Saturday, October 27, 2012

An Atlas of the Universe

Another Space Theology link The Atlas of the Universe

This web page created by Richard Powell. Last updated: 30 Jul 2006.

"This web page is designed to give everyone an idea of what our universe actually looks like. There are nine main maps on this web page, each one approximately ten times the scale of the previous one. The first map shows the nearest stars and then the other maps slowly expand out until we have reached the scale of the entire visible universe."

Bravo! Very clear and highly educational.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dr Scharf - Astronomy should be compulsory

Dr Caleb Scharf
Astrobiology Columbia University

In BBC Future October 25 2012, Caleb Scharf, the Director of the Astrobiology Center at Columbia University, says: "We should all learn basic astronomy training compulsory"

I say: Amen!

Except that the proposal should be positive, not police-state like "compulsory with annual audit" however small.

What about something like this "Astronomy should be included as a compulsory subject to all elementary school curricula in every country of the world"

and then to go on to produce educational materials about Astronomy that school children all over the world would love to study - regardless of religion or lack of it!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cosmos and spiritual reality

After the shock of Albert Einstein physicists have been considerably less rigid about what is going on in the material world. It sometimes seems that the weirder the theory the more interesting it is to at least some scientists. Newtonian world was so neat and predictable! Today there is uncertainty even about Heisenberg's uncertainty.

Researchers do not find it overly difficult to calculate stranges and tops and colors nor the theory of 11 dimensions or multicosmos.

In contrast, there is great difficulty in dealing with multiple layers of reality and the possibility of different spheres of life itself.

Spiritual reality is beyond mathematics and experimental science and this is taken by some as proof that there is no spiritual reality.

I find this rigid materialism somehow surprising in light of the obvious fact that human beings are spiritual beings and differ in this from all other creatures upon Earth as far as we know. Or have you heard dolphin discussing global warming?

So why such dogmatism about something we have hardly even started to study scientifically and know next to nothing about?

How come you can doubt and thus exist, as Descartes famously noted.

"Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being."
Genesis 2:7 NIV

Monday, October 22, 2012

Where is Heaven?

Dante Paradiso. Canto 31
Image: Tahuti Lodge

Knock, knock knocking at heaven's door

Scientific instrument help us to see deep into the distant space. Humanity has recently captured photons that started their travel through space-time continuum over 13 billion years ago.

But no heavens door, no bands of angels and saints marching in nor the throne of God in any telescopic observations!

According to the Soviet propaganda machinery Jury Gagarin made that unfortunate statement already after the first manned space flight "I did not see God up there".

So where is heaven?

Medieval times
Some say that the view of world in Medieval Europe was relatively simple as geocentric world view ruled, everyone knew that heaven is up, here on earth we toll in our daily work surrounded by a sea that ends in the great unknown and that the fiery hell is down waiting for Devil and godless people. In this three store structure the Christian church was down here on earth showing way to heaven.

But such a sketch of a supposed scientific/religious Medieval world view is a gross oversimplification. For rain fell from clouds in heaven where Sun and Moon and stars moved in physical spheres. But the Church was teaching that heaven was not there but would be reached after death by the grace of God.

Perhaps it was not so clear in people's minds where heaven is, somewhere up there as the hell is somewhere down there but not exactly...

I think not much has changed from those days among believers who ask where heaven and hell are physically located.

Dante's Heaven  
The imagery of heaven and hell and the structure of the cosmos was surely much affected in European minds and hearts by the masterpiece, Divine Comedy written by Dante (1265-1321). However, also here the three-tired structure of things are not depicted as physical reality but as a powerful visionary view of things facing humans after death.
The Divine Comedy describes Dante's journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio), and Paradise (Paradiso), guided first by the Roman poet Virgil and then by Beatrice, the subject of his love and of another of his works, La Vita Nuova.

While the vision of Hell, the Inferno, is vivid for modern readers, the theological niceties presented in the other books require a certain amount of patience and knowledge to appreciate. Purgatorio, the most lyrical and human of the three, also has the most poets in it; Paradiso, the most heavily theological, has the most beautiful and ecstatic mystic passages in which Dante tries to describe what he confesses he is unable to convey (e.g., when Dante looks into the face of God: "all'alta fantasia qui mancò possa"—"at this high moment, ability failed my capacity to describe," Paradiso, XXXIII, 142).

Dante realizes that there are things in which human knowledge based expressions, everyday language, scientific observation so to say, is not sufficient.

So what does the Bible say?

As usual, the matter is far from simple.

Genesis 1
Genesis was written in the Iron Age over 2500 years ago. It tells how God of Israel sets up something called in Hebrew raqi'a and translated in King James Version as firmament - something strong that separates heaven and earth, the waters above and the waters below it and in which God sets Sun, Moon and the stars to give light and to show time and seasons.

Genesis 1 is rather secular natural history and does not talk at all about the heavens where God has His throne.

Also the Garden of Eden is not heaven in Genesis 2-3. Rather, it is a wonderful garden planted by God for Adam to live with his Eve (paradisos, from "garden" in Persian). After breaking God's divine order they walk east of Eden and the road back is blocked by a cherub with a fiery swindling sword in its hand.

Isaiah sees the throne of God in a throne (Is 6). He saw this powerful vision at the time when king Ussia was ruling in Jerusalem. Not a physical visit to a place somewhere up there above the clouds.

In the so-called Trito-Isaiah it is written

Thus saith the Lord, “The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Where is the house that ye build unto Me? And where is the place of My rest?

For all those things hath Mine hand made, and all those things have been,” saith the Lord. “But to this man will I look: even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word."
Isaiah 66:1-2 KJ21

Wonderful night at Bethlehem
The language in the story about the shepherds of Bethlehem in the Gospel of Luke is interesting
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!”
And it came to pass, when the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which has come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”
And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
Luke 2:8-16 KJ21

Saint Paul
In New Testament Letter to the Corinthians St Paul visits Paradise "whether in flesh or not he does not know". Paradise still exists but obviously not in the regular physical realm of humanity where you could take a caravan with enough water and food for the trip to heaven. Also the language spoken there was something else.

Saint Paul speaks of several stores in the structure of heavens.
It is doubtless not expedient for me to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord:
I knew a man in Christ more than fourteen years ago (whether in the body I cannot tell, or whether out of the body I cannot tell — God knoweth). Such a one was caught up to the third Heaven.
And I knew such a man (whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell — God knoweth),
and how he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
Of such a one will I glory, yet of myself I will not glory, except in mine infirmities.
2 Cor 12:1-5 KJ21
Note how Paul is humble even when boasting, not Seventh Heaven but third!

Book of Reveleation
This is a big subject but as the entire book is a great vision we are not in the realm of earthlings observing what's up there in the sky!

So where is Heaven?

Astro sciences - The Great Reversal of View

By adding the prefix "astro" to the common name of some branch of science we indicate that the focus is on space research

astro comes from the Greek word for star astron

Astrobiology - studies life in Solar system and in deep space
Astrochemistry - Chemistry
Astrophysics - Physics

and so on

similarly, we can use Astrotheology for branch of Theology that focuses mainly on the impact of space research on our religious heritage.

The Great Reversal
The rather surprising development in astro sciences is the reversal of roles. "Earthly sciences" familiar to us from the Antiquity are suddenly seen as special cases of events that originate in the Cosmos.

The cosmic scale diminishes the terrestrial observations and experiments and provides a magnificent open world of which the earthly things are specific examples.

Let us take astrochemistry as an example - since mid 20th century scientists have suggested that the elements in the periodic table are actually made in stars. Planet Earth is made of star dust that contains the elements blowing in cosmic winds.

Thus, astrochemistry provides a grandiose supernovaic explanation to how atoms are created by processes of fission and fusion in deep space. They are not just bright flashes of light that might interest a Kepler or two, but actually fundamentally important universal processes making matter as we know it.

In the same way, focus on the search for the origins of life has moved as Astrobiology develops and today scientists are again taking a serious look at the Theory of pansperma suggested by Sir Fred Hoyle  and others.

What reversal in Theology?
As humanity is learning more about the enormousness of Cosmos it is experiencing a collective humbling effect - planet Earth and its inhabitants is not visible very far in the near space and the Sun it rotates is not a crucial player in the Milky Way Galaxy.

With this comes a religious reversal of the role of Jesus Christ, the King of the Kings and the one given power on Heaven and earth. I wrote some texts about Le Petite Prince ruling a rather tiny planet in the vast garden of stars of the Heavenly Father. Also, this reflects in the rational in the confession of Athanasius and the controversy of Arian claim that Father is greater than Son.

And many other things are set into totally new focus, especially the world view - where is heaven and where is hell? as well as the apocalyptic message of the Bible that all is going to come to an end and there will be a change.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

CERN Oct 15 2012 meeting - some personal comments

An image of data recorded at Cern during experiments is search of the Higgs boson (c) Cern
The discovery of a "Higgs-like particle"
preceded this religious and scientific meeting

BBC News article
Victoria Gill from BBC News summarizes the CERN meeting of scientists, theologians and philosophers nicely in her article Big Bang: Is there room for God?

The main conclusion of the event has been simple: keep talking.
"We face a problem in our culture of hyperspecialisation," says Dr Pinsent.
"This ignorance of other fields can cause problems, like a lack of social cohesion.
And although Prof Krauss said the meeting felt at times like "people who can't communicate trying to communicate," even he sees some value in this somewhat esoteric exchange.
"Many people of faith view science as a threat," he said.
"I don't think science is a threat, so it is useful for scientists to show that they don't necessarily view it that way."
As one contributor put it during the meeting: "Religion doesn't add to scientific facts, but it does shape our view of the world."
And since Cern is searching for clues about how that world came to exist in the first place, it wants to see how its discoveries might fit into any world view.
BBC News

My comments
Here are some short comments from a theologian who is interested in space sciences as they are and believes that it is pure science working according to its own ground rules that best glorifies the name of God of Israel by showing the wonders of what He has done.
(The quotes are from the cited BBC News article by Victoria Gill)

1. Not a God of the Swiss cheese
But even the idea of a "time before the Big Bang" is impossible territory for physicists.
It is a zone of pure speculation - before time and space as scientists understand it came to exist, and where the laws of physics completely break down.
So does that make it a realm where science and religion can come to an understanding?
The idea underpinned in this line of thinking is that there is room for God only in the areas that science cannot explain.

The "Swiss cheese holes god" is simply stupid but surprisingly prevalent. As if scientific explanation of the first seconds after Big Bang already replaces the Creator by anonymous Laws of Nature that nobody has set!

However, it is the outrageous claim of the God of Israel Himself that He has created everything that I believe in Creator. Personally I do not believe because of results of some scientific inquiry that supposedly prove there is a divine mind behind all this.

I do not think that Stephen Hawking is qualified to answer the question "is God necessary".

(Mind you that many other believers who present Intelligent Design and who have much higher IQs then I have do claim that studying the works of creation proves that there is a Heavenly Watchmaker).

2. Religious people know already, scientists ask
Alas, this is often true statement is a powerful message to all religious people - sit down and to start to study what scientists have asked and what answers they have found. Learning more about the works of God is not easy, it takes years of study in any field of knowledge and even after that there are many unanswered questions, thank God!

I think Einstein put it nicely when he said "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind".
""The power of science is uncertainty. Everything is uncertain, but science can define that uncertainty.
"That's why science makes progress and religion doesn't."
 Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist and director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University
But the suggestion that science and religion are fundamentally incompatible was a point of contention during the meeting.
3. The mystery of human soul and spirit
John Lennox, professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford, is also a self-declared Christian. He thinks the very fact that human beings can do science is evidence for God.

I would personally never use the expression "evidence for God" as it is rather problematic perhaps even blasphemous. But Professor Lennox points at the mystery of our ability to THINK and then to OBSERVE. In my words, pure mathematical thinking has often preceded scientific discovery - take, for example, the evidence possibly now found for the existence of the Higgs boson that was mentioned as one of the reasons for having this conference.

Thinking before observation! What a divine spirit we humans have been given to understand God's wonders!

For I see Thy heavens, a work of Thy fingers, Moon and stars that Thou didst establish.
What is man that Thou rememberest him? The son of man that Thou inspectest him?
And causest him to lack a little of Godhead, And with honour and majesty compassest him.
Psalm 8:3-5 YLT

4. Depth of language
Prof Heuer said he wanted the participants to "develop a common understanding" of one another's' viewpoints.
But even exchanging ideas was, at times, tricky; scientists and philosophers often speak a very different language.
Andrew Pinsent is research director at the University of Oxford's Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion. He is also a trained physicist who once worked at Cern.
"We have to educate one another in the terms that we use," he says.

The importance of praising God of Israel for His marvelous deeds
According to Saint Paul letter to the Romans our job is to praise Him for the wonders of His works. Let us rejoice in Him while we put the fruits of our research into use for the benefit of humanity and not waist brilliant minds to trying to prove that there is no need for God.

For that line of thinking and disbelief has led humanity from one idolatry to another, from worshiping insects and sun to kneeling in front of the Great Leader of the German People or Father Sun or Mister Mao and other awful monsters.

What is even worse, according to Saint Paul, not worshiping God and praising Him for the wisdom and glory of creation is met by rejection of humans by God.

What kind of rejection is that, who cares!

Well, we should care, because God rejects those who reject Him and worship idols by stopping the work to save them from sin. No more divine will how to live as He wants, no more divine call to repent from our evil ways, no more gospel that He forgives.

Abandoned to living freely as humans without God! The worst fate there is.

So let us praise Him and listen to His Word and do good science!

Praising the Lord, knowledge and ethics
This is what Saint Paul wrote about 2000 years ago to the early Christians living in the center of civilization of Rome.

Rough stuff.

For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believeth, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith; as it is written: “The just shall live by faith.”

[The crime - worship of idols]
For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness, because that which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God hath shown it unto them.

For from the creation of the world the invisible things of Him are clearly seen, being understood through the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.

For when they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God, nor were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man, and to birds and fourfooted beasts and creeping things.

[The punishment - given up to "freedom"]
Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies among themselves. They changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature.

And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men, working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense for their error which was meet.

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind to do those things which are not fitting, being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity. They are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, spiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affections, implacable, unmerciful.

And knowing the judgment of God, that those who commit such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but have pleasure in those who do them.
Romans 1:16-32 KJ21

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

ALMA - First published picture Oct. 3 2011

ALMA First published picture
Image of the day October 3 2011

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.

They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.

Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
Psalm 19:1-4 NIV

Instrumental importance of ALMA

Humanity has LEARNED to know the physical environment in which it exists mainly through OBSERVATION.

Human senses, eyes, ears, nose, taste, touch, weight are spectacular but they are made for the immediate environment surrounding us. Senses are limited in order not to overwhelm us but to provide vital information about that crouching tiger nearby or the warning sound of a rattlesnake - not to speak of the skin burning heat from the gas stove.

Galileo Galilei
Galilei's telescope
Made by Hans Lippershey 1608
Only rather recently those crafty Dutchmen figured out that joining pieces of glasses - such as used on eyeglasses invented before - as a set on line in a tube it is possibly to magnify small items (microscope) or see distant objects (telescope).

Modern science is often considered to have began with the OBSERVATIONS through the looking glass made for Galileo Galilei.

Common binoculars beat the power of Galilei's instrument but few users of modern binoculars have his UNDERSTANDING of what they see through them.

Hooker. Mt Wilson APOD

Better INSTRUMENTS gave better view of things near and far, small and big.

Edwin Hubble's OBSERVATIONS through the venerable 100 inch Hooker on Mt. Wilson changed humanity's perception of the Universe.

What had seemed like dusty clouds in the Universe consisting of Milky Way and about 100.000 ly in diameter got specific - often spiral - shape when seen on photographs taken through the Hooker.

It is not just the INSTRUMENT but also the human person who uses it and UNDERSTANDS what he or she sees.

Edwin Hubble noted that there is a shift towards red in the color photographs and understood this on the basis of the work of Mr Doppler.

Hubble Space Telescope

HST wikimedia

When the telescope is lifted on orbit above the atmosphere WYSIWYG gets better.

There is no need to explain in detail how revolutionary the things seen through the appropriately named Hubble INSTRUMENT has been to the entire humanity.

James Weber Space Telescope is going to improve manifold on the performance of such an INSTRUMENT.

The sixty six antennas working in sync high up on the Chajnantor plateau in northern Chile are not so much "looking" as they are "listening" to radio waves.

Radio-astronomy has received in this complex INSTRUMENT possibility to expand the knowledge humanity has about the physical environment in which it exists on stellar and galactic level.

ALMA is just a tool.

Men and women will be needed for humans to UNDERSTAND the information this multi-national billion dollar INSTRUMENT will provide.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Astrochemistry at ALMA

"The Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array (ALMA) is an array of radio telescopes in the Atacama desert of northern Chile. Since a high and dry site is crucial to millimeter wavelength operations, the array is being constructed on the Chajnantor plateau at 5000 metres altitude. Consisting of 66 12-meter and 7-meter diameter radio telescopes observing at millimeter and sub-millimeter wavelengths, ALMA is expected to provide insight on star birth during the early universe and detailed imaging of local star and planet formation.

ALMA is an international partnership between Europe, the United States, Canada, East Asia and the Republic of Chile.

Costing more than a billion US dollars, it is the most expensive ground-based telescope currently under construction. ALMA began scientific observations in the second half of 2011 and the first images were released to the press on 3 October 2011. The project is scheduled to be fully operational by the end of 2012."
Acatama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array ALMA home.

Astrochemistry Enters a New Bold Era with ALMA
"Combining the cutting-edge capabilities of the ALMA telescope with newly-developed laboratory techniques, scientists are opening a completely new era for deciphering the chemistry of the Universe. A research team demonstrated their breakthrough using ALMA data from observations of the gas in a star-forming region in the constellation Orion.

Using new technology both at the telescope and in the laboratory, the scientists were able to greatly improve and speed the process of identifying the "fingerprints" of chemicals in the cosmos, enabling studies that until now would have been either impossible or prohibitively time-consuming.

“We've shown that, with ALMA, we're going to be able to do real chemical analysis of the gaseous 'nurseries' where new stars and planets are forming, unrestricted by many of the limitations we've had in the past,” said Anthony Remijan of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, VA."
ALMA Press release September 20 2012 

How ALMA works?
Two antennas linked together as interferometer
"In theory, the basic notion of interferometry is quite simple.

A signal from the sky is captured by two or more antennas which are combined in order to analyze the signal and thus obtain information about its source (whether a star, a planet, or a galaxy). By combining the radio waves collected by several antennas, it is possible [to create] images...

Nevertheless, this is not so simple in practice.

To operate properly, ALMA

  • must have its 66 antennas and electronics working in perfect synchrony, with a precision of one millionth of a millionth of a second. 
  • the signals from the different antennas must be combined in a way that the path followed from each antenna until it is combined at the central computer (the correlator) must be known with an accuracy equal to the diameter of a human hair (hundredths of a millimeter). 
  • there is the problem of reducing the possible attenuation and perturbation suffered by the signal from the time it touches each antenna until it is digitalized and transmitted over several kilometers of optic fiber to the central computer. 
  • Even earlier, as soon as the signal penetrates the Earth’s atmosphere, it is partially absorbed, deviated and delayed by molecules of CO2, Oxygen and water (even at 5,000 m of altitude and in the dry conditions encountered at the Atacama Desert). 
Seven weather stations, and specially-built Water Vapor Radiometers to measure the amount of line-of-sight water vapor present in the atmosphere, will be used to correct for these atmospheric effects."
Read the entire article by Antonia Hales

ALMAnize your Google Earth

Download this file to personalize your Google Earth and easily place ALMA on the globe.

Once you open it, the ALMA facilities and the current position of the antennas will appear to you as marked.

A cool way to include the observatory that brings you closer to the Universe on your virtual journey !

CERN, Science, Philosophy and Theology

Big Bang and religion mixed in CERN debate
Victoria Gill BBC News October 15 2012
Dr Wilton, though, said he was hopeful that "scientists, theologians and philosophers alike might gain fresh insights from each other's disciplines".

"This is such an exciting conference," he told the BBC.

"It is the first time Cern has invited theologians and philosophers to debate with them.

"But by the end... we might find new ways of understanding our own positions.

"We might even find new ways of talking to each other about the beginning of the world."

The conference is being organised by Wilton Park, an agency of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Another Space Theology bookmark BBC News

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sodium and plants

In general plants wither if there is too much salt in the soil. But some plants do have uses for sodium.
In C4 plants, sodium is a micro nutrient that aids in metabolism, specifically in regeneration of phosphoenolpyruvate and synthesis of chlorophyll. [C4 carbon fixation is one of three biochemical mechanisms, along with C3 and CAM photosynthesis, used in carbon fixation. It is named for the 4-carbon molecule present in the first product of carbon fixation in the small subset of plants known as C4 plants, in contrast to the 3-carbon molecule products in C3 plants.]

In others, it substitutes for potassium in several roles, such as maintaining turgor pressure and aiding in the opening and closing of stomata.

Excess sodium in the soil limits the uptake of water due to decreased water potential, which may result in wilting; similar concentrations in the cytoplasm can lead to enzyme inhibition, which in turn causes necrosis and chlorosis.

To avoid these problems, plants developed mechanisms that limit sodium uptake by roots, store them in cell vacuoles, and control them over long distances; excess sodium may also be stored in old plant tissue, limiting the damage to new growth.
As a theologian I strongly object to the wording in the green paragraph of an expert article on sodium - the writer uses active mode suggesting thereby that plants developed by themselves strategies for a given purpose.

The writer of the sentences probably does not think that plants are highly intelligent beings and figured out solutions (or solvents) to the problem caused by excessive sodium in the environment! Rather, there is probably some kind of theory of evolution of plants in the writer's mind and some mechanism where the blind force of survival of the fittest is the genius we see at work in nature.

In this blog I only point at interesting things as a tour guide to the Gardens of God. I hope to inspire you - and me - to read much more about sodium that is made in massive stars in the Space and which is so important to living things, animals and plants, upon Earth.

The Internet and traditional libraries have an overwhelming amount of information about what humanity has learned about the element Latins called natrium.

Sodium and human body

Sodium Na is an amazing element that keeps modern scientists busy in universities, medical research institutes. It gives both head-aches and hope to doctors working in hospitals.

In humans
sodium is an essential nutrient that regulates

  • blood volume 
  • blood pressure 
  • osmotic equilibrium 
  • pH 

The minimum physiological requirement for sodium is 500 mg per day.

Sodium chloride is the principal source of sodium in the diet, and is used as seasoning and preservative, such as for pickling and jerky; most of it comes from processed foods.

The DRI for sodium is 2.3 grams per day, but on average people in the United States consume 3.4 grams per day, the minimum amount that promotes hypertension; this in turn causes 7.6 million premature deaths worldwide.

The renin-angiotensin system regulates the amount of fluids and sodium in the body.

Reduction of blood pressure and sodium concentration in the kidney result in the production of renin, which in turn produces aldosterone and angiotensin, retaining sodium in the urine. Because of the increase in sodium concentration, the production of renin decreases, and the sodium concentration returns to normal.

Sodium is also important in neuron function and osmoregulation between cells and the extracellular fluid, their distribution mediated in all animals by Na+/K+-ATPase; hence, sodium is the most prominent cation in extracellular fluid.

Sodium (natrium) - not just salt

Structure of sodium chloride,
"showing octahedral coordination around Na+ and Cl- centres.
This framework disintegrates upon dissolution in water
and reassembles upon evaporation"
"Sodium is a chemical element with the symbol Na (from Latin: natrium) in the periodic table and atomic number 11.

It is a soft, silvery-white, highly reactive metal and is a member of the alkali metals. 20 isotopes are known but only 23Na is stable.

Many sodium compounds are useful for humans, such as sodium hydroxide (lye) for soap making, and sodium chloride for use as a deicing agent and a nutrient (edible salt).

Salt as salary and Medieval aspirin
Salt has been an important commodity in human activities, as shown by the English word salary, which derives from salarium, the wafers of salt sometimes given to Roman soldiers along with their other wages.

In medieval Europe, a compound of sodium with the Latin name of sodanum was used as a headache remedy. The name sodium is thought to originate from the Arabic suda, meaning headache, as the headache-alleviating properties of sodium carbonate or soda were well known in early times

Sodium is created in stars
23Na is created in the carbon-burning process by fusing two carbon atoms together; this requires temperatures above 600 megakelvins and a star with at least three solar masses.

When sodium or its compounds are introduced into a flame, they turn it yellow, because the excited 3s electrons of sodium emit a photon when they fall from 3p to 3s; the wavelength of this photon corresponds to the D line at 589.3 nm. Spin-orbit interactions involving the electron in the 3p orbital split the D line into two; hyperfine structures involving both orbitals cause many more lines.

In the interstellar medium, sodium is identified by the D line; though it has a high vaporization temperature, its abundance allowed it to be detected by Mariner 10 in Mercury's atmosphere.

Oceans are salty
Many salts of sodium are highly water-soluble, and their sodium has been leached by the action of water so that chloride and sodium are the most common dissolved elements by weight in the Earth's bodies of oceanic water.

Sodium in the crust of planet Earth
Sodium is the sixth most abundant element in the Earth's crust , and exists in numerous minerals such as feldspars, sodalite and rock salt.

Because of its high reactivity the free metal does not occur in nature, but instead must be prepared from its compounds; it was first isolated by Humphry Davy in 1807 by the electrolysis of sodium hydroxide.

Sodium and living beings

Sodium is an essential element for all animals and some plants.

In animals, sodium ions are used against potassium ions to build up charges on cell membranes, allowing transmission of nerve impulses when the charge is dissipated.

The consequent need of animals for sodium causes it to be classified as a dietary inorganic macro-mineral."

[Selections copied from the article are rearranged by me]
Read the entire article from wikipedia

Nitrogen and our hearts

Heart beat
Heart Valve Surgery
Nitroglycerin is used medically as a vasodilator to treat heart conditions, such as angina and chronic heart failure.

Nitroglycerin has been one of the oldest and most useful drugs for treating and preventing attacks of angina pectoris.

After more than 130 years of such use, in 2002 it was discovered that these effects arise because nitroglycerin is converted to nitric oxide in the body by mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase, and nitric oxide is a natural vasodilator in the body.

Nitroglycerin comes in forms of tablets, sprays or patches.

It has been suggested for other uses also, such as an adjunct therapy in prostate cancer. wikipedia

I just cannot stop wondering, how God of Israel can make such amazing substances as hydrogen, helium, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, tungsten or uranium just by adding a proton or two (plus some other particles) to the nucleus of an atom in the galactic fission and fusion factories far out up there. And how potent and fundamentally so different ways these elements with boring atomic numbers 1, 2, 4, 8, 64, 99 elements are for us humans living on planet Earth.

And we humans have been given the brains to use nitrogen to blow into pieces a group of enemy soldiers or to help a person experiencing life threatening heart attack!

Nitrogen - Dynamite Nobel

Alfred Nobel (1833-1896)
We humans inhabiting planet Earth so rich in nitrogen want explosives for every day jobs like mining or road building. We also want powerful propellants as well as strong explosives for military use for attacking others or defending ourselves. In today's world some people with political or even religious background want explosives to make a point or two.

Elementary nitrogen is a plentiful element in nature that has powerful chemical bonding. This makes it ideal for releasing plenty of energy when release by different means - even by slow bacterial activity (composts are warm). A quick release of the energy in nitrogen bonding and you get a propellant or explosive.

This characteristic of nitrates explains the strange obsession of some people to buy plenty of common fertilizers even the person may not have any fields for farming.

However, the nitrogen bond is very strong and it took quite and then plenty of human genius before  humanity succeeded in releasing that hidden energy.

Swedish scientist Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) had over 300 patents. Dynamite was by far the most profitable of these and made his fortune and established the financial success and fame of companies such as the historical Swedish iron factory Bofors,German Dynamit Nobel AG and Dutch multinational Akzo Nobel N.V.

All humanity benefits from the Nobel Prize established by the wealthy inventor who had discovered an practical and safe way to release the power of elementary nitrogen N2 originally made in the very big bangs of supernovas.

The key to his industrially significant invention is nitroglycerin which is an organic nitrate compound. Italian chemist Ascanio Sobrero had first synthesized it in 1847 in the University of Torino and made black powder of it and seriously warned about how dangerous liquid it is.

An anonymous Wikipedia article tells us [read entire article]
Nobel found that when nitroglycerin was incorporated in an absorbent inert substance like kieselguhr (diatomaceous earth) it became safer and more convenient to handle, and this mixture he patented in 1867 as 'dynamite'. Nobel demonstrated his explosive for the first time that year, at a quarry in Redhill, Surrey, England.

In order to help reestablish his name and improve the image of his business from the earlier controversies associated with the dangerous explosives, Nobel had also considered naming the highly powerful substance "Nobel's Safety Powder", but settled with Dynamite instead, referring to the Greek word for 'power'.

Nobel later on combined nitroglycerin with various nitrocellulose compounds, similar to collodion, but settled on a more efficient recipe combining another nitrate explosive, and obtained a transparent, jelly-like substance, which was a more powerful explosive than dynamite.

'Gelignite', or blasting gelatin, as it was named, was patented in 1876; and was followed by a host of similar combinations, modified by the addition of potassium nitrate and various other substances.

Gelignite was more stable, transportable and conveniently formed to fit into bored holes, like those used in drilling and mining, than the previously used compounds and was adopted as the standard technology for mining in the Age of Engineering bringing Nobel a great amount of financial success, though at a significant cost to his health.

An off-shoot of this research resulted in Nobel's invention of ballistite, the precursor of many modern smokeless powder explosives and still used as a rocket propellant.

Nitrogen in action
The stuff was badly needed when humanity got involved in the two so-far most destructive wars.
Large quantities of nitroglycerin were manufactured during World War I and World War II for use as military propellants and in military engineering work.

During World War I, HM Factory, Gretna, the largest propellant factory in the Great Britain, produced about 800 long tons (812 tonnes) of Cordite RDB per week. This amount took at least 336 tons of nitroglycerin per week (assuming no losses in production).

The Royal Navy had its own factory at Royal Navy Cordite Factory, Holton Heath in Dorset, England. A large cordite factory was also built in Canada during World War I.

The Canadian Explosives Limited cordite factory at Nobel, Ontario, was designed to produce 1,500,000 lb (680 t) of cordite per month. This required about 286 tonnes of nitroglycerin per month.

Good business, eh... ?

Nitrogen cycle

"The nitrogen cycle is the process by which nitrogen is converted between its various chemical forms. This transformation can be carried out through both biological and physical processes. Important processes in the nitrogen cycle include

  • fixation
  • mineralization
  • nitrification
  • denitrification.

The majority of Earth's atmosphere (approximately 78%) is nitrogen, making it the largest pool of nitrogen. However, atmospheric nitrogen has limited availability for biological use, leading to a scarcity of usable nitrogen in many types of ecosystems.

The nitrogen cycle is of particular interest to ecologists because nitrogen availability can affect the rate of key ecosystem processes, including primary production and decomposition.

Pollution Human activities such as fossil fuel combustion, use of artificial nitrogen fertilizers, and release of nitrogen in wastewater have dramatically altered the global nitrogen cycle.

Geology A 2011 study found that nitrogen from rocks may also be a significant source of nitrogen, that had not previously been included."

Those supernovas up there churn out really useful stuff for us humans and all living things upon Earth, don't you agree?

Nitrogen and life

DNA, RNA and Protein
Exploring life's origins

Elementary nitrogen N2 has extremely strong atomic bonding that living things have great difficulty in breaking it into something useful. So what does the plentiful nitrogen in atmosphere mean to organic life?

As far as I know, it has no role  in breathing of animals or in the photosynthesis of plants. Or has it?

Well, a little study shows that nitrogen is of crucial importance to all life as we know it because it is a significant part in the compound we call amino acid and it is essential to organisms also for other reasons.

Wikipedia informs us [read the entire article]
  • Nitrogen occurs in all living organisms, primarily in amino acids and thus proteins and in the nucleic acids (DNA and RNA). 
  • The human body contains about 3% by weight of nitrogen, the fourth most abundant element after oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen. 
  • Nitrogen resides in the chemical structure of almost all neurotransmitters, and is a defining component of alkaloids, biological molecules produced as secondary metabolites by many organisms. 

Crucial for any life on Earth 
Nitrogen is a component in all amino acids, as incorporated into proteins, and is present in the bases that make up nucleic acids, such as DNA and RNA.

In plants, much of the nitrogen is used in chlorophyll molecules, which are essential for photosynthesis and further growth.

Although Earth’s atmosphere is an abundant source of nitrogen, most is relatively unusable by plants. Chemical processing, or natural fixation (through processes such as bacterial conversion — see rhizome), are necessary to convert gaseous nitrogen into forms usable by living organisms, which makes nitrogen a crucial component of food production.

The abundance or scarcity of this "fixed" form of nitrogen, (also known as reactive nitrogen), dictates how much food can be grown on a piece of land.

Nitrogen made in stars

Nitrogen. Refined Bohr model
Jefferson Lab Science Education

Carbon, ready for thousands of combinations! Oxygen, air and fire and so many other good things!

But who needs nitrogen?

Quote from Wikipedia (read the entire article)
Nitrogen is a chemical element with symbol N and atomic number 7.

Elemental nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and mostly inert diatomic gas at standard conditions, constituting 78.09% by volume of Earth's atmosphere.

The element nitrogen was discovered as a separable component of air, by Scottish physician Daniel Rutherford, in 1772. [Rutherford was the uncle of the novelist Sir Walter Scott, but not related to the atomic theorist Ernest Rutherford.]

Nitrogen is a common element in the universe, estimated at about seventh in total abundance in our galaxy and the Solar System.

Its occurrence there is thought to be entirely due to synthesis by fusion from carbon and hydrogen in supernovas.

Due to the volatility of elemental nitrogen and its common compounds with hydrogen and oxygen, nitrogen is far less common on the rocky planets of the inner Solar System, and it is a relatively rare element on Earth as a whole.

However, as is the case on Earth, nitrogen and its compounds occur commonly as gases in the atmospheres of planets and moons that have atmospheres.

Amazing! Hubble ST XDF

Hubble Extreme Deep Field Image
Early Universe
NASA APOD October 14 2012
Another Space Theology bookmark - the amazing Hubble Space Telescope XDF 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

End of the world and cosmology

Because Earth has lost its central position in the world view and even the Milky Way galaxy is only one among millions there is difficulty in combining Biblical geocentric end of the world visions with modern cosmology.

Fiery end of the world scenarios therefore concentrate on Earth only rather than the deep space although New Testament talks about stars falling from the sky (geocentric world).

On the other hand, modern science is calculating end of the world scenarios for the entire Universe such as the burning out of Sun or other ways life ends on Earth.

The time scales in modern scientific theories are somewhat larger then the Biblical message that end is near!

And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come.
Jesus Christ
Matthew 24:14 KJ21

Fire and the Bible, sacrifices and Gehenna

There are some excellent and thought provoking points on fire worship from an anonymous writer in wikipedia pointing also at the connection between the God of Israel and His people through burnt offerings, holocaust.

Semitic religions
Fire is an element of theophany in the Hebrew Bible's burning bush, pillar of fire, and the Eternal flame of the Menorah.

The highest form of sacrifice is the Korban Olah, performed twice-daily, which is an animal sacrifice completely consumed by fire.

In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is manifested as "tongues of flame".

The Qarmatians, a branch of Ismailism (in turn a branch of Shia Islam) claimed to have found the Mahdi in the 10th century and appointed him caliph, but later deposed him because of an ensuing power struggle. Among his so-called heretical beliefs were fire worship and book burning of religious texts.

Holy fire in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem has been consecutively documented since 1106 A.D. It is considered by many to be the longest-attested annual miracle in the Christian world.

End of the world fires
Bible contains references to significant cosmological fires that in New Testament letters have the meaning of ultimate destruction of this world before the creation of a new world of justice.

The Book of Revelations has an eternal lake of fire as the ultimate punishment of the Evil.

Mostly in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus says that in the coming life some people will be thrown out into Gehenna. There was a Gehenna in Herodian period Jerusalem, a burning place for garbage in the deep valley on the southern side of Jerusalem, Gae Bne Hinnom, the Valley of the sons of Hinnom, from which the Greek word Gehenna.

It has been told that Gehenna was a detested place because of the bad smell from rotten garbage, fires and smoke and also the fact that criminal's bodies were thrown there after execution covered only by lime.

The Gehenna in the language of Jesus is thus not a very cosmic place in the structure of the Universe but the word has a rather local Jerusalem based meaning from which it may have, of course, expanded to include spiritual realities.

During the First Crusade it was said that it took some six months to burn the bodies in the Valley of Gehenna of the victims from the slaughter of conquered Jerusalem in 1099 AD.

Fire and religion

Fire is such an awesome and ancient thing for humanity that it has left a deep impact also on religious belief systems. There are fires upon Earth and there are fires up there in the Sky.

In pre-scientific world views fire is a fundamental element of everything as an independent entity. In mythology gods are busy using fire and also teaching culture to humans.

Ancient Greeks had fire in their scientific view of five elements Earth, Water, Air, Fire, Aether.  They may have learned it from the Babylonians, as the epic Enuma Elish has five personalized divinities, Sea, Earth, Sky, Fire and Wind. Greek god Helios, sun, is driving fiery wagons and storm gods throw fiery flashing as their arrows on earth.

Fire is an essential element in Zoroastrianism and ancient Iranians had Fire Temples.
The existence of the five elements can also be found in India, predating their use in Greece. The pancha mahabhuta, or "five great elements", of Hinduism are

  1. kshiti or bhūmi (earth)
  2. ap or jala (water)
  3. tejas or agni (fire)
  4. marut or pavan (air or wind)
  5. vyom; or shunya or akash (aether or void)

Hindus believe that all of creation, including the human body, is made up of these five essential elements and that upon death, the human body dissolves into these five elements of nature, thereby balancing the cycle of nature.
see more in wikipedia

Fire worship (pyrolatria) and various Fire gods are an essential element in the past and present of human species.

This tells about the mysterious and awesome nature of flames and fire, so attractive also to pyromans of all sorts.

It is interesting that when Tolosani criticized Nikolaus Copernicus one of his arguments was that with his erroneous heliocentric world view Copernicus tries to bring back the old Greek concept that "fire is the center of Universe".

Modern times
Fire continues to be a part of many human religions and cultures. For example, it is used in cremation and bonfires; candles are used in various religious ceremonies; eternal flames are used to remind of notable occasions; and the Olympic Flame burns for the duration of the games.

Oxygen and fire

In our common parlance fire burns producing light and heat.

This is what Sun does - it produces light and heat. It took humanity quite a while to learn to know the special kind of burning taking place inside Sun and other stars that produces such tremendous heat and brilliant light. The main development in stellar astrophysics took place quite recently in the 20th century AD and the science required some truly brilliant minds to develop. Thanks to these efforts we know today that Sun burns hydrogen in nuclear reactions and that there are also other significant types of nuclear burning going on in the stars and deep sky.

Oxygen in the heart of earthly fire
The fires we meet in everyday life here upon Earth under the heavenly oxygen mask. Learning not only how to use fire but also how to make fire must have been one of the greatest scientific inventions of early humanity. No other living species upon Tellus know to light fire without having fire at hand in the first place. The invention making pop-corn eating possible took place already in the Palaeolithic or Old Stone Age. Archaeologists are looking for hard evidence of man made fires already in Acheulean habitations but finding it is not an easy job.
Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products.Slower oxidative processes like rusting or digestion are not included by this definition.

The flame is the visible portion of the fire. If hot enough, the gases may become ionized to produce plasma. Depending on the substances alight, and any impurities outside, the color of the flame and the fire's intensity will be different.

The fire tetrahedron wikimedia
The scientific term is combustion from Latin combustionem (nom. combustio), a burning.
The fire tetrahedron: fires start when
  1. a flammable and/or a combustible material 
  2. in combination with a sufficient quantity of an oxidizer such as oxygen gas or another oxygen-rich compound (though non-oxygen oxidizers exist that can replace oxygen) 
  3. is exposed to a source of heat or ambient temperature above the flash point for the fuel/oxidizer mix
  4. and is able to sustain a rate of rapid oxidation that produces a chain reaction
Fire cannot exist without all of these elements in place and in the right proportions.

Combustion, the chemistry of oxidation, is very complex even fire appears to be such a familiar thing to us humans.

Monday, October 8, 2012

George O. Abell - Astronomer, Educator, Sceptic

G.O. Abell teaching a class in summer 1976
Photo Summer Science Program

Like Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking also the American astronomer George O. Abell was inspired by scientific Astronomy and Cosmology to seriously consider matters of faith and religion.

The Space Theology of these three eminent scholars and ardent educators of the general public is strongly coloured by fundamental lack of faith in claims on paranormal phenomena. Each one of the three has made an effort to educate the public about the importance of critical rational inquiry and unflinching search for truth.

The following text is copied and rearranged for your convenience into a single text from wikipedia and other sources. The cited original articles contain much more information about the subjects so refer to them, as well.

Tour guide
George Ogden Abell (1927 – 1983) was an astronomer at UCLA. He worked as a research astronomer, teacher, administrator, popularizer of science and education, and skeptic. Abell received his B.S. (1951), M.S. (1952) and Ph.D. (1957) from the California Institute of Technology.

Abell began his astronomical career as a tour guide at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.

Planetary nebula Abell 39

The Abell Catalogue
Abell's best known work was his catalogue of clusters of galaxies collected during the Palomar Sky Survey. In it he
  • analyzed galaxy cluster formation and evolution
  • demonstrated that second-order clustering existed, disproving the hierarchical model of Carl Charlier
  • discovered how cluster luminosity could be used as a distance scale
  • collated a famous list of 86 planetary nebulae in 1966 which includes Abell 39 
The original catalogue of clusters in the northern hemisphere was published in 1958. The extended catalogue, including clusters in the southern hemisphere, was published posthumously in 1989 in collaboration with Harold G. Corwin and Ronald P. Olowin.

The "Abell Clusters" of galaxies he discovered are the largest known structures in the universe.

Abell was passionate about educating young people, serving for over twenty years as a faculty member at the Summer Science Program for high school students.

He was chairman of the UCLA Astronomy Department from 1968 to 1975 and chairman of the American Astronomical Society Education Committee. At the time of his death, he was to have become editor of the Astronomical Journal effective January 1, 1984.

Abell was also passionate about debunking pseudoscientific claims such as those by Immanuel Velikovsky. He was a co-founder of the Committee on Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) and contributed articles to their journal, The Skeptical Inquirer.
The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), formerly known as the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), is a program within the U.S. non-profit organization Center for Inquiry (CFI), whose stated purpose is to "encourage the critical investigation of paranormal and fringe-science claims from a responsible, scientific point of view and disseminate factual information about the results of such inquiries to the scientific community and the public."

CSI was founded in 1976 by Paul Kurtz to counter what he regarded as an uncritical acceptance of, and support for, paranormal claims by both the media and society in general. Its philosophical position is one of scientific skepticism. CSI's fellows have included many notable scientists, Nobel laureates, philosophers, educators, authors, and celebrities. It is headquartered in Amherst, New York.

CSI has been accused of pseudoskepticism and an overly dogmatic and arrogant approach based on a priori convictions. It has been suggested that their aggressive style of skepticism could discourage scientific research into the paranormal.

International respect!
Asteroid 3449 Abell is a main belt asteroid discovered on November 7, 1978 by Helin, E. F. and Bus, S. J. at Palomar. It is named in his honor, as he taught for many years at the Summer Science Program, which teaches astronomy to high school students using an asteroid observation program (wikipedia).

The George Abell Observatory at the Open University in Milton Keynes, England, houses a Meade GX200 16-inch telescope used to train postgraduate students in observing techniques.

Abell served as president of the Cosmology Commission of the International Astronomical Union and as president and member of the board of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

George O. Abell was elected a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1970.

Read the entire article on which this post is based from wikipedia

As for me
As a man of religion (protestant priest) I am far more interested in Abell galaxy clusters then in some fringe paranormal phenomena like those G.O. Abell was hunting down. The amazing works of God of Israel, the only real God there is, revealed by modern science are so much more fabulous then some ghostly whispers in the night or some shiny UFO appearing in a distant corner over the skies of Texas.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Trapezium

APOD image October 6, 2012
This is the finest and most dramatic image I have ever seen of the Trapezium at the heart of Orion (click here to see the original APOD image in all its glory).

The mosaic image data is taken from Hubble Space Telescope Legacy Archive. The data was processed by astrophotographer Robert Gendler.

Gendler's website contains impressive photo galleries and also technical articles how to use Adobe Photoshop to create such stunning photos from astronomical images.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Is there oxygen in the space?

Fighter pilot Liu Yang. China's first taikonaut in space
Taikonaut news
One of the first things that comes to our mind from the words astronaut, cosmonaut and taikonaut is the sophisticated spacesuit that protects them and provides them with oxygen and other fundamental necessities for survival. Without those impressive helmets and air supplies they would die immediately when leaving the safety of the spacecraft since there is nothing to breath out there.

We can breath!
Astronaut's spacesuite reminds us that it is actually the same way down here upon the surface of Earth.

Without the rather invisible oxygen mask of atmosphere containing 20% O2 there would no be life as we know it on this planet. (Go look at Mars, for example; it does have a carbon-dioxide CO2 atmosphere but this does not sustain life. Curiosity rover has confirmed with spectacular images of ancient conglomerates that there once may have been water streams and life in the past of the Red Planet.)

Usually we breath without paying much attention to respiration.  But no air, and the situation gets immediately our attention!

God of Israel, who is the only real God there is, went to special arrangements in order to provide oxygen to His living creatures by letting cyanoabacteria generate a heavenly oxygen mask. It all apparently started with the first life forms known to paleobiology - the cyanobacteria - that first appear some three billion years ago and immediately went into the all-important business of doing photosynthesis.

Plenty of oxygen down here
Oxygen is the most abundant element by mass in the Earth's crust, making up almost half of the crust's mass. There is oxygen in the water H2O and there is oxygen in the atmosphere O2 and we are protected from cosmic rays by the fragile ozone layer O3 and oxygen is the most abundant element in our human bodies, as well.

So where is the catch?

Free oxygen is too chemically reactive to appear on Earth without the photosynthetic action of living organisms, which use the energy of sunlight to produce elemental oxygen from water. Elemental O2 only began to accumulate in the atmosphere after the evolutionary appearance of these organisms, roughly 2.5 billion years ago.

The genious of our Creator can be seen so clearly in His works providing breathable air for inhaling and plants to convert the exhaled carbon dioxide back to oxygen through the engine of photosynthesis that runs on energy from the Sun. True recycling!

How spacesuits work?


But is there oxygen in the space?

The possibly surprising answer is that "Yes, there is an enormous amount of oxygen in the space!"

In fact, by mass oxygen is the third-most abundant element in the entire universe, after hydrogen and helium. (wikipedia)

Stellar origins of oxygen
Naturally occurring oxygen is composed of three stable isotopes, 16O, 17O, and 18O, with 16O being the most abundant (99.762% natural abundance).
  • Most 16O is synthesized at the end of the helium fusion process in massive stars but some is made in the neon burning process.
  • 17O is primarily made by the burning of hydrogen into helium during the CNO cycle, making it a common isotope in the hydrogen burning zones of stars.
  • Most 18O is produced when 14N (made abundant from CNO burning) captures a 4He nucleus, making 18O common in the helium-rich zones of evolved, massive stars.