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BBC describes our solar system as “weird”

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The multitude of planetary systems seems to be yet another fact of our cosmic inconsequence, in which our corner of the universe is just like any other. But while planetary systems abound, astronomers are finding that in some respects, the solar system stands out.

“It’s increasingly seeming that the solar system is something of an oddball,” says Gregory Laughlin, a planetary scientist at the University of California, Santa Cruz in the US.

It’s still too soon to know for sure how odd the solar system is (odd like your quirky uncle, or odd like a leprechaun riding a unicorn?), but scientists are already trying to explain why it might be so. If it turns out to be a cosmological anomaly, then so might be Earth – and life. Maybe, we really are special.

Hey, wait a minute. The space aliens never showed up and suddenly we are now realizing … what?

So Brits pay taxes for government TV (BBC) that is just a mouthpiece for new atheism*.

It turns out there is no point at which a reckoning is called for.

*Canadians do that too (CBC). But more and more people are recognizing it as a problem.

See also:

Big Bang exterminator wanted, will train


Copernicus, you are not going to believe who is using your name. Or how.

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10 Replies to “BBC describes our solar system as “weird”

  1. 1
    Bob O'H says:

    I thought the idea that our solar system was special was a part of the privileged planet hypothesis. So is Guillermo Gonzales also a “mouthpiece for atheism”? Will he be appearing on Songs of Praise one day?

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Interesting article.

    “Every indication right now looks like we might be rare,” Walsh says.,,,
    “There’s zero evidence that Earth-like environments are common,” Laughlin says. “There’s zero evidence that life is common.”

    Yet towards the end of the article, the old ‘but there are so many planets out there’ atheistic refrain pops up:

    “I would be very surprised if the solar system were really strange,” says Jack Lissauer, a planetary scientist at NASA Ames Research Center in California, US. “There are so many stars out there. Even if it’s only one percent, it’s still not really rare.”,,,
    But for some, the huge numbers raise hopes of an Earth twin. “I think there are planets like that,” Lissauer says. “There are planets on which life, if it were able to start, could flourish.”

    Please note that they were only trying to account for Jupiter’s orbit in the article and how that might account for our ‘weird’ solar system.
    And although Jupiter’s orbit is certainly a necessary condition for life on earth, it is far from a sufficient condition. Besides Jupiter’s orbit, there are many other conditions that have to be accounted for in order for a solar system to have a ‘privileged planet’.

    Thank God for Jupiter – July 2010
    Excerpt: The July 16, 1994 and July 19, 2009 collision events on Jupiter demonstrate just how crucial a role the planet plays in protecting life on Earth. Without Jupiter’s gravitational shield our planet would be pummeled by frequent life-exterminating events. Yet Jupiter by itself is not an adequate shield. The best protection is achieved via a specific arrangement of several gas giant planets. The most massive gas giant must be nearest to the life support planet and the second most massive gas giant the next nearest, followed by smaller, more distant gas giants. Together Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune provide Earth with this ideal shield.

    Of Gaps, Fine-Tuning and Newton’s Solar System – Cornelius Hunter – July 2011
    Excerpt: The new results indicate that the solar system could become unstable if diminutive Mercury, the inner most planet, enters into a dance with Jupiter, the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest of all. The resulting upheaval could leave several planets in rubble, including our own. Using Newton’s model of gravity, the chances of such a catastrophe were estimated to be greater than 50/50 over the next 5 billion years. But interestingly, accounting for Albert Einstein’s minor adjustments (according to his theory of relativity), reduces the chances to just 1%.

    Milankovitch Cycle Design – Hugh Ross – August 2011
    Excerpt: In all three cases, Waltham proved that the actual Earth/Moon/solar system manifests unusually low Milankovitch levels and frequencies compared to similar alternative systems. ,,, Waltham concluded, “It therefore appears that there has been anthropic selection for slow Milankovitch cycles.” That is, it appears Earth was purposely designed with slow, low-level Milankovitch cycles so as to allow humans to exist and thrive.

    Evidence from self-consistent solar system n-body simulations is presented to argue that the Earth- Moon system (EM) plays an important dynamical role in the inner solar system, stabilizing the orbits of Venus and Mercury by suppressing a strong secular resonance of period 8.1 Myr near Venus’s heliocentric distance. The EM thus appears to play a kind of “gravitational keystone” role in the terrestrial precinct, for without it, the orbits of Venus and Mercury become immediately destabilized. … First, we find that EM is performing an essential dynamical role by suppressing or “damping out” a secular resonance driven by the giant planets near the Venusian heliocentric distance. The source of the resonance is a libration of the Jovian longitude of perihelion with the Venusian perihelion longitude.

    There is also a well researched statistical analysis of the many independent ‘life-enabling characteristics’, that also have to be met, that gives strong mathematical indication that the earth is extremely unique in its ability to support complex life in this universe.
    The statistical analysis shows, from a naturalistic perspective, that a life permitting planet is extremely unlikely to ‘accidentally emerge’ in the universe. The statistical analysis, (which is actually a refinement of Drake’s probability equation), is dealt with by astro-physicist Dr. Hugh Ross (1945-present) in his paper ‘Probability for Life on Earth’.

    Probability For Life On Earth – List of Parameters, References, and Math – Hugh Ross

    A few of the items in Dr. Ross’s “life-enabling characteristics” list are; Planet location in a proper galaxy’s ‘habitable zone’; Parent star size; Surface gravity of planet; Rotation period of planet; Correct chemical composition of planet; Correct size for moon; Thickness of planets’ crust; Presence of magnetic field; Correct and stable axis tilt; Oxygen to nitrogen ratio in atmosphere; Proper water content of planet; Atmospheric electric discharge rate; Proper seismic activity of planet; Many complex cycles necessary for a stable temperature history of planet; Translucent atmosphere; Various complex, and inter-related, cycles for various elements etc.. etc..
    I could go a lot further in details for there are a total of 322 known parameters on his list, (816 in his updated list), which have to be met for complex life to be possible on Earth, or on a planet like Earth. Individually, these limits are not that impressive but when we realize ALL these limits have to be met at the same time and not one of them can be out of limits for any extended period of time, then the condition becomes ‘irreducibly complex’ and the probability for a world which can host advanced life in this universe becomes very extraordinary. Here is the final summary of Dr. Hugh Ross’s ‘conservative’ estimate for the probability of another life-hosting world in this universe.

    Probability for occurrence of all 322 parameters =10^-388
    Dependency factors estimate =10^96
    Longevity requirements estimate =10^14
    Probability for occurrence of all 322 parameters = 10^-304
    Maximum possible number of life support bodies in universe =10^22

    Thus, less than 1 chance in 10^282 (million trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion) exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracles.

    Dr. Hugh Ross, and his team, have now drastically refined this probability of 1 in 10^304 to a staggering probability of 1 in 10^1054:

    Does the Probability for ETI = 1?
    Excerpt; On the Reasons To Believe website we document that the probability a randomly selected planet would possess all the characteristics intelligent life requires is less than 10^-304. A recent update that will be published with my next book, Hidden Purposes: Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, puts that probability at 10^-1054.

    Linked from Appendix C from Dr. Ross’s book, ‘Why the Universe Is the Way It Is’;
    Probability for occurrence of all 816 parameters approx. equals 10^-1333
    dependency factors estimate approx. equals 10^324
    longevity requirements estimate approx. equals 10^45
    Probability for occurrence of all 816 parameters approx. equals 10^-1054
    Maximum possible number of life support bodies in observable universe approx. equals 10^22

    Thus, less than 1 chance in 10^1032 exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracles.

    Hugh Ross – Evidence For Intelligent Design Is Everywhere (10^-1054) – video

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Gonzalez’s ‘Privileged Planet’ book and video,,,,

    The Privileged Planet – video playlist

    The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery – book By Guillermo Gonzalez, Jay Wesley Richards;f=false

    Gonzalez’s ‘Privileged Planet’ book and video goes one step further than Hugh Ross’s probability calculations for a rare earth in the universe.
    The ‘Privileged Planet’ hypothesis of Gonzalez holds that any ‘rare’ life supporting planet in the universe will also be ‘privileged’ for observation of the universe:

    “The same narrow circumstances that allow us to exist also provide us with the best over all conditions for making scientific discoveries.”
    – Guillermo Gonzalez – Astronomer – Privileged Planet – pg 28

    The very conditions that make Earth hospitable to intelligent life also make it well suited to viewing and analyzing the universe as a whole.
    – Jay Richards

    Gonzalez’s ‘privileged planet’ hypothesis now enjoys confirmation in its basis premise:

    The Fine-Tuning for Discoverability – Robin Collins – March 22, 2014
    Excerpt: Examples of fine – tuning for discoverability.
    ,,A small increase in ? (fine structure constant) would have resulted in all open wood fires going out; yet harnessing fire was essential to the development of civilization, technology, and science – e.g., the forging of metals.,,,
    Going in the other direction, if ? (fine structure constant) were decreased, light microscopes would have proportionality less resolving power without the size of living cells or other microscopic objects changing.,,,
    Thus, it is quite amazing that the resolving power of light microscopes goes down to that of the smallest cell (0.2 microns), but no further. If it had less resolving power, some cells could not be observed alive. The fine – structure constant, therefore, is just small enough to allow for open wood fires and just large enough for the light microscope to be able to see all living cells.
    Predictive and Explanatory Power of Discoverability – Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation
    Prediction: DLO: Within the range of values of a given parameter p that yield near – optimal livability, p will fall into that subrange of values that maximize discoverability (given constraints of elegance are not violated).
    In every case that I was able to make calculations regarding whether the fundamental parameters of physics are optimized in this way, they appear to pass the test.[iv] This alone is significant since this hypothesis is falsifiable in the sense that one could find data that potentially disconfirms it – namely, cases in which as best as we can determining, such as a case in which changing the value of a fundamental parameter – such as the fine – structure constant – increases discoverability while not negatively affecting livability.[v] Below, I will look at a case from cosmology where this thesis could have been disconfirmed but was not.,,,
    The most dramatic confirmation of the discoverability/livability optimality thesis (DLO) is the dependence of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMB) on the baryon to photon ratio.,,,
    …the intensity of CMB depends on the photon to baryon ratio, (??b), which is the ratio of the average number of photons per unit volume of space to the average number of baryons (protons plus neutrons) per unit volume. At present this ratio is approximately a billion to one (10^9) , but it could be anywhere from one to infinity; it traces back to the degree of asymmetry in matter and anti – matter right after the beginning of the universe – for approximately every billion particles of antimatter, there was a billion and one particles of matter.,,,
    The only livability effect this ratio has is on whether or not galaxies can form that have near – optimally livability zones. As long as this condition is met, the value of this ratio has no further effects on livability. Hence, the DLO predicts that within this range, the value of this ratio will be such as to maximize the intensity of the CMB as observed by typical observers.
    According to my calculations – which have been verified by three other physicists — to within the margin of error of the experimentally determined parameters (~20%), the value of the photon to baryon ratio is such that it maximizes the CMB. This is shown in Figure 1 below. (pg. 13)
    It is easy to see that this prediction could have been disconfirmed. In fact, when I first made the calculations in the fall of 2011, I made a mistake and thought I had refuted this thesis since those calculations showed the intensity of the CMB maximizes at a value different than the photon – baryon ratio in our universe. So, not only does the DLO lead us to expect this ratio, but it provides an ultimate explanation for why it has this value,,, This is a case of a teleological thesis serving both a predictive and an ultimate explanatory role.,,,

    Greer Heard Forum: Robin Collins – “God and the Fine-Tuning of the Universe for Discovery” – video

    Of related note, besides the fine-tuning of physics revealing a privileged bias towards intelligent observers, it appears that chemistry is also bias towards life like human life:

    The Place of Life and Man in Nature: Defending the Anthropocentric Thesis – Michael J. Denton – February 25, 2013
    Summary (page 11)
    Many of the properties of the key members of Henderson’s vital ensemble —water, oxygen, CO2, HCO3 —are in several instances fit specifically for warm-blooded, air-breathing organisms such as ourselves.,,,

    Privileged Species – Michael Denton – video

    Of supplemental note: Two tantalizing clues that our solar system and planet may indeed be intelligently designed for life have recently been found.
    One clue is that the Solar System’s orbital plane lines up with ‘anamolous’ data from the Cosmic Backgroud Radiation

    Why is the solar system cosmically aligned? BY Dragan Huterer – 2007
    The solar system seems to line up with the largest cosmic features. Is this mere coincidence or a signpost to deeper insights?
    Caption under figure on page 43:
    ODD ALIGNMENTS hide within the multipoles of the cosmic microwave background. In this combination of the quadrupole and octopole, a plane bisects the sphere between the largest warm and cool lobes. The ecliptic — the plane of Earth’s orbit projected onto the celestial sphere — is aligned parallel to the plane between the lobes.
    Here is the actual graph of the alignment from the Huterer 2007 paper (worth a thousand words):

    Here is a 2013 paper, which used Planck data, which confirmed Huterer’s 2007 paper which had used WMAP data:

    Large-scale alignments from WMAP and Planck – 2013
    We revisit the alignments of the largest structures observed in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) using the seven and nine-year WMAP and first-year Planck data releases. The observed alignments — the quadrupole with the octopole and their joint alignment with the direction of our motion with respect to the CMB (the dipole direction) and the geometry of the Solar System (defined by the Ecliptic plane) — are generally in good agreement with results from the previous WMAP data releases.,,, both the WMAP and Planck data confirm the alignments of the largest observable CMB modes in the Universe.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    Another tantalizing clue that our planet may indeed be Intelligently Designed for life is found in the following discovery:

    Radio Astronomy now reveals a surprising rotational coincidence for Earth in relation to the quasar and radio galaxy distributions in the universe:

    Is there a violation of the Copernican principle in radio sky? – Ashok K. Singal – May 17, 2013
    Abstract: Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR) observations from the WMAP satellite have shown some unexpected anisotropies (directionally dependent observations), which surprisingly seem to be aligned with the eclipticcite {20,16,15}. The latest data from the Planck satellite have confirmed the presence of these anisotropiescite {17}. Here we report even larger anisotropies in the sky distributions of powerful extended quasars and some other sub-classes of radio galaxies in the 3CRR catalogue, one of the oldest and most intensively studies sample of strong radio sourcescite{21,22,3}. The anisotropies lie about a plane passing through the two equinoxes and the north celestial pole (NCP). We can rule out at a 99.995% confidence level the hypothesis that these asymmetries are merely due to statistical fluctuations. Further, even the distribution of observed radio sizes of quasars and radio galaxies show large systematic differences between these two sky regions. The redshift distribution appear to be very similar in both regions of sky for all sources, which rules out any local effects to be the cause of these anomalies. Two pertinent questions then arise. First, why should there be such large anisotropies present in the sky distribution of some of the most distant discrete sources implying inhomogeneities in the universe at very large scales (covering a fraction of the universe)? What is intriguing even further is why such anisotropies should lie about a great circle decided purely by the orientation of earth’s rotation axis and/or the axis of its revolution around the sun? It looks as if these axes have a preferential placement in the larger scheme of things, implying an apparent breakdown of the Copernican principle or its more generalization, cosmological principle, upon which all modern cosmological theories are based upon.

    of supplemental note: The Anthropic Inequality also argues that the earth was Intelligently Designed

    Lucky Us: Turning the Copernican Principle on Its Head – Daniel Bakken – January 26, 2015
    Excerpt: What if intelligence and technology hadn’t arisen in Earth’s habitability time window? Waltham in Lucky Planet asks “So, how do we explain the remarkable coincidence that the timescale for the emergence of intelligence is almost the same as the timescale for habitability?” Researchers Carter and Watson have dubbed this idea the anthropic inequality and it seems surprising, if it is not for some purpose.,,,

    Hugh Ross – The Anthropic Principle and The Anthropic Inequality – video (23:00 minute mark)

    Anthropic Principle: A Precise Plan for Humanity By Hugh Ross
    Excerpt: Brandon Carter, the British mathematician who coined the term “anthropic principle” (1974), noted the strange inequity of a universe that spends about 15 billion years “preparing” for the existence of a creature that has the potential to survive no more than 10 million years (optimistically).,, Carter and (later) astrophysicists John Barrow and Frank Tipler demonstrated that the inequality exists for virtually any conceivable intelligent species under any conceivable life-support conditions. Roughly 15 billion years represents a minimum preparation time for advanced life: 11 billion toward formation of a stable planetary system, one with the right chemical and physical conditions for primitive life, and four billion more years toward preparation of a planet within that system, one richly layered with the biodeposits necessary for civilized intelligent life. Even this long time and convergence of “just right” conditions reflect miraculous efficiency.
    Moreover the physical and biological conditions necessary to support an intelligent civilized species do not last indefinitely. They are subject to continuous change: the Sun continues to brighten, Earth’s rotation period lengthens, Earth’s plate tectonic activity declines, and Earth’s atmospheric composition varies. In just 10 million years or less, Earth will lose its ability to sustain human life. In fact, this estimate of the human habitability time window may be grossly optimistic. In all likelihood, a nearby supernova eruption, a climatic perturbation, a social or environmental upheaval, or the genetic accumulation of negative mutations will doom the species to extinction sometime sooner than twenty thousand years from now.

    Verse, and Inspirational videos:

    Isaiah 45:18-19
    For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the Lord, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth; I did not say to the seed of Jacob, ‘seek me in vain’; I, the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.”

    Timescapes – video – from the 2010 astronomy photographer of the year

    Baja California Timelapses – video (speaks a tension between time and timelessness that brings a holiness to mind and eye)

  5. 5
    tjguy says:

    They are trying their darnedest to avoid arriving at the conclusion that our solar system and life is unique, but so far, to no avail.

    How long will they be able to hold out in the face of growing evidence to the contrary?

    Some will hold out forever no matter what the evidence because there is no way we can check every solar system and planet in the universe. So it is guaranteed that there will always be a place for the faith of materialists to hide.

  6. 6
    Dionisio says:

    #5 tjguy

    How long will they be able to hold out in the face of growing evidence to the contrary?

    Some will hold out forever no matter what the evidence because there is no way we can check every solar system and planet in the universe. So it is guaranteed that there will always be a place for the faith of materialists to hide.

    Materialism of the gaps?


  7. 7
    anthropic says:

    I’m very surprised — or maybe I just missed it? — that nobody has mentioned the recent WISE satellite observations re alien civilizations. Basically, the satellite searched for energy anomalies in the mid-infrared wavelengths that would be expected if an advanced alien civilization actually existed in another galaxy.

    Result after years of searching, especially the 100,000 most promising galactic candidates: nada. ET does not seem to exist.

  8. 8
    jerry says:


    If I can find the podcast on this, I will forward the link (about 20 minutes total). I listened to it on the John Batchelor show about how Jupiter acted to set up our solar system in a way not expected.

    Batchelor is anything but an ID person and often has Nicholas Wade on as a guest. His show is mostly politics but frequently gets into science. It is the most eclectic program on the planet.

    Friday 27 March 2015 / Hour 1, Blocks C and D: Konstantin Batygin, Caltech, in re: his possible scenario has been suggested by Konstantin Batygin, a Caltech planetary scientist, and Gregory Laughlin of UC Santa Cruz in a paper that appears the week of March 23 in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

    The paper also suggests that the formation of gas giant planets such as Jupiter and Saturn—a process that planetary scientists believe is relatively rare—plays a major role in determining whether a planetary system winds up looking something like our own or like the more typical systems with close-in super-Earths. As planet-hunters identify additional systems that harbor gas giants, Batygin and Laughlin will have more data against which they can check their hypothesis—to see just how often other migrating giant planets set off collisional cascades in their planetary systems, sending primordial super-Earths into their host stars.

    The researchers describe their work in a paper entitled “Jupiter’s Decisive Role in the Inner Solar System’s Early Evolution.”

    The article is available for a price here

    It is titled “Jupiter’s decisive role in the inner Solar System’s early evolution”

    Here is a discussion of the article

  9. 9
    Silver Asiatic says:

    anthropic @ 7

    Interesting also, it’s a NASA research project published in The Astrophysical Journal

    It sounds a little whacky, but the physics is solid – if a clever alien society has worked out how to harness the energy from its galaxy’s stars and is using it to power technology, such as space flight, communication, or something beyond what we can imagine, then we should be able to detect it.

    It’s an ID project. According to this, we should be able to detect signs of an unknown intelligence, from unknown designers. There is an assumption that the alien society would harness energy in a way we’re familiar with, but there’s no need to know anything else about them.

  10. 10
    bFast says:

    “Canadians do that too (CBC).” I am getting so sick of CBCs social engineering agenda. If their guest isn’t some religious wacko, then they are a strange variant of gay, or they want to die real bad. If you know a religious wacko, strange variant of gay that wants to die real bad, CBC wants to make an episode out of them.

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