! It rotates in
space like a giant pinwheel with star-studded arms spiralling out from
its center. Somewhere along one of these galactic "extremities" is our
insignificant sun and its nine tiny planets.
Yet even our
gargantuan galaxy (including thousands of millions of stars) is
virtually lost in the total population of space. Far beyond our Milkv
Way, the universe abounds with additional thousands of millions of
Taking an estimate of the grand total of all the stars
in the known visible universe, we arrive at ' the staggering sum of
1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 or more. There is also the very real
possibility that the universe extends far beyond the limits of present
astronomical observation. No matter how we describe the universe, it is
Man has always wondered if all this could be
accidental. Did our universe simply "come into being" sometime in the
distant past? Or have all the billions of stars and dramatic forces
that govern them always been here? And is there a fundamental reason
why the universe exists?
man's recorded history, scholars have continually pondered the meaning
of the cosmos, trying to discover answers to the age-old questions:
Where did everything come from, and what was its meaning?
the time of Christ, Diodorus of Sicily related how many thinkers of his
day considered the universe to be eternal and self-existent with no
definite beginnings. In Plato's day the universe was thought to have resulted from purely natural happenstance.
the classical Greek period, little scholarly thought was given to the
matter of beginnings until about the 18th century. At that time
Immanuel Kant formulated a hypothesis for the origin of the solar
system. Kant's idea was later developed by the French astronomer
LaPlace and became popularly known as the Nebular Hypothesis. Simply
stated, it postulated that our sun and its family of planets condensed
out of a cloud of gas. The concept remained in vogue until the 19th
century when it foundered on the rocks of advancing astronomical
In more recent times, sophisticated instrumentation
has enabled scientists to become much more aware of the immensity of
space. As a result, theories merely for the origin of our tiny solar
system have faded from the limelight of scientific speculation in favor
of ideas concerning the origin of the entire universe.
scientific thinking on the origin of the universe began in the late
1920s. Astronomers then discovered that the cosmos was apparently
rapidly expanding, in analogy like a giant inflatable rubber balloon.
This led to the formulation of the "big-bang" theory. Today it is the
most generally accepted model for the origin of the present universe.
primarily to the late Russian-born astrophysicist, George Gamow, the
big-bang theory stipulates that the universe had its beginning in a
massive primordial cloud about 10,000 million years ago. In this cloud
was an extremely hot, dense "soup" of the fundamental particles that
now make up all the matter we observe in space. As originally conceived
by Gamow, there was a giant explosion that formed — within minutes —
all the elements of the universe. Since that time all the matter now
condensed into stars, planets, etc., has been rushing outward into
space in a giant expansion.
However, as time went on it became
apparent that the initial big-bang could not totally account for the
existence of many of the heavier elements found in the universe. In
addition, little can or has been said concerning what initial force or
energy was responsible for producing the super-hot temperatures and
densities found in the initial "soup" of fundamental particles.
cosmological thinking now holds that the chemical elements were
produced by nuclear reactions that are occurring in the interiors of
most stars. But support for this theory primarily rests on limited
earthbound laboratory observation and theoretical calculation — not on
actual observation. There remains some uncertainty of what actually
takes place deep inside stellar interiors.
An alternate to the
big bang, although now more or less fallen from favor, is the
steady-state theory. Steady-state proponents, as did many
thinkers centuries earlier, suggest that we are living in an eternal,
never-ending universe that has always been here and always will be.
There is no need for an initial creation process because, somehow, new
matter has continually been created in order to maintain a balanced,
Although considered to be a very attractive
answer by many scientists for a number of years, steady-state thinking
eventually ran into some awkward difficulties.
First of all,
science has no observational evidence for new matter coming into
existence naturally in space, although in the laboratory it has been
possible to change energy into minute atomic particles in high-speed
particle accelerators. Secondly, it is a well-established observational
fact that the universe is undergoing an irreversible energy "rundown."
Eventually it will figuratively "run out of gas." This is why
steady-state thinking has speculated that new matter (and thus new
sources of energy) are somehow slowly, constantly coming into existence.
third concept has been suggested that solves some of the gaps in the
big-bang theory. Known as the oscillating-universe theory, it
incorporates major aspects of both the big-bang and steady-state
This concept suggests, like the steady-state theory,
that the universe has always been here. But throughout time all the
matter in space has alternately collapsed inward to form the giant
cloud of the "big-bang" theory, only to explode again and begin rushing
outward. In this way the universe has eternally oscillated between
expansion and contraction. At present we are merely in one of the
Ultimate Origins Missing
so, scientists continue to look for solutions. All of the great
observatories are busy trying to determine which model, steady state,
big bang, or a synthesis of the two, best fits the rapidly growing body
of astronomical knowledge. Yet in all of it, most scientists recognize
that they are not actually addressing the really important question of
where the universe came from originally. All current investigation is
aimed at establishing what happened once all the laws, matter, space,
time and energy were already in existence. As the late astronomer
Harlow Shapley said a few years ago:
We appear, therefore, to be rather helpless with regard to explaining the origin of the
universe. But once it is set going, we can do a little better at
interpretation .... With bold advances in cosmogony we may in the
future hear less of a Creator and more of such things as "antimatter,"
"mirror worlds," and "closed space-time."
Before his conclusion, though, he reflected:
however, may elude us. That the whole universe evolves can be our
reasonable deduction, but just why it evolves, or from where, or where
to — the answers to these may be among the unknowable.
Robert Jastrow, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, adds:
. . . Science offers no satisfactory answer to one of the most profound questions to
occupy the mind of man — the question of beginning and end.
James A. Coleman, professor of science and popular science writer, says:
cosmology and cosmogony, like other branches of science, are concerned
with investigating the laws of the universe. They do not attempt to
answer questions relating to an Original Cause — that is, where the
laws of the universe came from or how they came into being.
Fred Hoyle even feels that asking such questions as "Where did matter come from?" is meaningless.
Why is there gravitation? Why do electric fields exist? Why is the universe?
we ask why the laws of physics . . . we enter into the territory of
metaphysics — the scientist at all events will not attempt an answer .
. . we must not go on to ask why.
individual stars which populate the universe are awesome all by
themselves. To the casual viewer on a clear night, most of them might
seem quite similar in appearance. In reality, vast differences exist
among the various members of the stellar population.
primarily classified by the type of light-rays they emit or by the
color of their radiated energy. At one end of the stellar light
spectrum are the ultraviolet giants with sizzling surface temperatures
about 50,000° F. (Our sun is a "mere" 10,000° F.) Because of their high
temperatures, these blue powerhouses give off most of their radiation
in the invisible ultraviolet range of the light spectrum. Their energy
consumption is prodigious. Rigel, for example, a blue giant 800 light
years away, pumps out power at 40,000 times the rate of the sun. When
you consider that our sun, a mere yellow dwarf, is using its hydrogen
fuel at the rate of 4.5 million tons a second, RigePs energy
consumption becomes gargantuan by comparison.
In stark contrast
to the "big blues," are the relatively "cool" red dwarfs. These
pint-sized nuclear generators are the most common type of star in the
cosmos and have surface temperatures in the range of 3000° F. to 5000°
F. They are difficult to detect because of their low luminosity and
because most of their energy is produced in the infrared region of the
By comparison to our sun, the red dwarfs are
energy misers. Wolf 359, one of the faintest stars known, has a
diameter of only 3% the size of our own sun, and faintly emits only
about one fifty-thousandth as much energy. Kruger 60B, another nearby
red dwarf, is approximately one eighth the size of the sun, but
radiates only four ten-thousandths as much light.
In between these two extremes is a wide variety of orange, yellow, and white stars with varying degrees of mass and brightness.
A Friendly Star
is more than significant, however, that our sun lies about half way up
the scale of star types — both in terms of size and luminosity. As a
yellow star, with a radius just under a million miles, the sun
generates its energy predominantly in t he visible part of the
spectrum. If it didn't, life as we know it on the earth would be
impossible. On the one extreme, light from a hot blue star, being
predominantly ultraviolet, would render most forms of life that we are
familiar with impossible. The smaller red stars would also be unable to
support any reasonable biosphere because of an inadequate supply of
In this respect, Sir James Jeans, the famous
British astronomer, drew an interesting contrast in order to illustrate
some of the vast differences that exist among various members of the
If the sun is represented by an ordinary
candle. Wolf 359 and L 789-6 [two of the faintest stars discovered] are
both something less than fireflies, while S Doradus [a star 300,000
times as bright as the sun] is a lighthouse — and the supernovae are
cities on fire. If the sun started to emit as much light and heat as S
Doradus, the temperature of the earth and everything on it would run up
to about 7000 degrees, so that both we and the solid earth would
disappear into a cloud of vapour. On the other hand, if the sun's
emission of light and heat were suddenly to sink to that of [red dwarf]
Wolf 359, people at the earth's equator would find that their new sun
only gave as much light and heat at mid-day as a coal fire two hundred
yards away; we should all be frozen solid, even the earth's atmosphere
being frozen solid around us.
Multiple and Variable Stars
fortunate fact about our solar system is that it has but one star. Most
of the stars are found in multiple star groups of two's, threes, fours
and more. The proportion of stars that are "multiples" is surprisingly
high. Various sources estimate that as many as three quarters of all the
stars in the universe are multiple systems. We don't usually appreciate
this fact when we look up into the heavens, because of the close
proximity of multiples to one another.
Alpha Centauri, the
nearest star to our sun, is actually a system of three stars. The two
main stars of the trio are similar to our sun; one slightly larger and
more luminous, the other cooler and smaller. Both are orbited by a tiny
red dwarf star called Proxima Centauri.
Sirus A, the brightest
star in the sky, is another good example. It is nearly twice as hot as
our sun and roughly 1 Vi times its diameter. Its companion, Sirius B,
is a faint, white dwarf star only one ten-thousandth as bright as its
companion, Sirius A.
Some double stars, or binaries, are so
close that their mutual attraction causes huge eruptions of tidal gas
to pass back and forth between the two stars. Other binaries appear to
vary in brightness because they periodically eclipse one another.
class of variable stars known as Ceph-eids have been observed to
undergo periodic fluctuations in their brightness without the help of
an eclipsing partner. Some of these quick-blinking stellar lighthouses
have flare-up intervals of only a few hours duration. These variations
are thought to be produced by a "panting" action due to expansion and
contraction of the star's skin.
stars may vary radically in size and the amount of light they radiate,
they all follow similar patterns of aging and development. All of them
are essentially giant nuclear furnaces that generate energy by
converting hydrogen into helium by the same basic process used in the
hydrogen bomb. In the course of this hydrogen-helium conversion
process, matter is transformed into energy according to Einstein's
well-known equation E = MC\ This accounts for the stupendous light and
heat radiated by all stars.
But like any energy source, stars
have only a limited amount of fuel. As it burns, the star is
continually depleting its stock of hydrogen and at the same time
building up a deposit of helium "ash." Eventually these "wastes" grow
to the point where the internal forces of the star are thrown out of
balance. The star is then rudely jolted out of its previously tranquil
state and rapidly balloons in size as the rate of its fuel consumption
dramatically increases. At this point a normal star like our sun would
become what is termed a "red giant." More massive stars would end up in
the "supergiant" category.
A Perspective of Giants
of these abnormal stars are immense. For example, Epsilon Aurigae, the
largest known star so far observed in the universe, has a diameter
approximately 2000 times that of the sun. This red colossus, were it to
replace our sun at the center of the solar system, would extend out
past the orbit of Saturn! It has an unbelievable diameter of 2,500
million miles. Antares, another familiar super-giant, has a diameter
"only" 450 times that of the sun. Compared to Epsilon Aurigae, it is
"junior" sized. But placed in the center of our solar system it would
nevertheless consume the orbit of Mars.
Yet for all their size,
the red giants are in reality a lot of hot air — literally! Under the
right circumstances one can actually "see through" them, because their
constituency is so thin. Astronomers in one case have actually been
able to observe another star through the transparent layers of one of
these tenuous red giants. Their matter is so rarefied that it is
comparable to the best vacuum man can produce in the laboratory.
Pricking the Balloon
red giant in its super-bloated state can't exist that way forever. This
phase of a star's existence is relatively short compared to the long
"normal" phase when it was consuming fuel at a more leisurely pace. As
the star's temperature continues to rise because of the pressure
exerted by gravitational energy, the helium ash in its core itself
becomes fuel in a new but less efficient type of nuclear reaction. The
waste products of this new combustion process also provide fuel for yet
another "weightier" type of reaction. This chain of events, according
to astronomers, eventually leads to the formation of heavier elements
such as magnesium, neon, silicon and oxygen. But eventually a point is
reached (with the formation of iron) where the elements become too
heavy to trigger any further reactions. Consequently, more and more of
the nuclear fuel is exhausted until the star finally collapses under
the increasing pressure of its internal gravity.
At this point
scientists believe the following events occur depending on the size of
the star. Smaller stars simply contract and die away as they use up
their remaining fuel, becoming white dwarfs in the process. When the
residue of their fuel is exhausted, they cease their active existence
and become burned-out black cinders floating in space.
Larger stars (greater than 1.4 times the mass of
the sun) share a less placid fate. Instead of meekly flickering out,
they die with a roar, producing the spectacular phenomenon called by
astronomers a nova. The forces unleashed in this type stellar
degeneration are so titanic as to be beyond earth-bound comparisons.
nova is in theory brought on by a rapid collapse of the star as the
flickering nuclear fires can no longer stand up under dwindling fuel
supplies and the crush of gravity. This suddenly produces temperatures
that can exceed a thousand million degrees Fahrenheit. This, in turn,
detonates a massive thermonuclear explosion of gargantuan proportions.
It's as if a whole star had been converted into a gigantic hydrogen
bomb. In fact, one source estimated the energy released by one such
explosion was equivalent to one trillion trillion (British: billion,
billion) hydrogen bombs (1 followed by 24 zeros!).2
Astronomers call the largest of this type of stellar bombast a supernova. One writer described it like this:
huge thermal energy ... is thereby converted into radiation so intense
that the visible light coming from the exploding star is almost as
bright as that which comes from an entire galaxy of 100 billion
[thousand million] ordinary stars . . .
If the mass of material
in the outer layers of an exploding star is about equal to the mass of
our sun . . . the energy released per second in the explosion is
comparable to the energy output of our sun over a billion [thousand
A Star Is Born
of such a cosmic catastrophe emerge the shattered remnants of the old
star, but in a radically altered state. The gravitational forces
responsible for the explosion in the first place now hold the remaining
stellar material in such a tenacious grip that it is compressed into
extremely high densities. Theoretically, if the explosion isn't too
violent, the stellar remains become configured as a white dwarf star.
dwarfs are Lilliputians even compared to a medium star like our sun.
Most of them are roughly equivalent to the earth in terms of size and
diameter, but are stellar heavyweights when it comes to density. Sirius
B, a well-known white dwarf, is only twice as big as the earth, yet has
approximately the same mass as the sun. In other
words, it's about
12,000 times heavier than the earth. On Sirius B, the Empire State
Building would be shrunk to the size of a pin and yet have the same
On a white dwarf, a pea would weigh more than a truck,
or as one author stated, "a ping-pong ball filled with its substance
would have the mass of several elephants."5
And yet for all this compression, the white dwarf is quite spacious when compared to its smaller cousin, the neutron star.
Neutron Stars — Dynamic Bantams
theorize that if a supernova explosion is particularly violent, the
stellar remains will condense even further than the white-dwarf stage
to form what has become one of the most fascinating discoveries of
modern astronomy — the neutron star. By comparison even the white
dwarfs are huge. Imagine squeezing all the matter of the sun down into
a tiny sphere about 10 miles in diameter and you have the approximate
density of a neutron star. Densities are on the order of a thousand
million tons per cubic inch. This is equivalent to "all the people in
the world compressed into a single raindrop.""
ball that had the mass of several elephants on a white dwarf would now
"have the mass of a large asteroid such as Juno, a minor planet 118
Incredible densities like this cannot be
achieved unless the atomic structure of the matter involved is
fundamentally altered. The gravitational force exerted in a neutron
star is so strong that it can theoretically overcome the normal
repulsive forces that exist between electrons and protons within the
atom/ This impaction of atomic particles essentially removes much of
the "open space" that formerly existed bet ween the nucleus of the atom
and its electrons. Result: superdense matter.
Beacons in the Sky
until the late 1960s astronomers had postulated the existence of
neutron stars, but never had they found any observational evidence of
one in the universe. However, in 1967 and 1968, radio astronomers in
Cambridge, England discovered the first of a series of small new
celestial objects which they called pulsars — because of a series of
strange, and at first baffling radio pulses that they emitted.
Subsequent investigation revealed that neutron stars were undoubtedly
the source for these pulsars. The clincher was the discovery of a
pulsar in the Crab Nebula, the remnants of asupernova explosion first observed by the Chinese in 1054 A.D.
quickly realized that the radio pulses were due to the rotation of the
neutron stars. The frequency of the pulse was found to match the
rotational speed. The neutron star in the Crab Nebula, then, was
determined to be revolving at the incredible speed of 30 times a second
— a rotational velocity comparable to that of a modern electric
generator! And essentially that's just what the neutron star is — a
giant, self-propelled stellar dynamo, radiating energy into outer
space. The total energy production of the Crab pulsar is something on
the order of 10:u watts (1 followed by 31 zeros!). "It would take the
radiation from 100,000 stars like the sun to match this power output.'"
The same author pointed out that "in the time interval of a single
pulse — about l/30th second — the Crab pulsar pours out as much energy
in X rays alone as our sun emits at all wave lengths over a period of
10 seconds."1" But this stellar dynamo, whirling in the heavens like a
superpowered lighthouse, is more than just an ordinary electrical and
optical generator. According to astronomers it also hurls out highly
charged electrons and protons, in a similar fashion to a man-made
atomic particle accelerator.
The Ultimate in Stellar Collapse
even the neutron star/pulsar is not the grand-daddy of stellar energy
bundles. Theoretically it is possible for the collapse of a star to
so violent, that it passes beyond the neutron stage to become what
astronomers call a "black hole." Even the name sounds sinister. But the
black hole is everthing its name implies. It's so "uptight" with its
matter and so dense that nothing but gravity can theoretically escape
its clutches once inside its sphere of influence. That's why it is
black. No light escapes from its surface.
A black hole is
thought to be no more than four miles in diameter, or roughly a third
as large as neutron stars. You might liken it to a giant celestial
vacuum cleaner. It absorbs everything in its vicinity. One author put
it this way: "Light shot at it falls in. A particle shot at it falls in
[never to reemerge].... In these senses the system is a black hole.""
Although there are indications that black holes do exist, none have
definitely been observed to date. Hopefully, if we ever do discover
them, it will be from a safe distance — or else.
What bizarre and yet magnificent wonders the universe contains!
'Sir James Jeans, The Universe Around Us, 4th revised edition (New York, 1960), pp. 179-180.
Fred Hoyle, Frontiers of Astronomy (New York, 1955), plate XXIX.
'Seymour Tilson, "Pulsars May Be Neutron Stars." IEEE Spectrum (February 1970), p. 55.
'Fritz Kahn, Design of the Universe (New York, 1954), pp. 60, 61.
'Roger Penrose, "Black Holes," Scientific American (May 1972), p. 38.
"Malvin A. Ruderman, "Solid Stars," Scientific American (February 1971), p. 24.
'Penrose, p. 38.
"Theoretically, when electrons and protons are driven together neutrons would be formed. Hence the name "neutron star."
"Tilson, p. 49. "Tilson, p. 50.
"Remo Ruffini and John A. Wheeler, "Introducing the Black Hole," Physics Today (January 1971), p. 34.
Modern Theories on the Origin of the Universe
to the 1920s relatively little was known about the structure of the
universe outside of our own galaxy. Until that time there were no
telescopes powerful enough to enable astronomers to probe the depths of
space. But with the advent of the 100-inch reflecting telescope on Mt.
Wilson, the curtain began to rise on the heavens beyond our Milky Way.
the flood of new data came pouring in through the lenses of these newly
constructed glass giants, astronomers began to engender a host of new
theories to explain what they saw.
A Primordial Explosion
first major theory to come out of this cosmological revolution was the
big-bang hypothesis. The earliest version was introduced by the Belgian
scientist Abbe Georges Lemaitre in 1931. He postulated that the
universe originated from a single stupendous primeval "atom" which he
termed a "cosmic egg." This atom was so unstable that it disintegrated
in a catastrophic explosion that sent its shattered fragments rushing
outward into space.
However, Lemaitre's theory failed to account
for all the various elements currently found in the universe. And more
fundamental weaknesses were: "How could a huge atom like this form, and
where did it come from?"1
Most astronomers have admitted that Lemaitre's theory has only historical value.
more prominent "big bang" theory is the one put forth by George Gamow
and others. In his hypothesis, Gamow speculated that the universe began
with a huge primordial superheated cloud containing a "soup" of all the
fundamental particles within one vast "atom." Temperatures in the cloud
were on the order of several million degrees Fahrenheit. About ten
thousand million years ago, there was a giant explosion. Within
approximately 30 minutes all the particles in the exploded cloud
combined to form all the elements in the universe.
into existence. Then came helium, beryllium, boron — and all the rest.
The newly formed matter eventually cooled and condensed to form the
galaxies, stars and other stellar phenomena which astronomers now see
rapidly expanding into outer space.
Lithium Fizzles the Big Bang
logical as all of this sounds, the Gamow big-bang theory runs into
difficulties as early as the formation of the third element in the
periodic table of 92 natural elements. Lithium, coming after helium in
the classical periodic table of elements, is so unstable that it
immediately reverses the reaction and breaks down into helium. Since
lithium could not be formed by this type of reaction, it would prevent
the big bang from proceeding to the next higher element in the periodic
table. Consequently the formation of all the known elements from such
an explosion would be impossible.
. . There was a tendency to reject the above model [Gamow's Theory],
and to make the half-joking remark that "Gamow's theory is a wonderful
way to build up the elements all the way up to helium." Recent
developments have indicated that this statement should be taken
ten thousand million degree "soup" sounded good, but unfortunately
"when Gamow and his collaborators got down to detailed calculations
they met a snag that proved insuperable."5
Ralph Alpher and Robert Herman, Gamow's colleagues, discussed the problem:
process could not go beyond helium . . . and even if it spanned this
gap it would be stopped again at mass . . . . This basic
objection to Gamow's theory is a great disappointment, in view of the
promise and philosophical attractiveness of the idea.
if the big-bang reaction were possible, a more serious problem still
remains: Where did the initial matter come from? Gamow himself admits
that he takes the existence of matter for granted: "The story begins
... with space uniformly filled with an unbelievably hot and dense
Change in Theory
fundamental concept of how the elements were formed has since been
discarded by many leading cosmologists. They now feel that the elements
were initially synthesized by nuclear reactions that apparently took
place in the interior of stars.
The most basic and familiar of
these reactions is the fusion of hydrogen atoms into helium, the same
process that man has harnessed in the hydrogen bomb. When a star
exhausts its supply of hydrogen, it theoretically would then use its
helium in a "weightier" type of reaction that would produce yet a
heavier element such as carbon or neon. Carbon and neon would in turn
become fuel for yet another round of element-producing reactions.
However, this chain of events can go no further than iron in the
periodic table, so astronomers have postulated that the heavier
elements were formed by a process known as "neutron capture."
fact, four different types of reactions are necessary to complete the
cycle of nuclear synthesis within the stars, and even then there are
still shortcomings. For instance, certain light elements (deuterium,
beryllium, boron, lithium) cannot be produced in stellar interiors, so
cosmologists theorize that they were formed by a specialized process on
the surfaces of stars. Also the relative abundance of elements observed
in various parts of the universe does not always agree with expected
results." Another difficulty lies in the synthesis of helium.
Cosmologists aren't in agreement on how it was formed. As one scientist
can therefore not yet claim to have settled this question [helium
synthesis] which is so important for the nuclear origin of helium and
the general understanding of the universe.
Even assuming that these and other difficulties are ironed out, there is still one fundamen-
weakness to this whole approach of how the elements were formed. It is
based on what theoretically could occur — not on a positive knowledge
of what actually happened.
The Oscillating Theory
oscillating universe theory was formulated to fill in some of the
missing dimensions the big-bang theory seemed to lack. Unlike the big
bang, it postulates that the universe has existed for an infinite
length of time, and that presently observed outward expansion of the
galaxies (presumably caused by a "big bang") is merely one phase of a
type of continual motion.
According to this theory, matter in
the universe cannot continue to expand indefinitely, but will
eventually slow down and collapse under the pull of gravity, until it
is dense enough to detonate another big-bang explosion. In this way the
universe will alternately expand and contract in between each big bang.
Gamow again explains:
Big Squeeze which took place in the early history of our universe was
the result of a collapse which took place at a still earlier era, and
the present expansion is simply an "elastic" rebound which started as
soon as the maximum permissible squeezing density was reached
Gamow went on to say: "... Nothing can be said about the pre-squeeze era of the universe.'"
is claimed that the composition of the universe before the "Big
Squeeze" was obliterated by the "bang," so we don't know what thus
pre-squeeze universe was like nor what laws governed it.
astronomers, however, admit that there is no known force in the
universe — including gravity — strong enough to so dramatically reverse
the motion of out-rushing galaxies. One author expressed it this way:
question we have to answer ... is what can have made the contraction
slow down, cease, and change to expansion . . . we ask why the
collapsing cluster of stars should slow down, stop, and then fly
At present, we have no answer: no physical mechanism which would reverse the contraction has yet been discovered.
oscillating-universe theory also has problems with the second law of
thermodynamics. This law states that the universe is irreversibly
proceeding from a state of order to one of disorder and dissipation.
But the oscillating theory would somehow allow the universe to
periodically "recharge" its batteries during its contraction phase
instead of continually running down. This type of "perpetual motion"
universe — like the fabled machine — just isn't possible.
big-bang theory dominated the field of cosmological thinking until the
late 1940s. But by that time some leading astronomers had become
dissatisfied with certain of its implications and proceeded to develop
an opposing model of the universe known as the steady-state theory.
by British cosmologists Hermann Bondi and Thomas Gold in 1948 and later
expanded by Fred Hoyle, the steady-state theory maintains that the
universe never really had an initial start. Instead, the creation
process has gone on continuously throughout time.
Underlying the steady-state theory is a fundamental uniformitarian philosophy. One text puts it this way:
the theory of continuous creation there is no necessity for any
recourse to an Original Cause because the creation process is assumed
to be an every-day process ....
What, they ask, is so sacred about creation?"
advocates claim that new matter (hydrogen) is being spontaneously
created out of nothing! They claim the amount could never be calculated
or observed physically, so there is no way to scientifically prove if
such a miracle is really occurring.
Laws of Thermodynamics
the steady-state model is true, it would be in perpetual contradiction
to one of the fundamental laws of physics. The idea of a continuous
creation of matter violates the law of conservation of matter and
energy. This law, known as the first law of thermodynamics, states that
matter and energy can be transformed in various ways but cannot be
created or destroyed.
Steady-state theorists reply however, that:
universe, taken as a whole, constitutes a closed system within which
the energy leaving the system in the matter disappearing over the edge
is exactly counterbalanced by the energy introduced in the form of
claim that the total energy of the universe remains constant even
though new matter and energy are continually being created.
the second law of thermodynamics sheds further light on the question of
the "eternity" of the universe. This law demonstrates that the universe
tends to "run down," or progress from a state of greater order toward a
state of greater disorder and randomness. All processes in nature that
we can observe are accompanied by an increase in what is known in
thermodynamics as entropy. As the entropy of any system increases, the
amount of available energy to do work decreases.
The second law
of thermodynamics shows us that the amount of energy available for
useful work in the universe is steadily decreasing and will eventually
be all used up. The same total amount of energy will continue to exist,
but more and more of it will be transformed into an unusable state.
can easily be illustrated by examining any typical energy converter —
such as the gasoline engine. The usable energy in the gasoline is
transferred into heat, power, motion, etc. But this transformed energy,
although it still exists in various states, is no longer available in a
usable form. In addition, more total energy went into producing the
gasoline (oil in its natural state) than was expended in the combustion
process. In short, more energy went into the production of the
gasoline, than we can get out of it.
Now, let's apply both the
first and second laws of thermodynamics to the total universe. The
first law says that the total energy level in the universe is constant.
The second law says that of the total energy, more is constantly
becoming unusable. Consequently, there is a limit to how long the
available energy in the universe will last. The process cannot go on
indefinitely, or the universe would figuratively "run out of gas." This
means it is impossible for the universe to have existed for an infinite
period of time as the steady-state theory maintains.
The aging process of stars is another good example. In the course of its nuclear combustion a star
gradually builds up an accumulation of degenerate nuclear waste which
is subsequently re-used, but in a less efficient type of fusion
process. Ultimately when the residue material, through a progressive
series of nuclear reactions, reaches a certain atomic weight, the
energy conversion process can go no further and the star dies.
stars that undergo a more catastrophic aging process, much of their
energy is dissipated in a climactic "supernova" explosion. The residue
star, whether neutron or white dwarf, simply calls on the last dregs of
its stellar energy in order to actively maintain itself. But these
prolific energy producers eventually flicker out and die as well.
foregoing simply demonstrates that the energy of the universe is being
consumed in an irreversible one-way downhill process. According to Sir
James Jeans, the noted British astronomer:
cannot run downhill forever, and like the clock weight, it must touch
bottom at last. And so the universe cannot go on forever, sooner or
later the time must come when its last erg of energy has reached the
lowest rung on the ladder of descending availability, and at this
moment the active life of the universe must cease. The energy is still
there, but it has lost all capacity for change; it is as little able to
work the universe as the water in a fiat pond is able to turn a
Lincoln Barnett, the author of The Universe and Dr. Einstein, likewise stated:
the phenomena of nature, visible and invisible, within the atom and in
outer space, indicate that the substance and energy of the universe are
inexorably diffusing like vapour through the insatiable void. The sun
is slowly but surely burning out, the stars are dying embers, and
everywhere in the cosmos heat is turning to cold, matter is dissolving
into radiation, and energy is being dissipated into empty space. . . .
And there is no way of avoiding this destiny. For the fateful principle
known as the second law of thermodynamics, which stands today as the
principal pillar of classical physics left intact by the march of
science, proclaims that the fundamental processes of nature are
irreversible. Nature moves just one way."
Barnett went on to say:
If the universe is running down and nature's processes are proceeding
in just one direction, the inescapable inference is that everything had
a beginning; somehow and sometime the cosmic processes were started ....
of the clues, moreover, that have been discovered at the inner and
outer frontier of scientific cognition suggest a definite time of
All roads of scientific evidence, then, point toward a time of definite beginnings, the steady-state theory notwithstanding.
the discoveries of quasars, radio galaxies, and other evidences of
large scale variations within the universe, the weight of scientific
opinion has shifted decidedly against the steady-state theory. Under
mounting observational pressure, Fred Hoyle announced in late 1965 his
"radical-departure hypothesis." Hoyle retained the idea of continuous
creation but allowed for deviations from a steady-state situation in
"local" areas of the universe. And since, he says, we cannot see out
beyond our local "bubble," it is difficult to prove or disprove the
theory from an observational standpoint.
Matter and Antimatter
speculation about the strange substance called "antimatter" has given
rise to another cosmological theory. The antimatter concept was
originated by Swedish physicist Oskar Klein and later expanded by
Hannes Alfven, an astrophysicist also from Sweden.
"antimatter" consists of atomic particles which are exactly the
opposite in composition to the electrons and protons we are familiar
with. Normal matter as we know it consists of positively charged
protons and negatively charged electrons. "Antimatter," on the other
hand, contains negatively charged protons (antiprotons) and positively
charged electrons (positrons). Particles of matter and antimatter
cannot coexist because they would mutually annihilate each other if
they were to collide.
According to the antimatter theorists, the
universe began with a thin cloud of what is known as ambiplasma,
consisting of both matter and antimatter. As the cloud contracted due
to gravitational forces, the particles of matter and
separation of matter and antimatter is crucial to the success of such a
formation process. Galaxies, stars, etc., could not be formed if the
two types of matter remained in close proximity because mutual
annihilation would result.
As Hannes Alfven, one of the leading proponents of the antimatter theory, stated:
antimatter began to mix and started the annihilation process. This
resulted in the generation of intense heat and nuclear energy which
tended to counteract the contracting effect of the gravitational
forces. As the annihilation process increased, it forced the ambiplasma
to expand and ultimately resulted in the formation of three separate
regions of the universe: an area of regular matter, one of antimatter
and a buffer zone in between.
stumbling block is that separation [of matter and antimatter] on a
large scale demands transportation of koinomatter [regular matter]
particles over huge distances away from the particles of antimatter.
Considering the time and the forces available, it is unlikely that the
transporting mechanisms could cope with such a task.
did go on to say that separation could occur with a modest start and
proceed from t here. However, he concluded this particular section by
... All these processes have still to be analyzed in depth; until then, our discussion cannot be more than loosely speculative.
with the other t heories, we ask where did the original matter
(ambiplasma in this case) come from? Alfven also commented on this
do not venture to say how the cloud of ambiplasma [what Klein's theory
starts with] originated . . . we simply assume the existence of the
cloud and go on to show that by gravitation it would begin to contract
(We might also add, he is assuming the existence of a contracting gravitational force as well.)
a fundamental reason why scientific theory cannot adequately account
for the existence of the universe. It involves a missing dimension that
is noticeably absent from scientific speculation. It is introduced and
explained in the main text.
When all the dust — or antimatter,
ambiplasma, and super-eggs clears, we are left with no scientific
answer to our original question —"Where does it all come from?"
'William Bonnor. The Mystery of the Expanding Universe (New York 1964), p. 115.
A G W. Cameron and Stephen P. Moran, "Relativistic Astrophysics," Science (September 29, 1967), p. 1517.
Bonnor, p 113
'William A. Fowler, "The Origin of the Elements," Scientific American (September 1956). pp 87-88
George Gamow, The Birth and Death of the Sun (New York. 1952), p. 203.
W. David Arnett, Carl J. Hansen, J. W Truran and A G W Cameron, ed.. Nucleosynthesis (New York, 1968).
Lawrence H. Allerand Dean B McLaughlin, ed.. Stars and Stellar Systems Stellar Structure. Vol VIII (Chicago. 1965).
Albrech 0. S Unsold, "Stellar Abundance and the Origin of the Elements. Science (March 7, 1969), pp. 1015-1025.
Donald D. Clayton, "The Origin of the Elements," Physics Today (May 1969), p. 29.
George Gamow, The Creation of the Universe (New York, 1961), p 29
'Gamow, The Creation of the Universe, p. 30
"Bonnor, p. 121.
"James A Coleman. Modern Theories of the Universe (New York. 1963), p. 194
i:Coleman. p 165
' Sir James Jeans. The Universe Around Us, 4th revised edition (New York, 1960), p 279
"Lincoln Barnett, The Universe and Dr Einstein (New York. 1948), p 99-100
' Barnett. p. 103.
Hannes Alfven. Worlds-Antiworlds (San Francisco, 1966), p. 85
rAlfven, p. 85.
"Hannes Alfven. "Anti-Matter and Cosmology," Scientific American (April 1 967), p 109
Diodorus of Sicily, writing about the time of Christ, tells us:
as regard the first origin of mankind, two opinions have arisen among
the best authorities both on nature and history. One group, which takes
the position that the universe did not come into being and will not
decay, has declared that the race of men also has existed from
eternity, there having never been a time when men were first begotten;
the other group, however, which holds that the universe came into being
and will decay, has declared that, like it, men had their first origin
at a definite time.
"When in the beginning .... the universe was
being formed, both heaven and earth was indistinguishable in
appearance, since their elements were intermingled: then, when their
bodies separated from one another, the universe took on in all its
parts the ordered form in which it is now seen" (Diodorus Siculus, Book
1, section 6).
"Fire and water and earth and
air, they [the philosophers and scientists of the ancient world] say,
all exist by nature and chance .... and by means of these, which are
wholly inanimate, the bodies which come next — those, namely, of the
earth, sun, moon and stars — have been brought into existence .... in
this way and by these means they have brought into being the whole
Heaven and all that is in the Heaven, and all animals, too, and plants
— after that all the seasons had arisen from these elements; and all
this, as they assert, not owing to reason, nor to any god or art, but
owing, as we have said to nature and chance" (Dialogues, Laws X,
But is it really meaningless for an astronomer to ask why?
Harlow Shapley made this pointed observation:
we ask the grand questions: "What is the ancestor of the hydrogen
atom?" [the assumed starting point of the universe] and "What is the
destiny of the metagalaxy?" [universe]. We ask the questions — [but we]
get no reply!"
Lincoln Barnett, writer of science books for the layman, tells us:
for the most part maintain silence on the question of ultimate origins,
leaving that issue to the philosophers and theology.''
Another author, Dean W. Wooldridge, is a little more emphatic.
what is [emphasis theirs] gravity, really? What causes it? Where does
it come from? How did it get started? The scientist has no answers . .
. Science can never tell us why the natural laws of physics exist or
where the matter that started the universe came from. It is good that
our ancestry invented the concept of the supernatural, for we need it
if we are to answer such questions.10
Dr. Jesse L. Greenstein,
astrophysicist at California Institute of Technology, said in regard to
the origin of the universe: "It is a terrible mystery how matter comes
out of nothing. Could it have been something outside science? We try to
stay out of philosophy and theology, but sometimes we are forced to
think in bigger terms, to go back to something outside science."11
The Missing Key
our knowledge of the universe and our place in it is to have a
comprehensive foundation, we must begin to recognize that science does
not provide all the answers. What it does provide is of course
important. But no matter how noble and precise the efforts of science
may indeed be, there is a limit to how far science can go.
is physical. Any conclusions drawn on scientific investigations can
also only be physical. That is not to demean science. But if man
expects to gain a knowledge of ultimate purposes, he must recognize as
do many scientists the absolute need of additional knowledge from an
There are many important issues in man's real
world that are based on criteria beyond the physical and scientific
world. Any truly educated man needs to avail himself of the evidence of
this intrinsic fact.
That is why man by science alone is unable to totally ascertain how the universe came into being.
humans, no matter how brilliant, cannot know the whole answer by
science alone. No man was on the scene when the universe began. And we
can't return to that time. Therefore, if our knowledge of beginnings is
to have comprehensive meaning, it must not disregard the evidence of
The biblical record describes a Personage who
claims to have answers of how to make the story complete. He says He is
the Creator of human beings, the Originator of the universe. He claims
power to intervene in the affairs of men and nations.
1:1 we are told by revelation — "In the beginning God created the
heavens and the earth." This is frankly the only answer available that
rests on authority. The solutions of science offer only ignorance of
ultimate origins. God's Word is the only way to complete the picture.
The Patriarch Job understood this:
[God] is wise in heart, and mighty in strength . . . which alone
spreadeth out the heavens . . . which makes Arcturus, Orion and
Pleiades (Job 9:4-9).
Again, through the Prophet Isaiah, God reveals Himself as the supreme architect of the universe.
whom then will ye liken God? . . .Have ye not known? Have ye not heard?
... It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the
inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the
heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in
(Isa. 40:18, 21-22).
This same God promised Abraham
in Genesis 22:17 that his seed would be "as the stars of the heaven,
and as the sand which is upon the sea shore." Clearly God was not
speaking of a small, localized universe consisting of only a few
God's Word, then, has the foundation — the
beginning — of why the universe is here and where it came from.
David tells us that the existence of the universe demonstrates God:
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork (Psalm 19:1).
Bible is full of statements declaring emphatically that God created the
universe; that He made man, our earth and the eco-systems around us.
The truth of this awesome universe's true origin only comes clear to
the man with the willingness to consider biblical revelation, and the
courage to place himself in harmony with the laws of the Creator
1. Peter Millman, This Universe of Space (Cambridge, Ma., 1962), pp. 15-16.
2. Fred Hoyle, Astronomy (Garden City, New York, 1 962), p. 232.
3. Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Solar Energy, Utilization of," Vol. 20 (Chicago, 1970), p. 854.
4. Sol Tax, ed.. The Evolution of Life: Evolution After Darwin, Vol. I (Chicago, 1960), p. 33.
5. Robert Jastrow, Red Giants and White Dwarfs (New York, 1967), p. 57.
6. James A. Coleman, Modern Theories of the Universe (New York, 1963), p, 197.
7. Fred Hoyle, Frontiers of Astronomy (New York, 1955), p. 342.
8. Harlow Shapley, Beyond the Observatory (New York, 1967), p. 30.
9. Lincoln Barnett, The Universe and Dr. Einstein (New York, 1948), p. 105.
10. Dean Wooldridge, The Machinery of Life (New York, 1966), p. 4.
11. Los Angeles Times, July 30, 1961, Vol. LXXX, Section E. pp. 11, 15.
How Old is the Universe ?
the last several decades the lay public and scientists alike have
witnessed numerous changes in the estimated age of the universe. At the
beginning of the 20th century astronomers thought the universe to be
millions of years old. Since that time, estimates have jumped into the
billions (thousand millions) of years. But just how much do scientists
know? To find out, let's briefly examine the background of some of the
figures currently in vogue.
Prior to the 1920s little was
understood concerning the structure and size of the universe as a
whole. Until that time optical telescopes had been too weak to enable
astronomers to determine whether some of the distant celestial
formations were single stars, nebulae, or galaxies.
major clue in unravelling some of these cosmic puzzles came in 1912
when an assistant at the Harvard Observatory, Henrietta Leavitt,
discovered that variable stars, known as Cepheids, fluctuated according
to how bright they were. Other astronomers such as Ejnar Hertzprung and
Harlow Shapley were quick to realize the implications of Miss Leavitt's
discovery. In effect, it meant that the Cepheid variables could be used
as a type of cosmic yardstick to gauge the distances of various
Using the Cepheid discovery, Shapley was
able to establish the form and dimensions of our home galaxy, the Milky
Way. Once the Milky Way was mapped, astronomers focused their attention
on the many stellar formations that appeared to be outside its
confines. Cosmological opinion was sharply divided on this issue. Many
astronomers felt that the distant nebulae and novae that were in
question were not so "distant" after all, but were located inside the
boundaries of the Milky Way.
The controversy that followed was
suddenly and dramatically ended in 1925 when Edwin Hubble of the Mount
Wilson Observatory surveyed the heavens for the first time with the
newly constructed 100-inch telescope — then the largest
existence. Hubble discovered that the distant celestial formations were
indeed "island universes" located deep in the vast reaches of outer
space, far beyond the confines of our own galaxy.
Hubble went on
to analyze the light emitted by these distant galaxies and found that
virtually all of them were moving away from us at colossal speeds. The
"red shift" observed in their light spectrum indicated that many were
rapidly receding at tens of thousands of miles a second. This meant
that the universe was apparently expanding like a giant rubber balloon.
then calculated how long this expansion would have been going on and
came up with an estimated age of the universe at 1.8 thousand million
years! But in short order even this figure was shown to be too low.
using radioactive minerals, independently derived an age for the earth
of about 4.7 thousand million years. But how could the earth be older
than the universe? Further investigation in the 1950s revealed an error
in one of Hubble's assumptions which when corrected pushed his estimate
up to the currently accepted figure of about 10 thousand million years.
This figure has been generally accepted by scientists and astronomers
since that time.
Another method cosmologists have used to
measure the age of the universe resulted from the discovery of
background microwave radiation by two Bell Telephone Lab engineers in
1965. Cosmologists theorized that this radiation was the residue of the
big-bang fireball which supposedly occurred millions of years ago. By
comparing the energy level of this radiation with the assumed energy
level in the fireball, they were able to calculate how long it has been
since this hypothetical explosion occurred. Their solution basically
agreed with that of other cosmologists who had estimated the age of the
universe using Hubble's red shift principle.
But this observational data on the age of the universe is far from being conclusive. In the first place,
scientists have yet to confirm whether the wave-length patterns of the
background radiation conform to theoretical expectations. Secondly,
background microwave measurements made outside the earth's atmosphere
in 1968 were about 30 times higher than those initially measured. And
more important still is the fact that this method of estimating cosmic
age is based on two giant assumptions: 1) that there was a big bang,
and 2) even given a big bang, that its initial temperature or energy
level is correctly known.
A Young Universe?
observational methods used by astronomers pose further questions
concerning cosmic age. One such method is based on observation of
groups of stars known as globular clusters. The larger more densely
populated clusters give evidence of having existed for as long as 25
thousand million years, while, on the other hand, many smaller clusters
appear to be vastly younger. Theory predicts that the stars of these
smaller, less densely populated clusters ought to have long since
wandered off from their stellar moorings, eventually resulting in the
disintegration of the cluster. Since the universe obviously still
possesses many such stellar units, this would suggest a younger age.
have found additional indications of youth in what are believed to be
recently formed stars, the T-Tauri variables. T-Tauris may be so young
that they have not even entered into normal active existence as a star.
This would make some of them as young as a mere few thousand years old.
still another indication of a possibly young universe exists in the
many hot, fast-burning stars visible in the night sky. These "super
blues," as they are sometimes called, are consuming their hydrogen fuel
like nuclear spendthrifts. They would have long since expended their
supplies had they been formed thousands of millions of years ago.
attempting to reconcile some of these vast age differences,
cosmologists suggest that the universe might possibly have experienced
a progressive re-generation cycle where new stars were, and possibly
still are, being formed. This would seemingly account for the wide
diversity of apparent ages that are currently in evidence among various
members of the stellar population. But while this is a convenient way
to dispose of the problems in theory, observational evidence for such a
process has been disappointingly lacking so far.
It should be
fairly obvious that scientifically estimating the age of the universe
is currently a fairly speculative business. No one really knows yet how
old the universe is. And interestingly enough, these age estimates,
whether "young" or "old," in no way conflict with the biblical account
of creation. The 6000-year age for the earth often erroneously
associated with Genesis 1 has been arrived at because of a fundamental
misinterpretation of the biblical account. When properly understood,
the Bible leaves a great degree of latitude for both the age of the
earth and the universe.
Life in Outer Space?
into the starry blackness of night, ! men have long wondered if mankind
is alone in the universe. Astronomers believe the odds are that many
other planets like the earth exist in the remoteness of space revolving
around stars similar to our sun. With so many billions upon billions of
stars in the heavens, it seems only logical that life too could exist
beyond the earth — some of this life perhaps even superior to ours.
are the chances for life in outer space actually as plentiful as many
people assume? Or have we overlooked a few pertinent facts?
The Right Star
life on earth, as biologists well know, ultimately derives its vital
forces from energy that once originated in the sun. Therefore, one
fundamental prerequisite to any potential life-supporting system is the
right type of star or sun. Not just any run-of-the-mill star can
qualify as a suitable candidate.
Astronomers have noted that
stars show a remarkable range of size and type. They have in fact
created a type-scale that categorizes them from huge, hot, fast-burning
blue stars down to the tiniest red dwarfs scarcely the size of our
earth. Our sun falls almost exactly in the middle of the scale — a
G-type yellow star.
When beginning to consider a star as a
potential sustainer of life, one immediately recognizes that only
middle-sized stars like our sun are capable of giving off the optimum
type of radiation. Stars toward the hot-blue end of the range
disqualify themselves because they emit a lethal proportion of
ultraviolet and higher-energy radiation. In a contrasting manner, stars
near the cool-red end of the scale give off too little visible
radiation to be suitable. This leaves, as one research showed, only
about 13 percent of all stars in an optimum category.1
13 percent, we would have to eliminate another three fourths, which
belong to multiple star groups.2 A planet orbiting a double or multiple
star group would most likely have an orbit far too eccentric and
irregular to maintain an ade-
quate temperature range to reasonably
support life. In addition, because multiple-star systems normally
consist of different types of stars (white and red, yellow and red,
etc.) any hapless planet would be bombarded with a wide variety of
radiation too irregular for the support of life forms as we know them.
the multiple-star groups removed from consideration, we're left with
only 3 percent of the stellar population as potential supporters of
Suitable Planet Needed
But we need more than just a suitable star. It also takes the right-sized planet at the right distance from that sun.
planets fail the test due to their inability to retain an atmosphere.
Larger, more massive planets fall into the other ditch because they
tend to retain the heavier, more lethal gasses such as methane and
In addition to all of this, we also need the following:
The planet must receive an even amount of radiation from its sun. That
means a near circular orbit. To keep surface temperature from varying
too far outside a life-supporting range, the planet must have a
rotational period about a maximum of every 100 hours. Also required is
an optimum distance from planet to sun, and the right tilt of the
planetary axis to ensure an even distribution of temperatures. An
extreme tilt of the axis, or an inadequate rotational speed, would
result in intolerable heating in some areas and bitter cold in others.
while probabilities for all of these factors combined are difficult to
calculate, it is interesting to realize that the real chances of life
in outer space could actually be far lower than usually suggested. This
becomes even clearer from the following evidence.
Our Unique Planet
it turns out, our earth, the only known life-supporting planet in the
universe, "defies the odds" in a number of other areas that are
sometimes overlooked in figuring the chances for the occurrence of life. One of our biggest "long shots" is water. For instance:
... In the universe as a whole, liquid water of any kind — sweet or salt — is an exotic rarity . . .
contrary to common belief, the liquid state is exceptional in nature;
most matter in the universe seems to consist either of flaming gases,
as in the stars, or frozen solids drifting in the abyss of space. Only
within a hairline band of the immense temperature spectrum of the
universe — ranging through millions of degrees — can water manifest
itself as a liquid.
and plenty of it is the very life blood of our existence here on earth.
And our earth is lavishly and possibly uniquely bathed in it.
only is the existence of H, O on the earth unique, but the fact that it
exists in a liquid state. How do you calculate the probability of the
"coincidence" of life as we know it and the liquid state existing in
the same temperature range? The answer is, you don't. As Lincoln
Barnett, the author of the article "The Miracle of the Sea," stated:
"It is surely no accident that life as we know it exists only within
this same tenuous temperature band." But that's not all.
The Correct Atmosphere
Our terrestrial atmosphere is quite different, from what one would normally expect in the universe.
signal fact is that rare gases [argon, xenon, etc.] are present here in
only small amounts, much smaller than those known elsewhere in the
universe. At the same time, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water
vapor are present in much greater abundance than elsewhere . . .
[analysis of meteorites] show that the rare gases are present here in
only a few millionths to a billionth of their cosmic abundance.
would account for something like a million-to-one probability factor
since that's how rare such gases are compared to the rest of the
The same uniqueness holds true for our solid
Ninety-nine percent of all the matter in the universe is of the two
lightest elements, hydrogen and helium. All other elements put together
account for only 1% of the total. Yet hydrogen makes up only about 0.9%
of the earth's composition, while helium appears only in miniscule
amounts within the earth's crust. On the other hand, oxygen, silicon,
aluminum, and iron which make up less than 1% of the universe account
for over 85% of the earth's composition. These proportions are wholly
non-typical and totally exceptional to our planet.
The list of
such unusual factors actually has almost no end. And even if we were to
assume that a proper planetary environment was achieved, this does not
automatically guarantee that organisms will be found living in that
environment. The odds for that are infinitesimally smaller yet.
some would say that any such estimates are overly simplified and
scientifically meaningless, remember that it is on the same basis that
scientists confidently tell the public that life in space is
scientifically probable. So at least, these factors do serve to
illustrate the point that very precise and exacting conditions are
required before even the simplest living organism would be able to
survive. And knowing what we do about our planet, with its optimum
conditions for supporting life, its ideal size, tilt, and rotation
rate, its unique composition of elements with its superabundance of
water, all powered and energized by a stable, middle-range star that
emits its energy domi-nantly in the visual range — does it follow,
then, that life on earth was formed by a cosmic accident? Not without a
lot of wishful thinking.
'Isaac Asimov and Stephen H. Dole, Planets for Man (New York, 1 964), p. 147
Bergamini and the Editors of Life, The Universe (New York, 1 962), pp.
11 2, 125. V. A Firsoff, Life Beyond the Earth (London, 1963), pp. 256,
astronomers may give lower figures on the percentages of stars that are
multiples, the overall proportion of stars that are suitable for a
life-supporting system is still listed in the vicinity of one to five
"Lincoln Barnett, "The Miracle of the Sea," Life (February 9, 1953), p. 58.
'Helmut E. Landsberg, "The Origin of the Atmosphere," Scientific American (August 1953), p. 82.
Why Were You Born ?
man is at all sensitive to the realism of the universe around him, he
cannot ignore the fact that human beings could not be the result of
freak chance spawned from mindless matter, but the unique creation of a
greater intelligence than his own.
The only logical answer that
really satisfies all the demands of what man encounters is that man was
designed, his environment was planned, and therefore there is a
definite reason for man s existence
What is man? Why is man?
What is this vast universe all about? The answers are clearly revealed
by the One who made man They are revealed in the Instruction Book that
goes along with the product.
Are you willing to at least take a look?
is a book that asks the big questions: What is man anyway? What is his
purpose and ultimate goal? Why is he here? Where did he come from? This
book — the Bible — asks: What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or
the son of man, that thou visitest him?" (Heb. 2 6 )
The God who
speaks in this book doesn t leave man without an answer He reveals: I
have made man a little lower than the angels, but I have given him a
measure of glory and honor. I have made him to have dominion over the
works I have made (verse 7).
This passage of scripture continues: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his [man's] feet For in that
He [God] put all in subjection under him [man], He left nothing that is not put under him" (verse 8)
is therefore right for man to look out into the vastness of the
creation with its endless scope and contemplate dominion over it God
intends it that way
But, it ought to be clear by virtue of the
limitations of his physical makeup and the vastness and fathomless
distances of space that he is simply not equipped in his present form
to have dominion over all that he sees "out there.
Again, God does not leave man without an answer Continue with verse 8: "But now we see not yet all things put under him [man]. "
man s present capacities and conditions are not adequate for a job that
big. Man has done too wretched a job on his own planet to be allowed,
now, to spread his unsolved problems, lusts and vices around the
Parallel with his premature efforts to move out into
the universe, the degeneracies and problems on earth have proliferated
It is now possible by several different means to annihilate all human
life from the face of planet earth. God is not going to permit this
kind of leadership and rulership to permeate His creation.
God must intervene in world affairs and enforce peace and order here on
earth. Then men will learn the kind of life God wants spread throughout
Mankind will undergo a change once these lessons
are learned. God will impart to men sonship in the Family of God (I
Men, transformed, will then be ready for the
purpose for which God originally created them — to have dominion over
the works of His — God's — hand
If you would like to understand
more of the magnificent plan of the great God whose purpose is being
worked out here on this good earth, write for your free copy of our
booklet titled Why Were You Born?
Alfven. Hannes Anti-Matter and Cosmology Scientific American. April 1967. pp 106-1 14
Alfven Hannes Worlds-Antiworlds San Francisco W H Freeman and Co.. 1966
Lawrence H and McLaughlin. Dean B ed Stars and Stellar Systems Stellar
Structure. Vol VIII Chicago The University of Chicago Press 1965
W David. Hansen. Carl J Truran, J W and Cameron. A G W ed
Nucleosynthesis New York Gordon and Breach Science Publishers 1 968
Asimov, Isaac A Sizable Universe Science Digest. November 1 969. pp 88-89
Asimov. Isaac The Universe New York Walker and Company. 1966
Asimov Isaai. and Dole. Stephen H Planets for Man. New York Random House, 1964
Barnett. Lincoln. The Earth is Born Life. December 8 1952. pp 86 103
Barnett. Lincoln The Miracle of the Sea Life, February 9. 1953. pp 58-82
Barnett. Lincoln The Universe and Dr. Einstein New York William Morrow and Co . 1948
Bello. Francis and Schmidt Maarten The Evolution of Quasars Scientific American. May 1971 pp 55-69
Bergamini. David and the Editors of Life The Universe. New York Time Incorporated, 1962
Bonnor William The Mystery of the Expanding Universe New York Macmillan Co . 1964
Calder. Nigel Violent Universe. New York The Viking Press. Inc.. 1 969
Cameron. A. G W arid Maran, Stephen P ' Relativistic Astrophysics Science, September 29. 1967. pp 1517-1524
Clayton, Donald D The Origin of the Elements Physics Today. May 1969 pp 28-36
Coleman. James A Modern Theories of the Universe New York The New American Library. Inc . Signet Science Library, 1 963
Diodorus. Siculus Book I Translated by C H Oldfather London William Hememann, The Loeb Classical Library 1968
Dole, Stephen H Habitable Planets for Man 2nd ed New York American Elsevier Publishing Company. Inc . 1970
Firsoff V A Life Beyond the Earth. London Hutchison Scientific and Technical 1 963
Fowler. William A "The Origin of the Elements ' Scientific American. September 1956, pp 82-91
Gamow George The Creation of the Urn verse, rev ed New York The Viking Press
Gamow George The Birth and Death of the Sun New York: The New American Library of World Literature. Inc.. Mentor Books, 1952
Gorenstein Paul and Tucker, Wallace Supernova Remnants." Scientific American, July 1971, pp 74-85
Hewish. Antony Pulsars Scientific American. October 1968 pp 25-35
Hoyle Fred Astronomy Garden City. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc.. 1962
Hoyle. Fred Frontiers of Astronomy New York Harper Brothers. 1 955
Jastrow. Robert. Red Giants and White Dwarfs New York. Harper and Row. 1967
Jeans. Sir James The Universe Around Us. 4th rev ed New York Cambridge University Press. 1960
Kahn, Fritz Design of the Universe New York Crown Publishers. Inc.. 1954
Landsberg Helmut E The Origin of the Atmosphere Scientific American. August 1953 pp 82-86
Leonard Jonathan Norton and Sagan Carl Planets New York Time Inc 1969
Lovell. Sir Bernard. Our Present Knowledge of the Universe Cambridge Harvard University Press, 1 967
McVittie. G. C Fact and Theory in Cosmology Edited by Colin A Ronan London Eyre and Spottiswoode 1961
McWhirter Norris. and McWhirter Ross Guinness Book of World Records New York Sterling Publishing Company. Inc.. 1969
Menzel. Donald H Astronomy New York Random House, 1970
Millman. Peter This Universe of Space Cambridge Schenkman Publishing Co Inc,
Ostriker. Jeremiah. The Nature of Pulsars Scientific American. January 1971 pp 48-60
Eric A and Shneour. Elie A., compilers Extraterrestial Life An
Anthology and Bibliography Washington National Academy of
Sciences-National Research Council. 1966
Penrose. Roger Black Holes. Scientific American, May 1972. pp 38-46
Plato Dialogues Laws. Vol. II. Translated by R C Bury London William Hememann, The LoeD Classical Library. 1926
Ruderman. Malvin A Solid Stars Scientific American. February 1971, pp 24-31
Ruffini, Remo. and Wheeler. John A Introducing the Black Hole." Physics Today. January 1971.pp 30-39
Sagan Carl and Shklovskii, I S Intelligent Life in the Universe. San Francisco Holden Day Inc 1966
Schatzman, E L The Structure of the Universe New York McGraw Hill 1968
Scientific American, Inc The New Astronomy New York Simon and Schuster, 1955
Shapley. Harlow The View from a Distant Star New York Basic Books. 1963
Shapley. Harlow Beyond the Observatory New York Charles Scribner's Sons. 1967
Stokley, James Atoms to Galaxies New York Ronald Press 1 961
Tax. Sol, ed The Evolution of Life Evolution After Darwin, Vol I Chicago University of Chicago Press. 1960
Tilson. Seymour Pulsars May Be Neutron Stars IEEE Spectrum. February 1970. pp 42-55.
Unsold Albrech 0. J Stellar Abundance and the Origin of the Elements " Science. March 7, 1969. pp 1015-1025
de Vaucouleurs. Gerard "The Supergalaxy Scientific American. July 1954. pp 30-35
de Vaucouleurs. Gerard and Rudaux. Lucien Larousse Encyclopedia of Astronomy New York Promelheus Press. 1959
Wooldridge Dean E. The Machinery of Life New York McGraw-Hill Book Co . 1966
Wunder Charles C Life Into Space Philadelphia F A. Davis Co., 1966