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Monthly Archives: July 2010

Release Date: July 14, 2010

Our understanding of the universe and the nature of reality itself has drastically changed over the last 100 years, and it’s on the verge of another seismic shift. In a 17-mile-long tunnel buried 570 feet beneath the Franco-Swiss border, the world’s largest and most powerful atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider, is powering up. Its goal is nothing less than recreating the first instants of creation, when the universe was unimaginably hot and long-extinct forms of matter sizzled and cooled into stars, planets, and ultimately, us. These incredibly small and exotic particles hold the keys to the greatest mysteries of the universe. What we find could validate our long-held theories about how the world works and what we are made of. Or, all of our notions about the essence of what is real will fall apart.

What Are We Made Of?
By Jonathan Atteberry, HowStuffWorks.com

Protons, Neutrons and Electrons Only Part of the Picture

What are we made of? The question has rankled scientists and philosophers for millennia, and even with the amazing progress made in fields like particle physics and astronomy, we are left with only a partial answer. We know, of course, that the visible world is composed of protons, neutrons and electrons that combine to form atoms of different elements, and we know those elements are the building blocks of the planets and stars that give rise to solar systems and galaxies.

What we didn’t know until very recently, however, is that those protons, neutrons and electrons appear to form less than 5 percent of the universe, and questions remain about how these building blocks arose. If regular matter represents only a small slice of the universe, what is the rest of the universe made of?

Such questions prompted the construction of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) beneath the border between France and Switzerland. As the world’s largest particle accelerator, experts designed the LHC to recreate conditions that occurred shortly after the very foundation of universe itself. Here are a few of the mysteries scientists hope the LHC and other particle accelerators can shed light on.

According to NASA, more than 95 percent of the universe actually exists in the form of dark matter and dark energy which, inconveniently, is very difficult to observe. If dark matter and dark energy are so difficult to find, how do we know they even exist? The wind offers a simple analogy; you can’t see it, but you can observe its effect on the world around you. In this case, dark matter and dark energy are necessary to explain the gravitational pull and density of the universe, among other things.

Different theories explain what dark matter is actually made of, and many of them state that most dark matter can’t be composed of the same protons, neutrons and electrons that form regular matter. For instance, one theory states that dark matter is made up of the lightest of a group of particles known as supersymmetrical particles. So far, supersymmetrical particles haven’t been proven to exist, but scientists hope the Atlas and CMS experiments at the LHC will detect them and bring us closer to understanding dark matter’s composition.

Missing Antimatter

For every particle of matter, there’s a particle of antimatter — or at least there should be. Indeed, when antimatter, which is an oppositely charged version of matter, has been created in laboratories, the equivalent amount of matter was also created. What’s more, when matter and antimatter meet one another, they annihilate each other and become energy. And yet we live in a universe filled with matter, leaving scientists to wonder what happened to all of the antimatter that should, in theory, have been created at the beginning of the universe. Recreating those same conditions at the LHC, scientists hope to discover why everything around us is made of matter rather than antimatter and, furthermore, exactly why there appears to be so little antimatter remaining in the universe.

We take it for granted that matter has mass, but some scientists think this wasn’t always the case. In fact, the predominant model used to explain the forces and substance of the universe, known as the Standard Model, predicts that particles had no mass at all shortly after the creation of the universe. Scientists theorize those particles gained their mass only later, when they were exposed to the Higgs boson field and interacted with a particle known as the Higgs boson. The more matter interacted with the Higgs boson, the greater its mass became. The Higgs boson has never been observed, however, so the search continues at the LHC and elsewhere. To look for the elusive particle, scientists must smash particles into one another at extremely high speeds. Among the smaller, less stable particles that result from this process, scientists hope they will eventually find traces of a Higgs boson.

Answers From the Large Hadron Collider

It seems every new discovery in the world of particle physics gives rise to a host of new questions. The LHC is designed specifically to answer some of those questions. Because the LHC is able to generate higher amounts of energy from its collisions than any other particle accelerator on the planet, it can effectively recreate some of the very earliest moments in the universe, when matter as we know it didn’t exist. Better yet, the LHC hasn’t begun to operate at its full potential, meaning we’ve only begun to see what sorts of things it’s capable of. And with each new discovery gained from the LHC, scientists will be able to validate some theories and discard others, inching us ever closer to truly understanding what we are made of.

Video (Playlist): http://www.youtube.com/user/Moesty19#g/c/61923C88D06564D1

Release Date: July 14, 2010

Aliens almost certainly do exist. So why haven’t we yet met E.T.? It turns out we’re only just developing instruments powerful enough to scan for them, and science sophisticated enough to know where to look. As a result, race is on to find the first intelligent aliens. But what would they look like, and how would they interact with us if we met? The answers may come to us sooner than we imagine, for one leading astronomer believes she may already have heard a hint of their first efforts to communicate.

What Was the “Wow!” Signal?
By Susan Nasr, HowStuffWorks.com

The Astronomers

Of all the signals received in the search for intelligent extraterrestrials, the Wow! signal is one that many people remember. And Jerry Ehman was the man who wrote it. Ehman taught astronomy and electrical engineering at Ohio State University and worked on early projects for Big Ear, a radio telescope at the university. These telescopes collect radio waves from space. Because cosmic radio waves are weak, the telescope collecting dishes have to be large, more than three football fields long in Big Ear’s case.

Ohio State let Ehman go after cutting Big Ear’s funding. Undeterred, he came back to Big Ear as a volunteer. Two colleagues helped Ehman. Without John Kraus, who conceived of the telescope, Big Ear wouldn’t have been listening. Robert Dixon, Kraus’s former student, designed Big Ear’s search plan, choosing the radio wavelength to listen to, and he corrected the listening to account for our galaxy’s spin. Without Dixon’s correction, Big Ear would have listened to the wrong wavelength.

To a layperson, the telescope looked like a shiny parking lot, with a wall on either end. One wall faced the sky to collect radio waves. Those waves traversed the ground, which was covered with a sheet of aluminum to preserve the signals and block interference, to the other wall, a curved one that sent the waves to a receiver. In 1973, Big Ear began searching for radio signals from life outside of our solar system. To do this, the telescope rotated with the Earth, collecting radio waves in a cone-shaped beam.

The Signal

Big Ear had been searching for four years when it detected the signal on the night of Aug. 15, 1977. At the time, the telescope was looking in the direction of the center of our Milky Way galaxy, outside of our solar system. The signal was strong. Over the one minute and 12 seconds the waves were in the telescope’s search beam, the signal ranged from 5 to 30 times stronger than the background radio noise before it disappeared. Days later, Jerry Ehman saw the printout from Big Ear’s computer. With no one around to tell, he circled the sequence and wrote “Wow!”

Maybe the signal came from an object in space. Plenty of natural objects, from stars to black holes, emit radio waves. But on Wow’s line of sight in the sky, there were no known astronomical sources of radio waves at all. Wow did hail from a spot near Sagittarius A, a huge source of radio waves at the center of our galaxy, but the signal’s line of sight in the sky traced to a different line of sight. Of all the sources known then, Wow didn’t seem to come from a natural object in space. The radio signal also was narrowband; it ranged over few frequencies, unlike most natural radio sources in space, whose emissions range over many, many frequencies.

Later, Kraus wondered whether the radio waves came from an Earthly instrument in space. A circling satellite or a probe on a programmed course through space could have sent the radio waves as it sent data back to Earth. But the facts didn’t add up. First, Kraus’s group checked their list for instruments in space at the time. Nope. They made calls to see if they missed something. No luck. Besides that, humans usually send instruments to investigate moons and planets in our solar system, and the signal came from a plane apart from that plane. And second, man-made transmissions weren’t allowed at the 21-centimeter radio wavelength to which Big Ear was listening.

Kraus’s group began considering other events. Maybe a radio wave sent from Earth hit space debris and was reflected, Jerry Ehman once thought, but later decided the pattern didn’t match. Or the Wow! signal could have come from extraterrestrials. No data allows us to rule this out.

The answer is we don’t know. In 100 more observations of Wow’s sector by Big Ear, and more by others with different telescopes, no signal like Wow came again. It’s a common difficulty in the search for intelligent extraterrestrials: signals that look promising but can’t be thoroughly studied because they don’t repeat. Using their optical telescope, Paul Horowitz and Carl Sagan found 37 such signals during a decade-long search ending in 1995. But the search continues.

Video (Playlist): http://www.youtube.com/user/Moesty19#g/c/4053C848DFFF3D13

Release Date: July 7, 2010

Everywhere we look, life exists in both the most hospitable of environments and in the most extreme. Yet we have only ever found life on our planet. How did the stuff of stars come together to create life as we know it? What do we really mean by ‘life’? And will unlocking this mystery help us find life elsewhere?

Where Do We Come From?
By Jacob Silverman, HowStuffWorks.com

In the Beginning

About 4.6 billion years ago, our solar system resembled a giant cloud of swirling cosmic dust, hydrogen and other gases. As with the thousands of other such clouds in our galaxy, some of these molecules began condensing, gathering and creating their own gravity. Eventually these small clumps formed what became our sun — a star surrounded by a quickly moving, flat disc made up of the cloud’s leftovers. These leftovers also developed into our solar system’s planets, asteroid belt and other interstellar bodies.

Earth’s relative proximity to the sun meant that gases were largely burned away in those early days, leaving a rocky, metal-rich planet made from planetesimals, or smaller cosmic bodies. These same planetesimals also may have brought water and gases later. Often made of ice, they helped to plant the seeds for what would become a fertile, water-rich planet with a healthy atmosphere, capable of protecting life from the sun’s harmful rays.

Although scientists generally agree upon the story of Earth’s formation, no widely accepted scientific consensus exists over the origins of life on Earth, although most hypotheses contain common elements. It’s thought that up to 4 billion years ago, nucleic acids (DNA and RNA are both nucleic acids) began combining. Following that, these primitive bundles somehow developed into enzymes and later single-celled organisms. A lot of the critical intermediate steps have flummoxed researchers.

But it was these early single-celled bacteria that probably formed the basis for all subsequent life. What is life? The biologist Andrew Knoll has defined it as something having the ability to grow, reproduce and engage in Darwinian evolution. This last feature is made possible when some source of variation is introduced, such as a genetic mutation, and it survives the process of natural selection. Over several billion years, these early organisms adapted and evolved innumerable times, producing millions of highly diverse and complex species.

Still, a number of unanswered questions about the origin of life on Earth and where we come from remain. For one, how did these early nucleic acid combinations develop in a methane-dominated atmosphere yet develop into organisms that require an oxygen-dominated atmosphere?

Questions like these drive experiments looking at how life began on Earth and how it might develop elsewhere. One well-known experiment took place in 1952, when scientists Stanley Miller and Harold Urey placed water, hydrogen, ammonia and methane in a beaker in order to approximate the most common elements in the early Earth atmosphere. They then applied an electrical charge — imitating lightning — that led to the formation of amino acids. In this way, Miller and Urey showed that life, or at least the building blocks of life, could form out of the basic chemistry and conditions of the planet, and that life is a process deriving in large part from chemical interactions.

This notion of life as chemistry has been profoundly influential, and it also extends more generally into how life and the Earth are interconnected — for example, how plants use photosynthesis to produce oxygen and regulate carbon dioxide levels, thereby creating a healthy atmosphere for other planetary residents.

Yet life on other planets may not look like what we have here. Most organisms on Earth essentially are made up of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen, but life elsewhere may be non-carbon-based — perhaps silicon-based, as silicon is comparable chemically to carbon.

Or, extraterrestrial life may be even more bizarre than we imagine. In 2007, a study found interstellar dust, made up of plasma crystals, that organized itself into helical shapes, the same physical structure of DNA. Falling under the theoretical category of “weird life,” these inorganic crystals even seemed to evolve, with stronger crystals replacing weaker ones that broke down. However, it’s important to note that we’re looking at these crystals through our definition of life — reproduction, development, evolution. In fact, true extraterrestrial life may be (relatively) stranger than anything we have yet imagined.

Video (Playlist): http://www.youtube.com/user/Moesty19#g/c/849AB7D1F20DA140

Release Date: June 30, 2010

Every cosmologist and astronomer agrees: our Universe is 13.7 billion years old. Using cutting-edge technology, scientists are now able to take a snapshot of the Universe a mere heartbeat after its birth. Armed with hypersensitive satellites, astronomers look back in time to the very moment of creation, when all the matter in the Universe exploded into existence. It is here that we uncover an unsolved mystery as old as time itself — if the Universe was born, where did it come from? Meet the leading scientists who have now discovered what they believe to be the origin of our Universe, and a window into the time before time.

Where did the Universe Come from?
By Heather Quinlan, HowStuffWorks.com

The big bang theory holds that the entire universe was once packed tightly into an unimaginably dense and tiny space, known as a “singularity.” That is, until roughly 13.7 billion years ago, when a colossal burst of energy and pressure started to give rise to entire worlds, galaxies and interstellar particles, forming the universe as we know it today.

But what brought about that big bang?

Physicists are left scratching their heads at that question. Since the universe began on such a tiny level, the laws of relativity don’t fully apply. Instead, quantum theory, which deals with the lawless and bizarre world of the very small, must also be summoned. Successfully answering the question of what existed before the big bang would require bridging the gap between the so-far mutually incompatible worlds of relativism and quantum mechanics. But even though that bridge has yet to be constructed, theories abound.

“Our universe could have either popped into existence or collided with another universe,” theoretical physicist Michio Kaku told scienceline.org. “Big Bangs happen all the time.”

Building off that idea, cosmologists Paul Steinhardt and Neil Turok believe they have the answer, in what they’ve termed a “cyclic universe” — that our three-dimensional universe is but a much smaller part of an even larger multi-universe, one that exists in a space of 11 dimensions and contains other universes within. The lynchpin holding this idea together is “M-theory,” or the idea that our universe, as well as other universes, is actually a membrane. The big bang is the aftermath of a collision between two of these membranes.

This means that not only was there a time before the big bang, but that the universe we live in is not the only one. In fact, it may be one of an infinite number of universes, and the big bang may simply be a chapter in an even greater cosmic story.

The Big Crunch?

So even though we’re unsure how the universe began, are we closer to determining how it will end? Well, for every big bang, there may be a big crunch — a term that sums up what may befall our universe. The big crunch theory postulates that the universe will ultimately reach a point where it will no longer be able to expand, and gravity will force it to collapse into itself, returning it to its initial singularity state — where it may one day expand again in a big bang. But this shouldn’t be the stuff of nightmares, as there are cosmologists who think the universe may be a membrane that expands forever. For now, the end, like the beginning, remains a mystery.

Video (Playlist): http://www.youtube.com/user/Moesty19#g/c/5E3CF3EA699BC9E4

Release Date: June 23, 2010

Einstein’s Theory of Relativity says that time travel is perfectly possible — if you’re going forward. Finding a way to travel backwards requires breaking the speed of light, which so far seems impossible. But now, strange-but-true phenomena such as quantum nonlocality, where particles instantly teleport across vast distances, may give us a way to make the dream of traveling back and forth through time a reality. Step into a time machine and rewrite history, bring loved ones back to life, control our destinies. But if we succeed, what are the consequences of such freedom? Will we get trapped in a plethora of paradoxes and multiple universes that will destroy the fabric of the universe?

Could We Travel Back in Time, Thanks to Entanglement Physics?
By Susan Nasr, HowStuffWorks.com

Entangling Einstein

Einstein said that nothing travels faster than the speed of light, but when physicists look at how entangled particles behave, they get stuck in a mirage in which that tenet appears not to be true.

Physicists don’t fully understand entanglement, beyond it being a relationship between particles. If you want to know what entanglement looks like, pull up a chair to an experiment that has produced it. Researchers at the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis and the University of Geneva shone a laser made of photons, the basic units of light, into the crystal. When the laser’s photons hit irregularities in the crystal, single photons sometimes split into two. These daughter photons were related to one another, and to their parent photon, in how much energy they had.

You can think of the parent photon as being like a train, and the crystal like many bumps. When the train hit the bumps, it broke into two chains of cars with related directions and speeds. These daughter photons weren’t just related, but entangled. Particles are entangled if they’re related in one property but random in the rest.

Entangled particles don’t have to be related in energy. They might be ions whose spins are always opposite, ions that always move in opposite directions, or an ion that always spins in a certain way when a photon moves in a certain way. Since the property is always one of particles — photons, electrons, neutrons and the like — and quantum mechanics are the rules that govern particles, the state is called quantum entanglement.

Whatever links these particles, the link holds over any distance. Another group at the University of Geneva entangled photons used the crystal setup just mentioned and sent the photons 18 kilometers (11 miles) apart and showed they were still entangled.

So far, entanglement sounds like a force. After all, electrons repel, whether they’re millimeters or miles apart, but that repulsion weakens the farther apart the electrons are. Entangled particles have related properties, no matter the distance, and that’s just one way in which entanglement acts unlike the forces we know.

A Challenge to Special Relativity?

What links entangled particles then? By one idea, information travels between them. Physicists have found, though, that if information — say, a wave — did travel between entangled particles, it would have to move faster than the speed of light. That’s a problem because Einstein’s special relativity, an undisputed theory of physics, says nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. Was Einstein wrong?

In an opposing idea, called nonlocality, no information, no particles, no anything travels between entangled particles. There’s no need. The particles are strangely related in a way nature knows but our physics hasn’t yet defined.

Physicists don’t yet know which, if either, of these ideas is accurate. Clearly, the possibility that special relativity needs corrections causes some physicists distress.

For fun, let’s suppose that entangled particles achieve their state by sending information between one another faster than the speed of light. We need a messenger to carry the information. The candidate? The tachyon, a hypothetical particle not known to exist that travels faster than the speed of light. Now that we’ve broken special relativity’s rules and made tachyons exist, let’s run an experiment.

Pretend all the clocks in the world are broken. To tell time, we have only point A and point B. We say time has moved forward when light, leaving A, reaches B. When light leaves A, it’s ‘now.’ When light reaches B, it’s ‘later.’ Now, we release two things: a photon (light) and a tachyon from A. No surprise: The tachyon will reach B first. When the tachyon reaches B, what time is it? It’s before now. What happened? Did the tachyon move backward in time?

It’s weird, but those are the rules in a world where tachyons exist. So we can see how the idea of information traveling faster than light, if that’s indeed how entangled particles achieve their relationship, would stir up physics. But so far, this looks unlikely.

Video (Playlist): http://www.youtube.com/user/Moesty19#g/c/57D1B9DDDF6BC86E

Release Date: June 16, 2010

They are the most powerful objects in the universe. Nothing, not even light, can escape the gravitational pull of a black hole. Astronomers now believe there are billions of them out in the cosmos, swallowing up planets, even entire stars in violent feeding frenzies. New theoretical research into the twisted reality of black holes suggests that three-dimensional space could be an illusion. That reality actually takes place on a two-dimensional hologram at the edge of the universe.

What is a Black Hole?
By William R. Harris, HowStuffWorks.com

Black Holes? Absurd!

Black holes are almost as difficult to imagine as they are to detect, but a few scientists have been up for the task over the centuries. Cambridge scholar John Michell wrote a paper in 1783 in which he hypothesized the existence of “dark stars” — stars so large and with so much gravity that light wouldn’t escape their surfaces. Most astronomers of the day thought it was an absurd notion.

Then, in 1915, Einstein published his general theory of relativity, providing a framework that allowed for a reinterpretation of Michell’s hypothesis. An Indian graduate student by the name of Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar piggybacked on Einstein’s theories to suggest that stars of a certain size — much larger than our sun — would experience a catastrophic collapse at the end of their lives, thereby transforming the bodies into cosmic vacuum cleaners whose powerful gravity could suck all light and matter into their black maws.

The thought experiments of these scientists and many others have produced our modern conception of black holes. We now believe they are the end products of enormous stars, which often explode in spectacular supernovas before shriveling up into tiny, cold, superdense balls. At the core rests a singularity, a point where all of the object’s matter is compressed into a region of infinite density. Enveloping the singularity is a sphere of extraordinary gravitational pull directed toward the singularity. The outer edge of the sphere forms the event horizon. As long as an object remains beyond the event horizon, it can escape. But if it falls within this point of no return, it can’t escape gravity and disappears down the black hole’s gullet.

Since the late 1920s, astronomers have been on the hunt for black holes, trying to prove their existence with empirical data. Although it’s difficult to observe an object that doesn’t transmit light, scientists have found other ways to “see” black holes indirectly. One tried-and-true method involves looking for a visible star whose orbit is disturbed in some unexpected way. In many cases, the star’s motion can only be explained if one assumes it’s locked in the gravitational grip of an unseen object. Astronomers have found numerous stars fitting this description and now believe several of these so-called binary star systems, such as Cygnus X-1, may harbor black holes. In fact, sometimes, binary systems can contain two black holes.

Astronomers have other tricks for detection up their sleeves. They know, for example, that black holes emit other forms of electromagnetic energy, so a search for strong sources of radio waves and X-rays could reveal potential targets. X-ray emissions have proven to be particularly telling because all matter sucked into a black hole produces a blast of X-rays just before it gets swallowed.

In 2007, NASA’s Chandra Observatory spotted X-ray “echoes” coming from Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), the black hole thought to be at the center of our own Milky Way. Scientists speculate that the original burst of energy came roaring through space when a planet-sized object slid over Sgr A*’s event horizon and disappeared forever.

Still, astronomers would love to observe a black hole directly, and they’ve set their sights on Sgr A*. Although Sgr A* resides in our home galaxy, it’s 26,000 light-years away from Earth — much too far away for optical telescopes to see clearly. In fact, astronomers would need an optical telescope 3,107 miles (5,000 kilometers) in diameter just to get a good look at the black hole, so scientists are turning to a technique known as very long baseline interferometry (VLBI). This technique involves linking a global network of radio telescopes — in essence creating a single, enormous device — to produce images of far-away objects.

In 2008, MIT scientists studied the event horizon of Sgr A* using a three-telescope array. Although the team wasn’t able to produce images of the event horizon’s full silhouette, it was able to see bright spots believed to be either super-heated matter swirling around the black hole or a high-speed jet of matter being ejected by the black hole. Future VLBI studies using more radio telescopes should provide a fully resolved image of Sgr A*’s event horizon. The same technique may also be able to see the black hole at the center of M87, a giant elliptical galaxy lying 60 million light-years away, even more clearly. When they obtain these images, astronomers will finally have the evidence they need to say black holes are a reality and not a figment of our imagination.

Video (Playlist): http://www.youtube.com/user/Moesty19#g/c/01D8388AEB9BD475

Release Date: June 9, 2010

It’s perhaps the biggest, most controversial mystery in the cosmos. Did our Universe just come into being by random chance, or was it created by a God who nurtures and sustains all life? The latest science is showing that the four forces governing our universe are phenomenally finely tuned. So finely that it had led many to the conclusion that someone, or something, must have calibrated them; a belief further backed up by evidence that everything in our universe may emanate from one extraordinarily elegant and beautiful design known as the E8 Lie Group. While skeptics hold that these findings are neither conclusive nor evidence of a divine creator, some cutting edge physicists are already positing who this God is: an alien gamester who’s created our world as the ultimate SIM game for his own amusement. It’s an answer as compelling as it is disconcerting.

Is There a Creator?
By Nathan Chandler, HowStuffWorks.com

For centuries, philosophers and scientists have marveled at the complexity of our universe and asked a lot of hard questions. Are we the only intelligent life in the universe? Is the entire universe and life on Earth simply the chance result of a combination of physical phenomena? Or did some supreme being somehow plan and then will this universe into existence?

Many physicists and philosophers alike have argued that it’s very unlikely that our universe is the product of pure chance. They insist that nature alone could not achieve the precarious balance of forces that resulted in the equilibrium of galaxies and life forms we know. They say that this finely-tuned universe was guided by a great being we have yet to understand.

This theory of fine tuning bases its assertions on the constants of nature. The most commonly referenced constants are gravity, electromagnetic force, and strong and weak nuclear forces. Proponents of the fine-tuning assertion say that if the intensity of any of these constants changed — even in the smallest amount — our universe would be a very different place, and much more inhospitable to life as we know it.

Some quirky and fortunate physics came into play as these constants guided the universe’s formation. For example, take the existence of carbon, which is the foundation of all life. Carbon results from the binding of three helium atoms. Statistically, creating prolific amounts of carbon is very unlikely, because each of the three atoms has slightly different energy levels that preclude the economical formation of carbon.

But the electromagnetic and strong nuclear constants level out the energy levels of the helium atoms — as a result, carbon forms. Even a tiny change in either of these constants would greatly inhibit carbon production, and thus, greatly reduce the potential for life.

Similarly, the special relationship between the weak nuclear force and gravity allowed for the preservation of hydrogen during the Big Bang, which would have otherwise transformed the hydrogen into helium. Without hydrogen, there’d be no water.

Likewise, the narrowly defined initial conditions present at the birth of our universe were critical to ensuring its survival. Most scientists agree that the big bang marked the beginning of our universe, and that the forces involved in this event were calibrated with the same care as the rest of the laws of physics. For example, when the big bang occurred, the force of gravity wasn’t so strong that it immediately collapsed the new universe back into itself. Instead, it let matter expand steadily into all directions. Atoms circled and joined together to create stars, planets, solar systems and eventually, life.

There are many arguments against the finely tuned universe. Some opponents claim that the sheer vastness of our universe shows that there could be infinite permutations in the combination of physical laws, and that as mere humans bound by the laws of our own universe, we simply cannot observe other universes. Other doubters say we just can’t yet comprehend the physical laws that rule our universe. With more time and insight, they say, we’ll disprove the notion of a supernatural creator.

However, we can all agree that the universe is an overwhelmingly complex place. The most intelligent human minds of history have uncovered countless tantalizing clues as to our origins, but complete answers to all of our questions still evade our understanding. Eventually, we may find that the finely tuned universe assertion offered key insights into the existence of a super-intelligent creator. At the very least, the concepts driving these assertions confirm one thing for sure — our universe is, without a doubt, a magnificently calibrated design that won’t be unraveled and fully understood anytime soon.

Video (Playlist): http://www.youtube.com/user/Moesty19#g/c/6A01745CA277EC8F