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Thursday, September 08, 2011

Nature, EMP preparedness, Design and Worship

I recently met with a friend who shared with me an email list from the Australian Observatory site which tracks the emission of solar "flares." These are bursts of energy that escape the sun and have extremely high xray "flux" or rates of energy transfer in the form of x-rays. These are important in that they contain at times enough energy to mimic the effects of say, an EMP attack, effectively summoning William Forstchen's world of "One Second After."

It has been a long time since my days of research in molecular biophysics and even then I was not an astronomer type physics guy, so I had to google to understand what was being said.

Whenever I do this kind of stuff, I am humbled, both at ALL the crap I don't know, don't know anything about, and probably won't ever understand in this life. I look at this and am amazed at the brilliance of the early scientists who even devised metrics of measurement (Watt, Faraday, Joule) for these items. I feel little when I see the amazing complexity of the elements necessary to support life here on the planet and how the moving parts "fit together."

Just one very very small example here. Our sun is a star, and is classified by astronomers as a "G" star according to its size. At its core, it is a continuous series of constant thermonuclear explosions, emitting energy in amounts equal to multitudes of nuclear bombs or reactors. This energy is transmuted several times, from xrays to various other forms to (finally) light, which supports and sustains life here on earth. Other stars emit energy, but few have this "baffling" effect of such a large percentage of energy becoming light before it leaves the star. Further, even stars that are like ours are usually more variant. The sun alters on a historical basis by as much as 1% of the amount of light energy that comes to the earth. This (along with the earth's rotational "wobble" and certain astmospheric condiditons) is responsible for the history of "ice ages" and temperate ages, where massive changes in the relative heat of the earth occurred. The thing that struck me was a comment by the Australian Observatory as "most interesting" about the sun. It is remarkably stable as stars of this size go. Most have fluctuations of 4% or more in their energy emission rates, and some have much larger changes, on a much more consistent periodic basis. Were the sun to do so, almost all life forms we know on the planet would cease to exist.

Some will tell you that with the billions upon billions of stars, that the chances of finding one (maybe one of several, we don't know) so uniquely suited to life is just an interesting statistical anomaly. Just the luck of the draw. Maybe. Maybe as well, "life" would have evolved quite differently in a heat and energy source that had more "normal" +/- 4% fluctuations. I suppose it has to do with the suppositions you draw about life, design, and God.

Me? I cannot help but marvel at the infinite wisdom of God, and His power in stringing the universe together (quaintly described by the psalmist as "the work of your fingers".... fingers daintily placing this here and there, not a rolled up sleeve exercising applied strength with a grunt and shove). I see so many "just so" things in nature that I am flummoxed by those who tell me that belief in a sovereign God is an "effort." The universe reeks of design, care, wisdom and a master engineer. The cosmos is an appeal to worship and feel our smallness. Every once in a while I get it. Mostly, I am blind, but sometimes the truth of it just comes and slaps me in the face. When it does, I worship. As I should.

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