Archive for August 2nd, 2011

Why is the Universe So Fined Tuned for Life? God Some Believe. However, Super Smart Scientists Conclude that There are an Infinite Number of Invisible, Undetectable Universes Occupying the Same Space and that The Earth is Carried on the Back of a Giant Tortoise

Church of Darwin, s8int.com, Science, Unexplained Artifact | Posted by Chris Parker
Aug 02 2011

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Rom 1:18-20

Existence: Why is the Universe Just Right for us?
by Marcus Chown NewScientist, July 29, 2011

IT HAS been called the Goldilocks paradox. If the strong nuclear force which glues atomic nuclei together were only a few per cent stronger than it is, stars like the sun would exhaust their hydrogen fuel in less than a second. Our sun would have exploded long ago and there would be no life on Earth. If the weak nuclear force were a few per cent weaker, the heavy elements that make up most of our world wouldn’t be here, and neither would you.

If gravity were a little weaker than it is, it would never have been able to crush the core of the sun sufficiently to ignite the nuclear reactions that create sunlight; a little stronger and, again, the sun would have burned all of its fuel billions of years ago. Once again, we could never have arisen.

Such instances of the fine-tuning of the laws of physics seem to abound. Many of the essential parameters of nature – the strengths of fundamental forces and the masses of fundamental particles – seem fixed at values that are “just right” for life to emerge. A whisker either way and we would not be here. It is as if the universe was made for us.

What are we to make of this? One possibility is that the universe was fine-tuned by a supreme being – God. Although many people like this explanation, scientists see no evidence that a supernatural entity is orchestrating the cosmos. (What! See Prior Paragraphs in this article, genuises!…s8int.com)

The known laws of physics can explain the existence of the universe that we observe. To paraphrase astronomer Pierre-Simon Laplace when asked by Napoleon why his book MĂ©canique CĂ©leste did not mention the creator: we have no need of that hypothesis.

Another possibility is that it simply couldn’t be any other way. We find ourselves in a universe ruled by laws compatible with life because, well, how could we not?

This could seem to imply that our existence is an incredible slice of luck – of all the universes that could have existed, we got one capable of supporting intelligent life. But most physicists don’t see it that way.

The most likely explanation for fine-tuning is possibly even more mind-expanding: that our universe is merely one of a vast ensemble of universes, each with different laws of physics. We find ourselves in one with laws suitable for life because, again, how could it be any other way?

The multiverse idea is not without theoretical backing. String theory, our best attempt yet at a theory of everything, predicts at least 10500 universes, each with different laws of physics. To put that number into perspective, there are an estimated 1025 grains of sand in the Sahara desert.

Fine-tuned fallacy

Another possibility is that there is nothing to explain. Some argue that the whole idea of fine-tuning is wrong. One vocal critic is Victor Stenger of the University of Colorado in Boulder, author of The Fallacy of Fine-tuning. His exhibit A concerns one of the pre-eminent examples of fine-tuning, the unlikeliness of the existence of anything other than hydrogen, helium and lithium.

All the heavy elements in your body, including carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and iron, were forged inside distant stars. In 1952, cosmologist Fred Hoyle argued that the existence of these elements depends on a huge cosmic coincidence. One of the key steps to their formation is the “triple alpha” process in which three helium nuclei fuse together to form a carbon-12 nucleus. For this reaction to occur, Hoyle proposed that the energy of the carbon-12 nucleus must be precisely equal to the combined energy of three helium nuclei at the typical temperature inside a red giant star. And so it is.

However, Stenger points out that in 1989 a team at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa showed that, actually, the carbon-12 energy level could have been significantly different and still resulted in the heavy elements required for life.

There are other problems with the fine-tuning argument. One is the fact that examples of fine-tuning are found by taking a single parameter – a force of nature, say, or a subatomic particle mass – and varying it while keeping everything else constant. This seems very unrealistic. The theory of everything, which alas we do not yet possess, is likely to show intimate connections between physical parameters. The effect of varying one may very well be compensated for by variations in another.

Then there is the fact that we only have one example of life to go on, so how can we be so sure that different laws could not give rise to some other living system capable of pondering its own existence?

Article Remainder; Page 2

“Ancestor of all Birds Knocked from its Perch”; Paleontologists Eat Crow? Horsefeathers Fly

Church of Darwin, s8int.com, Science, Unexplained Artifact | Posted by Chris Parker
Aug 02 2011

Genesis 2:19
Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky.

The idea of feathered dinosaurs and the theropod origin of birds is being actively promulgated by a cadre of zealous scientists acting in concert with certain editors at Nature and National Geographic who themselves have become outspoken and highly biased proselytizers of the faith. Truth and careful scientific weighing of evidence have been among the first casualties in their program, which is now fast becoming one of the grander scientific hoaxes of our age—the paleontological equivalent of cold fusion. If Sloan’s article is not the crescendo of this fantasia, it is difficult to imagine to what heights it can next be taken”. .. Storrs L. Olson, Smithsonian, November 1999 Article

“The theory that dinosaurs gave rise to birds has been dealt a blow by palaeontologists who have examined critical evidence from a Chinese fossil. The discoverers of the turkey-sized dinosaur Sinosauropteryx say it would have had primitive feathers, supporting the bird-from-dinosaurs theory. But the latest research says these “proto feathers” are really frilly structures on the creature’s back.” Dinosaur “Feathers” Are No Such Thing-ABC NewsOnline, May 2007

Ancestor of all Birds Knocked from its Perch

By Laurent Banguet Yahoo News Jul 27, 2011

….The winged Archaeopteryx, long venerated as the forebear of birds, has been knocked off its hallowed perch on the tree of evolution, according to a study released Wednesday.

A new dinosaur species unearthed in northern China reveals that the iconic 150 million year old “original bird” is probably just another dino with feathers, of which there are many, the researchers said.

It is hard to imagine a harder fall from evolutionary grace.

Since its discovery 150 years ago in Bavaria, most scientists placed Archaeopteryx squarely at the root of the broad group of proto-birds, known as Avialae, from which our modern feathered friends have emerged.

The emblematic creature was also held up as a case study — THE case study during the late 19th century — of evolutionary transition, to wit, from dinosaur to bird.

Over the years, a few scientists have gingerly expressed doubts, pointing to supposedly defining bird-like characteristics — feathers, the wishbone, three-fingered hands — that were also showing up in non-avian dinosaurs.

But without hard proof that Archaeopteryx was not really where it belonged on the so-called phylogenetic tree, the presumed progenitor continued to reign over its feathered kingdom.

Enter Xing Xu, a professor at Linyi University in China’s Shandong Province and discoverer extraordinaire of dinosaur fossils.

In the new study, published in Nature, Xu and colleagues describe the attributes of a previously unknown dinosaur the fossil of which was found in Liaoning Province, in China’s northeast.

About the size of a chicken and probably weighing less than a kilo (about two pounds), Xiaotingia shared a host of key characteristics with Archaeopteryx but seemed, at the same time, to fall into another group of non-avian dinos called Deinonychosauria.

A standard computer analysis confirmed as much, but at the same time produced a stunning result: Archaeopteryx had been reclassified into the same group.

“In other words, Archaeopteryx was no longer a bird,” Lawrence Witmer, a professor at Ohio university’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, said in a commentary, also in Nature.

Xiaotingia, it turns out, was the smoking gun that sceptical scientists had been looking for.

Surprised by their findings, Xu and his team ran the analysis again, but this time without the newly discovered species. Archaeopteryx was restored — in error, they now knew — to its previous perch.

Xu has called for further confirmation, but suggests that his discovery will overturn long-held assumptions about the “avian ancestral condition.”

“Perhaps the time has come to finally accept that Archaeopteryx was just another small, feathered, bird-like theropod fluttering around in the Jurassic,” Witmer said.

One reason it has been so hard for biologists to embrace this idea may have more to do with history than science.

The first Archaeopteryx specimen was discovered, with uncanny timing, less than two years after the publication of Charles Darwin’s game-changing Origin of the Species.

With an evenly matched blend of avian and reptilian features, it became — in textbooks and public debate — “Exhibit A” in explaining the transformative power of natural selection and evolution.

“The familiar fossils have guided almost all scientific thought about the beginnings of birds,” Witman said, including himself among those led astray.

It’s reclassification, he added, is likely to “rock the palaeontological community for years to come.”

Who are the new candidates for king of the roost?

No single species is likely to ever gain the stature that Archaeopteryx once had, said Xu.

But among the new pretenders, three newly discovered creatures stand out: Epidexipteryx, Jeholornis, and Sapeornis.

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