By Design, Earth Is a Planet Fit for Fire

ambient conditions, atmosphere, atmospheric pressure, civilization, combustion, Douglas Drysdale, earth, Edward McHale, fire, fire spread, fire sustainability, Fire-Maker series, gases, gravity, Intelligent Design, mankind, metabolism, metals, Mount Everest, NASA, nitrogen, oxidative metabolism, oxygen, Physics, Earth & Space, respiration, Stone Age, Technology
As we have seen so far in this series, fire was an absolutely crucial component in humanity’s rise to civilization and technology. Source
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Guillermo Gonzalez Extends “Privileged Planet” Arguments to Space Travel

BIO-Complexity, Circumstellar Habitable Zone, earth, Exoplanets, fuel, gravity, Guillermo Gonzalez, Industrial Revolution, Jay Richards, NASA, Peggy Whitson, Physics, Earth & Space, rockets, solar system, space travel, super-earths, The Privileged Planet
As outlined in the book The Privileged Planet, by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards, the Earth is not only fine-tuned for life, but is also well-designed to allow us to make scientific discoveries. A new BIO-Complexity paper by Guillermo Gonzalez, “The Solar System: Favored for Space Travel,” extends privileged planet arguments to our ability to travel in space. Gonzalez previously summarized some of his arguments here, but it’s worth outlining some of his arguments. Many of the exoplanets that are being discovered are giant “super-earths,” planets with a mass up to 10X Earth’s mass. These planets pose a problem for space travel. As the gravity of a planet increases, so does the amount of fuel that is needed for a rocket to escape the gravity of the planet and reach space. As Gonzalez puts it,…
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Are Cosmic and Planetary Fine-Tuning Constant?

A Fortunate Universe, aaas, catastrophes, Children of Light, cosmic fine-tuning, fusion, Geraint Lewis, Guillermo Gonzalez, habitability, heavy elements, Jay Richards, law of gravity, Luke A. Barnes, Michael Denton, Michael R. Wilczynska, natural constants, Paul Dirac, photosynthesis, physicists, Physics, Earth & Space, planetary fine-tuning, Science Advances, stars, The Privileged Planet, The Wonder of Water
Since Paul Dirac first wrote about the subject of cosmic coincidences in 1937, many physicists have marveled at the specific values of natural constants, such as G, the constant in the law of gravity (6.673×10-11 N m2 kg-2) — an extremely low number. This is an empirical value measured carefully in labs under controlled conditions; it is not derived from equations. One could imagine it taking a different value.  But it is balanced between two catastrophes. If stronger, stars would burn hotter, and photosynthesis would be impossible, and life, if it could exist at all under the crush of gravity, would have to take refuge underground. If gravity were weaker, opposite problems ensue: stars would be unable to start fusion and form heavy elements, and would slowly burn out by…
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An Astronomer Considers the Origin of Life, with Sobering Results

abiogenesis, astronomers, biologists, biology, calculation, Chemistry, Drake equation, Erlenmeyer flask, Evolution, Fischer Scientific, inflation, inflationary universe, metaphysics, meteorites, monomers, Nature (journal), nucleotides, origin of life, Physics, Earth & Space, reagents, RNA molecules, RNA world, silver atom, snowflakes, Tomonori Totani, tooth fairy, universe, University of Tokyo
Live Science reports: Is life a gamble? Scientist models universe to find out Scientists suspect that the complex life that slithers and crawls through every nook and cranny on Earth emerged from a random shuffling of non-living matter that ultimately spit out the building blocks of life. Even so, the details to support the idea are lacking. But researchers recently got creative in figuring out the probability of life actually emerging spontaneously from such inorganic matter — a process called abiogenesis. In the study, Tomonori Totani, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Tokyo, modeled the microscopic world of molecules across the epic scale of the entire universe to see if abiogenesis is a likely candidate for the origin of life. He was essentially looking at whether there were…
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Is Space Travel Our Destiny?

Abraham Loeb, atmosphere, BIO-Complexity, distance, Hubble Space Telescope, hydrogen, interstellar dust, interstellar ship, Mike Hippke, Milky Way, Neptune, oxidizers, oxygen, Physics, Earth & Space, Proxima Centauri, rockets, satellite TV, solar system, space travel, super-earths, The Privileged Planet, Tsiolkovsky equation, Uranus
A few days ago I published the paper “The Solar System: Favored for Space Travel” in the journal BIO-Complexity. I thought it would be helpful for me to give a short summary of the paper to Evolution News readers. I was motivated to do the study after two papers were published in 2018 on the difficulty of launching rockets from super-earths. Super-earths are the most common type of planet that are being discovered around exoplanets. They are somewhat loosely defined as being larger and more massive than Earth but smaller and less massive than Uranus or Neptune. From observations, super-earths seem to transition from rocky to gas-dominated composition above 1.5 times the size of Earth.  Two Studies Together, the two studies not only showed that it is more difficult to…
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Rare Earth at Twenty — And My Connection

American Scientist, astrobiology, astronomy, Charles Lineweaver, Christopher McKay, Discovery Institute, earth, extraterrestrial intelligence, extraterrestrial life, galactic habitable zone, Geoff Marcy, Hugh Ross, Icarus, Intelligent Design, interplanetary dust particles, James Kasting, Jay Richards, meteorites, Milky Way, Peter D. Ward, Physics Today, Physics, Earth & Space, Rare Earth, Science (journal), SETI, solar system, Steven J. Dick, The Privileged Planet, University of Washington, Woodruff Sullivan
This past January marked the 20th anniversary of the publication of the best-selling and influential book Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe, by Peter D. Ward and Donald E. Brownlee. As the subtitle suggests, the authors argue that planets like Earth that have complex life are rare, while simple life may be common. Some Background Brownlee and Ward were, and still are, professors at the University of Washington in Seattle. Brownlee is an astronomer. He specializes in meteorites and interplanetary dust particles. Ward is a paleontologist in the biology department. He specializes in major mass extinction events. He’s also a prolific author, having written 16 books.  Mostly positive reviews appeared in leading newspapers and science magazines, including Science, American Scientist, and Physics Today. Even scientists who…
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Another Cosmos Episode, Another Sermon from Pastor Tyson

Al Ghazali, bees, Charles Darwin, China, consciousness, cosmos, Cosmos: Possible Worlds, Darwinism, empirical science, extraterrestrial intelligence, FAST telescope, Fox Broadcasting Company, Francis of Assisi, Maimonides, National Geographic Channel, natural selection, naturalistic philosophy, Physics, Earth & Space, religion, Smithsonian Magazine, The Hidden Life of Trees, The Secret Life of Plants, vitalism
Several themes weave their way through the current season of Cosmos, “Possible Worlds.”  The careful viewer will detect at least one in each episode. They include the ideas that a modern intellectual awakening took place when science (defined as applied naturalistic philosophy) triumphed over religion and superstition; that human exceptionalism is an ancient prejudice we must abandon; and that you can find meaning in a universe without a god. Episode 7, which aired last night on Fox and National Geographic, presents the viewer with a heavy dose of the second idea. The episode begins with Neil deGrasse Tyson walking on the perimeter of the recently completed 500-meter single dish radio telescope, FAST, in China. The episode is about the first contact with another intelligence, which many hope will be made with…
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Listen: Kirk Durston on Fantasy Science and Scientism

Atheism, biophysics, Evidence, experimental science, fantasy science, historical sciences, ID The Future, inferential science, Kirk Durston, materialism, mathematics, multiverse, philosophy, Physics, Earth & Space, Podcast, proteins, testing
On a new episode of ID the Future, Kirk Durston, a biophysicist focused on identifying high-information-density parts of proteins, completes a three-part series on three categories of science: experimental, inferential, and fantasy science. Download the podcast or listen to it here. Fantasy science makes inferential leaps so huge that virtually none of it is testable, either by the standards of experimental science or by those of the historical sciences, which reason to the best explanation by process of elimination. One example of fantasy science, according to Durston, is the multiverse. As he argues, that is an imaginative story largely untethered from evidence and testing, but told using math instead of literary devices. Scientism, “atheism dressed up in a lab coat,” can lead to fantasy science of this kind because it commits…
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The Biggest Myth So Far in Cosmos 3.0 — Baruch Spinoza as Science Hero

Albert Einstein, aliens, ancient Greeks, Aristotle, Baruch Spinoza, Bible, Christiaan Huygens, Christianity, Cosmos 3.0, Evolution News, extraterrestrial life, Faith & Science, Galileo Galilei, geometry, Giordano Bruno, harmonic law, Herwart von Hohenburg, historical errors, Johannes Kepler, Judaism, Michael J. Crowe, Michael Maestlin, National Geographic Channel, nature, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Physics, Earth & Space, planetary motion, Plato, René Descartes, Saint Augustine, The Assayer, Two Books, Unbelievable?
The third season of Cosmos has released four episodes so far, with more to come this Monday, on Fox and the National Geographic channel. Evolution News has commented already, here, here, here, and here. After watching these episodes, I have concluded that the most consequential historical error to correct as yet concerns the treatment of Spinoza in episode one. The series designates Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) as the next greatest persecuted hero of science after Giordano Bruno (as depicted in Cosmos 2.0; see my video discussion, “Unbelievable Mythbusting: Giordano Bruno Was a Martyr, Yes, but Not for Science”). Although Bruno was burned to death in 1600 for his religious (not scientific) views, the attempted murder of Spinoza, if it occurred, was likely due to a disputed business transaction (not science or…
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