Marks of Divine Wisdom BSD 
 
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» Horrendous Complexity
» The Humble Eyelid
» the Chessmaster
» the Origin of Life
» Search for Alien Life
» Elephant in the Room
» Greetings from The Cosmos
» The Atom
» Center of the Universe
» the Light is Good
» the Mask of Nature
» Divine wisdom vs Human Wisdom
» the Nature of Reality
» Mysterious World of PLants
» Almost a Miracle
» The Bite of Rationalism
» The March of Science
» Afterword
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Sfarim
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** Greetings from The Cosmos **
Yet another area where the enormous hand of design appears to be waving to us and saying "hi" is in the very fabric of the cosmos.

Modern discoveries have found that all the Physics, the laws and the values of physical constants, everything seems to fit together just right to produce life and allow us to live. For example, if one of these constants is changed merely by one part in 10^120 (120 decimal places) in either direction, the universe would have collapsed on itself or flew apart so fast that no matter coalesced into stars and planet. If another no elements heavier than helium can form. No carbon, no life. Not even any chemistry. If another were slightly out of range stars could not burn or essential elements to life could not be formed in stars. You have to do a bit of research to appreciate the scale of all this but it's huge.

Most scientists reject the idea of a "lucky coincidence" with many speculating instead that there are multiple universes out there. Where these multiple universes exist or how a multi-universe "generator" came into existence, so finely tuned as to produce an array of universes with different characteristics is of course a total mystery. Here is a nice video which summarizes the situation.

Cosmologist Paul Davies said: "These rules look as if they are the product of intelligent design. I do not see how that can be denied." Roger Penrose, considered by many to be one of the greatest scientific mind today, calculated the odds that chance allowed the initial state of the universe and its entropy to be exactly 'right' to allow it to still exist now. His answer was 1 chance in 10^(10^123). i.e. not one followed by 123 zeros, but rather one followed by 10^123 zeros. This number is so ridiculously long that even if one were to put a zero on every atom in the observable universe, it would not be enough to write it out. Yet it is curiously simple and elegant.

Some reactions by scientists:
"A scientific study of the universe has suggested a conclusion which may be summed up . . In the statement that the universe appears to have been designed by a pure mathematician." - Sir James Jeans, The Mysterious Universe p.140

"Curious as that seems, it is a possibility worth weighing-against the only alternative I can imagine: Eddington's suggestion that G-d is a mathematical physicist." George Wald, Fitness in the Universe Origins of Life, Vol. 5, p. 26.

"The symmetries and delicate balances we observe require an extraordinary coherence of conditions and cooperation of laws and effects, suggesting that in some sense they have been purposefully designed" (George Ellis)
In truth it is not only the laws and constants of physics. There is a long and impressive ever growing list of conditions for life in the full spectrum of cosmology, physics, biology, chemistry, geology, etc. that we are discovering.

Scientists originally thought that it doesn't really matter what the physics, biology, chemistry, etc. was. They could take a wide range of properties and values, and things still would be capable of "evolving" complex life forms of some sort.

Instead though, scientists have been surprised to discover that the various rules and quantities must all fall into an extraordinarily narrow range of life-permitting values in order to sustain complex life forms of any sort whatsoever anywhere in the universe. This is what is meant by the "fine tuning" of the universe.

Even more impressive is that all the physics, chemistry, geology etc. appear to be uniquely fit for developing life as it exists on earth. For example, carbon is uniquely fit for complex molecules as needed for cells. Oxygen is uniquely fit for the combustion of hydrocarbons for chemical energy as needed for large beings like us. It also filters harmful radiation from space. Water with its long list of special properties is uniquely fit for life. If the earth were bigger the atmosphere would be toxic, if smaller it would have disappeared (at liquid water temperatures).

We also find signs of absolute brilliance and perfection. For instance water is simultaneously ideally fit for the molecular scale reactions in cells, as well as the large scale needs of bodies, and further to the large scale needs of the atmosphere and eco-system. And the architecture of atoms which forms water's properties is likewise ideally fit for the various other necessities all the way up to the unfolding of the Big Bang. Likewise for oxygen and many others. There are countless circles within circles here.

Another example, the tectonic plate system pushes the earth's crust into hot magma thereby recycling minerals essential to life which were deposited on the bottom of the ocean floor (through rain and rivers). It then spews them back up to land through volcanos. Without this the abundance of life would be severely compromised[1]. Many, many more examples. The more our understanding grows the more it is all pointing that the only possible intelligent being the universe is fit for is none other than a human like creature on a planet like Earth! (see the book "Nature's Destiny" by M. Denton for more details). Here is an interesting interview by him where he discusses a few.

Consider a fish in an aquarium. He was born there. Looking around he notices a glass wall, heaters maintaining a constant water temperature. He notices food being put in daily and air bubbles giving him oxygen and all sorts of other factors promoting his welfare. Indeed the more, he studies the aquarium the more he sees just how finely tuned everything is for his own welfare. This is what is happening to the scientific community.

The situation is reaching crisis proportions as hinted by this 2014 article from "phys.org" a physics web site
Numerous features of our universe seem fantastically fine-tuned for the existence of intelligent life. While some physicists still hold out for a "natural" explanation, many others are now coming to grips with the notion that our universe is profoundly unnatural, with no good explanation other than the Anthropic Principle - that the universe is in this exceedingly improbable state, because if it weren't, we wouldn't be here to discuss the fact...
We physicists need to confront the crisis facing us. A scientific theory [the multiverse/ Anthropic Principle/ string theory paradigm] that makes no predictions and therefore is not subject to experiment can never fail, but such a theory can never succeed either, as long as science stands for knowledge gained from rational argument borne out by evidence...

With this backdrop, a growing number of scientists are calling for head-to-head interactions with philosophers...


the Uncertainty Principle
Let us examine one example of the catastrophic consequences that would occur if one quantum mechanical rule were not in proper place - the uncertainty principle. This strange law is a difficult one to grasp in quantum physics. To appreciate its necessity requires some background. This will also give us a tour into some of the fundamental forces in physics. Here is an excerpt of a brilliant introduction to Electrical Forces by Dr. Richard Feynman, one of the greatest physicists of all time (from The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Volume II, Section 1-1 Electrical Forces used with permission)
Consider a force like gravitation which varies predominantly inversely as the square of the distance, but which is about a billion-billion-billion-billion times stronger. And with another difference. There are two kinds of "matter", which we can call positive and negative. Like kinds repel and unlike kinds attract-unlike gravity where there is only attraction. What would happen?

A bunch of positives would repel with an enormous force and spread out in all directions. A bunch of negatives would do the same. But an evenly mixed bunch of positives and negatives would do something completely different. The opposite pieces would be pulled together by the enormous attractions. The net result would be that the terrific forces would balance themselves out almost perfectly, by forming tight, fine mixtures of the positive and the negative, and between two separate bunches of such mixtures there would be practically no attraction or repulsion at all.

There is such a force: the electrical force. And all matter is a mixture of positive protons and negative electrons which are attracting and repelling with this great force. So perfect is the balance, however, that when you stand near someone else you don't feel any force at all. If there were even a little bit of unbalance you would know it. If you were standing at arm's length from someone and each of you had one percent more electrons than protons, the repelling force would be incredible. How great? Enough to lift the Empire State Building? No! To lift Mount Everest? No! The repulsion would be enough to lift a "weight" equal to that of the entire earth!

With such enormous forces so perfectly balanced in this intimate mixture, it is not hard to understand that matter, trying to keep its positive and negative charges in the finest balance, can have a great stiffness and strength. The Empire State Building, for example, swings less than one inch in the wind because the electrical forces hold every electron and proton more or less in its proper place. On the other hand, if we look at matter on a scale small enough that we see only a few atoms, any small piece will not, usually, have an equal number of positive and negative charges, and so there will be strong residual electrical forces. Even when there are equal numbers of both charges in two neighboring small pieces, there may still be large net electrical forces because the forces between individual charges vary inversely as the square of the distance. A net force can arise if a negative charge of one piece is closer to the positive than to the negative charges of the other piece. The attractive forces can then be larger than the repulsive ones and there can be a net attraction between two small pieces with no excess charges. The force that holds the atoms together, and the chemical forces that hold molecules together, are really electrical forces acting in regions where the balance of charge is not perfect, or where the distances are very small.

You know, of course, that atoms are made with positive protons in the nucleus and with electrons outside. You may ask: "If this electrical force is so terrific, why don't the protons and electrons just collapse on top of each other?"... The answer has to do with the quantum effects. If we try to confine our electrons in a region that is very close to the protons, then according to the Uncertainty Principle they must have some mean square momentum which is larger the more we try to confine them. It is this motion, required by the laws of quantum mechanics, that keeps the electrical attraction from bringing the charges any closer together... (i.e. due to the Uncertainty Principle, electrons are not small objects orbiting the nucleus but rather a sort of wave-particle cloud. It isn't anywhere in particular nor is it at any particular velocity. Though strange, there are very definite mathematical descriptions to go along with these words.)

There is another question: "What holds the nucleus together"? In a nucleus there are several protons, all of which are positive. Why don't they push themselves apart? It turns out that in nuclei there are, in addition to electrical forces, nonelectrical forces, called nuclear forces, which are greater than the electrical forces and which are able to hold the protons together in spite of the electrical repulsion. The nuclear forces, however, have a short range-their force falls off much more rapidly than 1/r^2. And this has an important consequence. If a nucleus has too many protons in it, it gets too big, and it will not stay together. An example is uranium, with 92 protons. The nuclear forces act mainly between each proton (or neutron) and its nearest neighbor, while the electrical forces act over larger distances, giving a repulsion between each proton and all of the others in the nucleus. The more protons in a nucleus, the stronger is the electrical repulsion, until, as in the case of uranium, the balance is so delicate that the nucleus is almost ready to fly apart from the repulsive electrical force. If such a nucleus is just "tapped" lightly (as can be done by sending in a slow neutron), it breaks into two pieces, each with positive charge, and these pieces fly apart by electrical repulsion. The energy which is liberated is the energy of the atomic bomb. This energy is usually called "nuclear" energy, but it is really "electrical" energy released when electrical forces have overcome the attractive nuclear forces.
Hence, without the uncertainty principle, electrons would collapse into protons thus destroying the world. As a physics student, I always had great difficulty understanding what in the world this law of physics was and why is it here. But with the right perspective, one can see that it is necessary for the plan and purpose in the universe.

Anomalous Expansion of Water
Water alone is a mini-universe of amazing properties. Let us examine a bit (based on "Eye of the Needle", Coopersmith). If you ask any physicist, why is it that ice floats? He will tell you it's because the water molecules become denser as they get colder, until they reach 4 degrees above freezing, whereupon the molecules suddenly start to expand and get less dense due to the hydrogen bonds adjusting to hold the negatively charged oxygen atoms apart, creating a crystal lattice.

But why does the physics work that way? Why does water suddenly become lighter when it was previously getting heavier? And your friendly physicist has an explanation for that too. He will say, "Because it's an exception".

We have a different answer. G-d created the laws of physics. Now, G-d may not care if ice floats to the top of your soda cup, but He does care that ice floats to the top of a lake. What would happen if ice sank to the bottom? All plant and animal life in lakes and rivers would die, and when the ice defrosted in spring, the waters would be putrid and vile.

In the oceans, ice would form at the bottom (where it is colder, and summer warmth is harder to get). Such ice would not melt for millennia, creating perma-ice (similar to permafrost). Life would be possible only in shallow layer of water between perma-ice and surface. This layer would be very cold, cooled from the bottom by perma-ice. Needless to say, the consequences of this and more on earth life would be devastating. So G-d says, "I did not make a world to be uninhabited. In the case of ice, I'll just overturn the natural law and make an exception."

    Some Other Unusual Properties of Water
  • Universal Solvent - another unusual property of water is its ability to dissolve a large variety of chemical substances. It dissolves salts and other ionic compounds, as well as polar covalent compounds such as alcohols and organic acids without destroying them. Water is sometimes called the universal solvent because it can dissolve so many things. This is very important to animals for the dissolving of substances in the water of the plasma in blood, so as to get transported around the bodies and used by cells.
  • Water has a very high surface tension. Besides mercury, water has the highest surface tension for all liquids. This property is essential for the plant transport system (in order for dissolved nutrients and mineral ions to travel up the transport vessels in plants without a mechanical pump)
  • The water molecule is amphoteric. It dissociates almost completely into H+ ions and OH- ions becoming both a proton donor and acceptor. This ability of water to act both as a proton donor and acceptor makes it an ideal medium for the biochemical reactions in cells.
  • Low Viscosity - water is one of the lowest viscosity liquids. This means it can flow through tiny tubes and not get stuck. This is very important for blood flow in tiny capillaries to transport products to and from cells.
  • High specific heat - water has the highest specific heat of all liquids except ammonia. This means it takes alot of energy to change its temperature. This property is very important to warm blooded animals so as to keep their body temperature stable.
  • High Heat of Vaporization - water has the highest heat of vaporization per gram of any molecular liquid. In order for water to evaporate hydrogen bonds need to be broken. This means a substantial amount of energy is used and this produces a cooling in the environment where the evaporation is taking place. This is especially significant for humans whose skin is exposed and allows them to cool down so as to maintain homeostasis of body temperature.

see also:
the Fine Tuning of the Universe
Thermodynamic anomalies of water

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Footnotes