Methane is an Odourless Gas

Cassini's view of Titan on November 29 (click to enlarge)It’s that time of year again: time for Brian Thomas to recycle the news stories of the year in a rapid-fire format. First up are the astronomy topics.

If the moon was formed over four billion years ago by some colossal impact as secularists assert, then it should be dry as a bone. The violent impact would have melted all the minerals and thus would have ejected any water from its magma. But this year researchers reported discovering water within the minerals of some moon rocks. Not only does this refute the molten moon narrative, but it supports Scripture’s recent and watery lunar origins.

The Moon is mildly damp: see this post for more details. To quote the apostle Peter:

For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were transformed from water, but a little bit was left behind because He wasn’t paying much attention. And when He saw this He left it there, because it would screw with people when they saw it.

Continue reading

Turbulent Moons

The many layers of Titan's atmosphereThere were quite a number of articles in the 31 January edition of the journal Nature that would be potential topics for a post from the ICR. These included the discovery of the bizarre underlying genetic mechanism (pdf) behind the two different social structures of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta, which has implications for the evolution of sex chromosomes; a review of a biography of Louis Agassiz, “a great science populariser who resisted Darwinism”; an obituary for Carl Woese (though we’ve already looked at that topic); and some rigid biomemetic polymers, a field which creationists adore. But the article that Jake Hebert – yes, him again – has written about is a feature called Caught in the act. “We may be seeing some of the Solar System’s most striking objects during rare moments of glory.” His own article is called Youthful Solar System Bodies Puzzle Evolutionary Scientists.

A feature story in a recent issue of the journal Nature described four solar system bodies that are puzzling to evolutionary scientists. Specifically, the article discussed the rings of Saturn, two of Saturn’s moons (Enceladus and Titan), and Jupiter’s moon Io. These four bodies all exhibit properties that cannot persist for billions of years.

The Nature article is free to view (though Hebert doesn’t link to it), and is a good read. You’ll certainly find much more detailed and nuanced information there than what Hebert provides. Continue reading

2012 in Review: Astronomy

An artist's impression of a planet orbiting a red dwarfAfter a hiatus to allow the showcasing of the January Acts & Facts (which I’m sure you’re all royally tired of by now), the ICR has returned to their 2012 retrospective series. The new article is called The Best Creation Science Updates of 2012: Space Sciences. I predict that the third and final of these articles will be posted on Friday, will be about the “life sciences,” and will include reference to the ENCODE project.

But back to here and now: Brian opens contending that,

This year brought its share of discoveries that confirm biblical creation’s contention that God made the heavens supernaturally and recently.

But before he gets to explaining these discoveries he cannot resist taking a swipe at Lawrence Krauss. Continue reading

Perfectly Suited for Life (as we know it)

The universe, what is known of it, is vast beyond measure.  It is estimated that there are about 100 billion galaxies in the universe with each containing about 100 billion stars each.  Among all of those stars, one medium sized star hosts eight or nine planets, one of which we call home – Earth – a tiny speck of dust in a measureless universe.

That’s the opening of the latest post to appear on the ICR’s Your Origins Matter website, What’s So Special About our Blue Planet? The planet Earth being perfect for life – and that there is none like it in the universe – is a common creationist argument. You’d think, then, that the author of this YOM article could have done some research and not just written down what sounded about right. “Eight or nine planets” indeed – we can’t have those astronomers telling us what is and isn’t a planet now can we? Continue reading

A Titanic Oasis

The equatorial lakes are not nearly as large as these near the north pole

Click through for a bigger versionMore than a year ago a graphic began circulating that purported to show that the Earth couldn’t be billions of years old based on the claim that we would have gone through all the water in that time. Based on the shear absurdity of such an argument alone this must surely be parody – though Poe’s law confuses this somewhat – but I’m not as sure about that now as I was just a short while ago.

You see, Thomas’ latest – Young-Looking Methane Lakes on Saturn’s Moon – uses a rather similar argument to the one in that picture. He doesn’t do any calculations, avoiding the potential for embarrassing mistakes like the one he made for Enceladus. Instead, he seizes on a couple of comments made in a Nature News article, and dismisses out of hand their explanation. Continue reading

With the Return of the Solar Flares Comes Talk of the Goldilocks Zone – Quick DpSU June 16

CME from June 7

I haven’t seen a Type Io DpSU for a (short) while, but this one just rehashes things I’ve talked about before, with a few additions.

So, the solar cycle is coming back around to its peak. There has been a lot of news about that lately, with Mr Thomas taking as his sources these two articles. Interestingly, since then there has been news that the cycle might calm down for quite a while, but that’s not particularly relevant.

Mr Thomas instead uses this study as an excuse to talk about the Goldilocks Zone, and other related arguments for Fine Tuning, beginning with the Magnetosphere and continuing from there:

[T]he magnetic field protects life on earth from this serious danger. If the field were not there, living creatures could not survive.

The problem with this, along with most other such arguments, is that it is only really true of life as we know it. There are ‘living creatures’ around volcanic vents, deep under the oceans, that couldn’t care less about the magnetic field of the earth. And there could easily be life on other planets that do not have such a field either.

Mr Thomas then goes on to list other fine tuning arguments:

Earth, for example, is situated within the Goldilocks zone, a “just right” distance from the sun for water to remain in liquid form on the planet’s surface. No other planet yet discovered has liquid water like that found on earth.

Again, this is only a prerequisite for our own sort of life. Take, for example, Titan. Titan has liquid (and solid and gas) methane on its surface. Such a situation could well be suitable for other sorts of life based on a similar(ish) chemistry to our own. The fact that this star-system contains both a water-planet and a methane-planet (well, moon), for no apparent reason, suggests that the chances of planets that could at least theoretically support life could well be higher than Mr Thomas is implying. The “Goldilocks zone” idea is unnecessary restrictive.

Also, the moon is strikingly well-balanced for life, being just the right distance from earth, just the right size, mass, and in just the right orbital path to make life on earth possible, in part by stirring up the ocean’s tides. In fact, its many precise specifications led two atheist scientists to title their 2005 book on the subject Who Built the Moon? They quoted famous author Isaac Asimov’s statement that the moon’s arrangement is “the most unlikely coincidence imaginable.”

One of the “atheist scientists”, Christopher Knight, is a proponent of, among other things, 366-degree Geometry. Remember, the correlation between ‘atheist’ and ‘sane’ is not perfect…

The moon has been moving out from the earth for some time, changing it’s orbit and distance. This is not a problem, as far as I am aware. Secondly, I direct you here.

Mr Thomas also mentions a few other things in an etcetera fashion, and I won’t go into them here. However, I’ve bookmarked one of his ‘references’ for later deconstruction…

The Earth Was Uniquely Created

I reckon I can swallow this category whole. It’s not really much, and I’ve covered much of it before.

Article I: Earth Was Created For Life

“It has been suggested that this page be merged into Earth Was Created in a Wonderful Location” (actually, if this was on wikipedia it wouldn’t last long for other reasons, but that’s not the point)

Basically, we go over he whole goldilocks zone thing that would be better served under the “Wonderful Location” title. But anyway…

So apparently, life couldn’t arise anywhere else in the solar system, but there’s life here, therefore the universe was created. Interestingly, they only talk about the other planets – no mention of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn.

I would make the claim that we can’t say at this point that there really is no other life in the solar system. On earth, life survives on volcanic vents under the sea – this could easily be the case on other planets and moons as well (though not necessarily under a sea). We can’t rule out non-earth life at present, we just haven’t found any yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if, should life be confirmed on Titan or anywhere else, the ICR will immediately pronounce it to be evidence of the power of God or some such – after all, if God is omnipotent, why can’t he create life anywhere? They’ll also declare it to be proof that scientists are wrong if if is found outside of the goldilocks zone – they have no trouble talking about other outmoded ideas as if they are the last word in science…

Article II: Earth Was Created in a Wonderful Location

This article is broken up into two parts. It should be three and include the above article as well, but never mind…

The first part is about how, if we were located anywhere in the galaxy other than where we are (two thirds out and on a minor spur of a spiral arm) there couldn’t be life in the solar system. As I alluded to before, this doesn’t really help the creationist case. If God is omnipotent and created the world only a few thousand years ago, he wouldn’t have had to be concerned about this sort of thing. Alternatively, had life arisen via natural means some time ago, it could only have survived in such a place as this (if the premise is correct, which it may well be). Therefore, only in such a Wonderful Location could we be here talking about it.

The second part, entitled “Our Planet is Perfectly Located Within Our Solar System”, is not actually about the “goldilocks zone”. Instead, it’s more about how the set-up of the solar system (such as Jupiter and the Moon) prevents asteroid impacts on the earth. This is… odd. This is coming from people who believe the earth is only a few thousand years old, while the craters would have taken a few billion to build up via such a method that we could be conceivably “protected” from them. This section also suffers from the criticism I gave for the above – if God is omnipotent, why did he rope in a moon and a few planets to his work for him? Also, what makes our moon “unusually large”? If the moon is, what is Charon?

Article III: Earth’s Core Was Created to Protect Life

This article seems to be a pile of half-baked ideas that haven’t really been expanded into a full-sized article:

Our planet was created for life.

A smaller planet, like Mars, would be unable to hold our atmosphere, which protects us from meteoroids and keeps the temperature within the range needed for life.

A larger planet, like Neptune, would trap too much atmosphere. The pressure and temperature would greatly increase.  A  stronger gravity from the increased size would also trap harmful gases in the atmosphere.

Earth has a strong magnetic field. This protects us from harmful radiation from the sun.

Venus has a much thicker atmosphere than us, but is around the same size as we are. Titan is much smaller than us, with a much larger atmosphere than we do. And define “harmful gases”. All of these, including the magnetic field reference, have the same problems as the previous article.

Article IV: Earth’s Water Cycle Protects and Provides

A nice piece of water chauvinism here.

“Water is the most abundant chemical compound on earth” – what about Silica and Alumina? They’re pretty common.

This article is basically waxing lyrical about how the water cycle is such a wonderful thing. It doesn’t really help the “Uniquely Created” story though – Titan has a similar system with methane, while Mars probably used to have a water cycle as well. The article also implies that you need water for life. You need it on the earth, yes, but not necessarily anywhere else. There’s plenty of water on Europa as well, as it happens.

Annd that’s it for that category, and indeed all of the “physics” section, as the all the categories under “Branches of Physical Science” are empty (Even Radiometric Dating) excluding the “related articles”. I’ll go over them after I finish the “Evidence from Science” branch of the Topics tree.

Next up in the archives: Catastrophes.