"Meteorite Dust Hints at Solar System's Origins"
Space.com (July 30, 2009)
"Where do we come from? The answer varies depending on how far back you want to look. Researchers are studying the oldest meteorite grains to figure out the origin of our solar system. Some of the planet-making material may have resulted from another galaxy smacking into ours.
"Around 4.6 billion years ago, our yellow star and its planet-filled disk arose out of a dense molecular cloud. Most of the details about this pre-solar environment were lost to heating of the primordial gas and dust, but some rocky grains escaped alteration and therefore preserve clues of our solar system's distant past.
" 'Presolar grains are the oldest materials in the solar system,' says Philipp Heck of the University of Chicago. 'The ages of the grains clearly indicate that they are older than the solar system.'..."
Astronomy? Science?! 'Where do We Come From?' in a Catholic Blog?!!Yeah. I'll get back to that.
'Where do We Come From?There's a standard joke about the little girl who asked, "Daddy, where did I come from?" She waits, patiently, while her father squirms with his unwillingness to discuss such things. Then she cuts him short and says, "Billy says he's from Topeka: Where do I come from?"
As the lead in this article says, "Where do we come from? The answer varies depending on how far back you want to look...."
Right now, astronomers and cosmologists are pretty sure that the Solar system is around 4,600,000,000 years old. These presolar grains, found in a particular meteorite, are older than that.
It looks like they formed after a smaller galaxy collided with our Milky Way galaxy, about 6,000,000,000 years back: which makes the grains a lot younger than the researchers were expecting.
Long story made short, it looks like something rather energetic (the article says, "dramatic") happened right before our Solar system formed. And that this event may have had something to do with the Solar system's formation.
I'll let you read the article for yourself: it's a pretty good, and fairly non-technical, overview of what's been going on.
I've discussed faith and reason, religion and science, in another post. (March 20, 2009) I'm not going to go over that too much today - it's getting late in my time zone, and I've still got a task or to I want to finish.
What Kind of a Christian Goes Around, Being Interested in Creation?A person doesn't have to have a keen interest in what God put together, to be a Christian. But I think it helps.
I think I've said this before, but it bears repeating: I'm of the opinion that you can learn about a person by looking at what that person makes. You might discover that the person like ducks or the color blue, is careless or meticulous or prefers very simple (or complex) things.
My starting assumption is that God created the universe. The Catholic church doesn't insist that I believe that the universe started on a particular date, at a particular time of day, in 4004 BC. (That's not likely, considering who came up with that particular 'Bible truth.' (March 5, 2009)) June 8, 2009) So be it.
Now I have to think more about free will and sin - but nobody said this was going to be easy.
So, God Created the Universe: What Can I Learn from That?For starters, God's sense of scale is more than a trifle more flexible than mine. The universe, what we've been able to observe of it, is big both in space and time. It's also built out of units that can be divided into smaller units until we start running into what's been called quantum foam.
So: God thinks big, and with an attention to detail that I can't match. (Big surprise.)
I think - and this just my perceptions, nothing official - that God likes to play with patterns the way that a composer plays with a theme in a symphony.
For example, we see spirals everywhere - in water as it drains out of a basin, and in hurricanes, snail shells, sunflower heads, and many galaxies. Same general pattern: repeated at different scales in different media.
There's more. Someone quipped that God must like bats: there are so many species of them. Cultural antipathies aside, I can see why that might be so: I've seen the critters in good illumination - and, rarely, in daylight - and the ones we have around here have beautifully fine, shiny fur. Sure, those leather wings take a little getting used to: but there's a delicate beauty to those, too.
Still, I don't think they'll supplant parakeets, cats, and dogs as generally-accepted pets.
Back to Those Dust GrainsWe're in the process of learning more about 'where we came from' - more precisely, about the mechanisms by which the Solar system formed. I'm looking forward to learning more about what cosmologists, physicists, and astronomers think has been going on.
Vaguely related posts:
- "Dinosaurs, Mutant Chickens, Evolution, and Faith in God"
(June 29, 2009)
- "Bringing Back the Dinosaurs: Not a Crazy Idea Any More"
Apathetic Lemming of the North (June 29, 2009)
- "Faith and Reason, Religion and Science"
(March 20, 2009)
- "Catholic Church, Creationism, Evolution, Facts and Faith"
(March 5, 2009)
- "A Serious Search for Other Worlds, Life, and - Maybe - Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence"
Apathetic Lemming of the North (Most recently updated August 10, 2009)
- "Vatican scientist says belief in God and aliens is OK"
Reuters (May 14, 2008)
- "Once it Was Believed / Now We Know"
Brian H. Gill (2003)