September 3, 2014 | David F. Coppedge

Impacts: Creators or Destroyers?

Some astronomers invest a lot of creative power in bangs, crashes and explosions.

Fiery star birth:  In Science Magazine,  Volker Bromm talks about the “Imprint of an ancient conflagration.”  Fiery conflagrations are not usually sources of order, but Bromm thinks a paper in the magazine suggests that observed high-energy radiation is a clue to the birth of the first stars.

Star dust:  Astronomers publishing in Science Magazine found evidence of an asteroid collision.  They got all excited, thinking this is how planets are born.  “The final assembly of terrestrial planets occurs via massive collisions, which can launch copious clouds of dust that are warmed by the star and glow in the infrared,” they say, reasoning that the debris disk around this star must be in its maternity ward stage, given that the star is only 35 million years old.  Astrobiology Magazine joined the imagination fest, claiming that “This type of collision can eventually lead to the formation of planets.”

Orion rocks!  The National Radio Astronomy Observatory detected pebble-size objects around some stars in the Orion nebula.  Although they briefly considered the pebbles might be debris from disruptive collisions, they preferred the interpretation that the “Pebble-Size Particles May Jump-Start Planet Formation.”  At least that’s the hypothesis that made the headline.

Life in hellScience Daily, in “Asteroid impacts significantly altered ancient Earth,” hopes the alterations were for the better.  The report from Arizona State speaks of the terror of major impacts on Earth during the Hadean (hell-like) era.  The bombardment only hardened the life-forms struggling to emerge: “Any life emerging during the Hadean eon likely needed to be resistant to high temperatures, and could have survived such a violent period in Earth’s history by thriving in niches deep underground or in the ocean’s crust.”

If you have abandoned intelligent causes in your philosophy of science, what are you left with?  Colliding natural forces as crucibles of creation.  None of these stories show actual creation of order from impacts.  On the contrary, there’s the subtext of hope that if we just bang things together long enough, something interesting might emerge from a fortuitous concourse of atoms.  Because our uniform experience is that collisions are destructive, such hope is blind faith, not science.

Planetary scientists routinely send in the impactors to solve any problem found in our solar system.  Spike Psarris shows this humorously and effectively with quotations and animations in his video we highly recommend, What You Aren’t Being Told About Astronomy: Our Created Solar System.


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