November 13, 2009 | David F. Coppedge

Is the Universe Evolving Upward?

It’s intuitively obvious that to get from a big bang to intelligent astronomers looking for evidence of the bang through telescopes, the amount of organization in the universe must increase over time dramatically.  Lately, astronomy has uncovered much more dynamism in space than previously recognized – but much of it seems destructive, not creative.

  1. Orion blast:  Look at the picture in this article on PhysOrg.  Something explosive happened in Orion.  It sent at least 40 stars careening outward at speeds up to 300,000 miles per hour.  They’re not sure what it was, but it had to pack a punch to fling out that much material.  “The energy in this explosive display is estimated to be as much as that from a hundred trillion suns; nothing else quite like it is known.”  The explosion is thought to have occurred just 500 years ago.
        Yet the Orion Nebula is often described as a “nursery of massive stars.”  Even its rare supernovae are described with creative energy: “the birth of massive stars involves a subset of the processes that produce all stars, while their deaths, as supernovae, will scatter into space the rich mix of chemical elements made in their nuclear furnaces, elements without which life could not exist.”  The power of suggestion leaves one thinking these explosions are giving birth to highly-organized complexes of matter called living cells.
  2. Crash into life:  “Was life founded on cyanide from space crashes?New Scientist asked.  In one sentence we have two destructive energetic things – crashes and cyanide – leading to life.  The article later spoke of “Life-giving poison.”
  3. Black holes:  Live Science wrote of black holes as “powerhouses of the universe.”  That they may be, but they are formed from the destruction of stars and result in singularities, where all information and order is lost.  What these energetic events create, if anything, is high-power cosmic rays that rip through our flesh after traveling across the universe.  “We detect some of these particles on Earth, where they still pack such a punch they can knock out electronics systems.”  The article was not trying to ascribe creative powers to black holes or cosmic rays.  It should be noted, though, that energy and organization are not one and the same.
  4. The outer limits:  One of the most energetic explosions known in space is enabling astronomers to probe the “dark ages” of the universe, reported PhysOrg.  Gamma-ray bursts are thought to occur when massive stars run out of fuel and collapse.  The rebound sends shock waves that are the most luminous events known.  The astronomers say this distant burst occurred when the universe was just 5% of its age, but involved the destruction of a star that must have been formed some other way.

Cosmology enthusiasts are aware that astronomers have argued over dark matter for decades.  PhysOrg asked if we really need dark matter.  The short article entertains the minority opinion that “we are simply misinterpreting the data and that what in fact is happening is that we don’t understand gravity.”  If we don’t yet understand something as everyday as gravity, it could be judged hubristic to presume we could understand the origin of complex entities like stars and life.

You may find an article posted this month in ICR Acts & Facts magazine pertinent to this discussion.

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