The Cinch Review

Life’s a Miracle

Via Joe Carter (Fine-Tuning an Argument and a Universe) I followed a link to this page on Hugh Ross, an astrophysicist who has identified twenty-six “parameters for the universe [which] must have values falling within narrowly defined ranges for life of any kind to exist.”

It certainly makes for some fascinating reading, and if you like you can click the button below for an appropriate musical accompaniment. The parameters are listed below the clip.

1. strong nuclear force constant
If larger: no hydrogen; nuclei essential for life would be unstable
If smaller: no elements other than hydrogen
2. Weak nuclear force constant
If larger: too much hydrogen converted to helium in big bang, hence too much heavy element material made by star burning; no expulsion of heavy elements from stars
If smaller: too little helium produced from big bang, hence too little heavy element material made by star burning; no expulsion of heavy elements from stars
3. Gravitational force constant
If larger: stars would be too hot and would burn up too quickly and too unevenly
If smaller: stars would remain so cool that nuclear fusion would never ignite, hence no heavy element production
4. Electromagnetic force constant
If larger: insufficient chemical bonding; elements more massive than boron would be too unstable for fission
If smaller: insufficient chemical bonding
5. Ratio of electromagnetic force constant to gravitational force constant
If larger: no stars less than 1.4 solar masses hence short stellar life spans and uneven stellar luminosities
If smaller: no stars more than 0.8 solar masses, hence no heavy element production
6. Ratio of electron to proton mass
If larger: insufficient chemical bonding
If smaller: insufficient chemical bonding
7. Ratio of numbers of protons to electrons
If larger: electromagnetism would dominate gravity, preventing galaxy, star, and planet formation
If smaller: electromagnetism would dominate gravity, preventing galaxy, star, and planet formation
8. Expansion rate of the universe
If larger: no galaxy formation
If smaller: universe would collapse prior to star formation
9. Entropy level of the universe
If smaller: no proto-galaxy formation
If larger: no star condensation within the proto-galaxies
10. Mass density of the universe
If larger: too much deuterium from big bang hence stars burn too rapidly
If smaller: insufficient helium from big bang, hence too few heavy elements forming
11. Velocity of light
If faster: stars would be too luminous
If slower: stars would not be luminous enough
12. Age of the universe
If older: no solar-type stars in a stable burning phase in the right part of the galaxy
If younger: solar-type stars in a stable burning phase would not yet have formed
13. Initial uniformity of radiation
If smoother: stars, star clusters, and galaxies would not have formed
If coarser: universe by now would be mostly black holes and empty space
14. Fine structure constant (a number used to describe the fine structure splitting of spectral lines)
If larger: DNA would be unable to function; no stars more than 0.7 solar masses
If smaller: DNA would be unable to function; no stars less than 1.8 solar masses
15. average distance between galaxies
if larger: insufficient gas would be infused into our galaxy to sustain star formation over an adequate time span
if smaller: the sun¹s orbit would be too radically disturbed
16. average distance between stars
if larger: heavy element density too thin for rocky planets to form
if smaller: planetary orbits would become destabilized
17. decay rate of the proton
if greater: life would be exterminated by the release of radiation
if smaller: insufficient matter in the universe for life
18. 12Carbon (12C) to 16Oxygen (16O) energy level ratio
if larger: insufficient oxygen
if smaller: insufficient carbon
19. ground state energy level for 4Helium (4He)
if larger: insufficient carbon and oxygen
if smaller: insufficient carbon and oxygen
20. decay rate of 8Beryllium (8Be)
if slower: heavy element fusion would generate catastrophic explosions in all the stars
if faster: no element production beyond beryllium and, hence, no life chemistry possible
21. mass excess of the neutron over the proton
if greater: neutron decay would leave too few neutrons to form the heavy elements essential for life
if smaller: proton decay would cause all stars to collapse rapidly into neutron stars or black holes
22. initial excess of nucleons over anti-nucleons
if greater: too much radiation for planets to form
if smaller: not enough matter for galaxies or stars to form
23. polarity of the water molecule
if greater: heat of fusion and vaporization would be too great for life to exist
if smaller: heat of fusion and vaporization would be too small for life¹s existence; liquid water would become too inferior a solvent for life chemistry to proceed; ice would not float, leading to a runaway freeze-up
24. supernovae eruptions
if too close: radiation would exterminate life on the planet
if too far: not enough heavy element ashes for the formation of rocky planets
if too frequent: life on the planet would be exterminated
if too infrequent: not enough heavy element ashes for the formation of rocky planets
if too late: life on the planet would be exterminated by radiation
if too soon: not enough heavy element ashes for the formation of rocky planets
25. white dwarf binaries
if too few: insufficient fluorine produced for life chemistry to proceed
if too many: disruption of planetary orbits from stellar density; life on the planet would be exterminated
if too soon: not enough heavy elements made for efficient fluorine production
if too late: fluorine made too late for incorporation in proto-planet
26. ratio of exotic to ordinary matter
if smaller: galaxies would not form
if larger: universe would collapse before solar type stars could form

(Music by Paddy McAloon and Prefab Sprout, from the album Andromeda Heights.)

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