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Two models of planet formation now “duking it out”

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Mercury from Messenger/NASA

From Nola Taylor Redd at Space.com:

Although planets surround stars in the galaxy, how they form remains a subject of debate. Despite the wealth of worlds in our own solar system, scientists still aren’t certain how planets are built. Currently, two theories are duking it out for the role of champion.

The first and most widely accepted theory, core accretion, works well with the formation of the terrestrial planets like Mercury but has problems with giant planets. The second, the disk instability method, may account for the creation of these giant planets.

Now, as for Mercury:

Like Earth, the metallic core of Mercury formed first, and then gathered lighter elements around it to form its crust and mantle. Mercury, like other planets, likely collected the more nebulous pieces that would form its atmosphere. Unlike its siblings, however, the planet’s small mass (Mercury is the smallest of the planets) and close proximity to the sun kept it from keeping a firm hold on the gases. Interactions with the solar wind constantly strip the planet of its thin atmosphere, even as it provides an influx.

But disk instability works better for giant planets, researchers say.

Meanwhile, Mercury continues to surprise:

Studies of Mercury reveal that its core is significantly more massive than expected in relation to the rest of the planet. With a radius of between 1,100 to 1,200 miles (1,800 to 1,900 kilometers), the mostly-iron core stretches through 75 percent of the planet’s diameter and makes up a significant amount of its volume. The crust, on the other hand, is only 300 to 400 miles (500 to 600 km) thick. … More.

Surprisingly enough, we’re not sure how the moon was formed either.

File:GRAIL's gravity map of the moon.jpg
gravity map of Moon/NASA

See also: Another moon origin theory: epic crash

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Although planets surround stars in the galaxy, how they form remains a subject of debate. Despite the wealth of worlds in our own solar system, scientists still aren’t certain how planets are built. Currently, two theories are duking it out for the role of champion.
Wow, a rare bit of honesty here from Materialists! I bet very few people knew that before! Normally they just tell us how it happened and expect us to believe them, but in reality, they really do NOT know. AND, the fact that there are two theories duking it out, show that there are problems with both theories providing further evidence that THEY REALLY DO NOT KNOW! And yet we're told that the Big Bang is a fact and settled science, etc. Hmmm. Anyway, KUDOS to them for being honest here about the issues! We need more of that in science! From an article on crev.info:
Just add pebbles, stir, and get a planet. Is it real science, or just a game show? Eric Hand is on hand at Science Magazine to tell us how Jupiter and Saturn were born from pebbles: By Jove, they’ve done it! Planetary scientists have overcome a key problem in explaining the emergence of the solar system’s behemoths—Jupiter and Saturn. Previous models predicted too many gas giants. But a new study shows how just a few such monsters should emerge from a swirling protoplanetary disk of gas and dust. “We can now start with a pretty simple disk, pretty simple physics, and reproduce the outer solar system—and that’s never been done before,” says Hal Levison, a planetary scientist at Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, who led the study. Levison has worried about gas giants for a long time (e.g., 8/06/04). Are his worries over with his new study published in Nature? Remember that just last week (8/15/15), we cited several papers that presented unsolved problems in accretion theory. The history of planet-making theories is not encouraging: over the years, we’ve seen the death of the planetesimal hypothesis (6/03/03, 5/04/14), the tar-baby Jupiter model (8/11/04), Alan Boss with his heretical DISK INSTABILITY MODEL (3/21/06), the just-add-water hypothesis (3/19/08), Erik Asphaug with his hurry-up model (5/21/09), the use of miracles to evade the death spiral (8/21/09), the ‘need a whole new theory’ crisis (7/05/14), the dry Jupiter falsification (7/26/14), and more.
(See the article for links to the previous articles) http://crev.info/2015/08/planet-recipe-levison/ See also "Planets Defy Bottom Up Assembly" http://crev.info/2015/08/planets-dont-evolve/ From the latter article:
Secular planetary scientists deny Earth exceptionalism, and Darwinians deny human exceptionalism. It’s not surprising that many of them are political liberals who deny American exceptionalism. We should retort by saying that their opinions are not exceptional, either. Evolutionists are enamored with that phrase “building blocks.” Particles were the building blocks of stars, stars the building blocks of galaxies, dust the building blocks of planets, and chemicals the building blocks of life. Where is the builder? How do they know their building blocks are not debris of collisions? This is an example of the power of suggestion in the words used.
In response to the ‘privileged planet’ thesis, I once had an atheist retort that he would rather live near the galactic core instead of on the edge of the galaxy so as to be better able to study Black Holes in particular . . .
He may have been flippant in his particular comment, but his point is an important one that needs to be taken seriously. The livability/discoverability thesis depends on some kind of evaluation of the subjective “value” of certain discoveries, and how our particular conditions allow us to make more and better discoveries than if our environment were different. For example, Gonzalez and Richards point to the clarity of our atmosphere as something that permits discovery. And yet . . . If we lived on a planet perpetually shrouded by cloud cover there might have been greater and sooner efforts to break through that barrier to see if anything lie beyond. And if intelligent beings on such a world were successful, they could point to the clouds as something that pushed them to fly and eventually create a space program. Indeed, they could argue that their livability conditions were just what they needed to press the boundaries of science and make discoveries! Or . . . if we were intelligent beings living natively in the deep ocean we would be astounded at the tremendous things we had discovered. Proving . . . one imagines a deep-sea author to argue . . . that our life in the deep oceans was tailor-made to impel us to discover all those wonderful things about the ocean! You see, the whole problem with the livability/discoverability correlation is that there is no clear specification – the necessary, critical, inescapable hallmark of intelligent design. True, it might be the case that Gonzalez and Richards have discovered some rough correlation across a wide range of parameters. Further investigation is also probably warranted, as Collins argues. But the correlation is definitely not a clear cut situation and there are so many false positives, that as a robust scientific argument I just wouldn't feel comfortable advancing it.
And thus, like everything else in Intelligent Design, it seems that the inference to Design, in the end, always boils down to a matter of personal preference. For some, watching a sunset is enough to let them know that Design of the universe is undeniably real. For others, not even the discovery of the absolute beginning for the entire universe is enough to dissuade them from their anti-theistic preferences.
No. I don’t think that is the right way to look at it. And we must not throw up our hands in defeat and accept that it is all just personal preference. Instead, what we need to do is keep focused on the fact that some arguments for design are stronger than others. Specifically, we need to be careful and disciplined about drawing a clear distinction between the scientific case for intelligent design based on complex specified information, and other things in the cosmos that look intriguing, interesting, or that hint of design in some broader philosophical sense. The former is very well laid out, and is most definitely not a matter of preference. Yes, some people will obtusely refuse to understand or acknowledge intelligent design in the case of complex specified information, but that is a separate problem. That design played a role in, say, the origin of DNA, is a fact with essentially as much certainty as any other historical inference in science. Not so for watching a sunset. The recognition of this distinction is part of the reason why I feel compelled to press on the Privileged Planet livability/discoverability claim as it relates to design. It is just too loose, too subject to individual preference, too devoid of concrete specification to make it a solid design hypothesis. Is it an interesting idea? Absolutely. Is it intriguing? Sure. Is it worth thinking about, and perhaps even writing a book about? No doubt. Does it merit additional funding and research? Probably. Does it rise to the same level of design inference we have in biology, with molecular machines performing specific functions toward a larger goal, digital-based coding systems, semiotic arrangements, storage, transcription, translation processes and the like? No. Not even close. Eric Anderson
Instead of 'observability correlation' I should have more specifically said something like 'livability/discoverabilty correlation'. Gonzalez states:
“The same narrow circumstances that allow us to exist also provide us with the best over all conditions for making scientific discoveries.” - Gonzalez
Collins extended the thesis to state:
"the data suggest a particularly strong version of the discoverability thesis, what I call the discoverability/livability optimality thesis (DLO): 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)." http://home.messiah.edu/~rcollins/Fine-tuning/Greer-Heard%20Forum%20paper%20draft%20for%20posting.pdf
Collins cites a number of examples and goes on to suggest that this will be a fruitful area of investigation. And in following in Collins's overall thesis we find, first, that any atmosphere that is able to support intelligent life, such as humans, will also have a clear atmosphere in which to view and analyze the cosmos, i.e. a life enabling atmosphere which just so happens to also enable 'discoverability'. Secondly, (in following in Collins's overall thesis), we find that such a 'discoverability' atmosphere is also fine-tuned for intelligent life, like humans, in particular, and not just for any other life as would be expected on naturalism. First, this excerpt from Privileged Planet;
"Now of course, if you were suddenly transported to Titan, or Venus, or to one of the out-lying gas giant planets, the lack of a clear view of the universe wouldn't be much of an issue because you'd be dead. But that is precisely the point. If we are right; if the conditions for habitability and scientific discovery appear in the same places, then you are going to get conditions like you do on earth. An atmosphere that sustains complex life, like ourselves, and also enables scientific discoveries of the universe,,,. - Jay Richards Excerpt 8:12 minute mark,,, "These specific frequencies of light (that enable plants to manufacture food and astronomers to observe the cosmos) represent less than 1 trillionth of a trillionth (10^-24) of the universe’s entire range of electromagnetic emissions." Fine tuning of Light, Atmosphere, and Water to Photosynthesis (etc..) – video (2016) - 6:20 minute mark https://youtu.be/NIwZqDkrj9I?t=384
Secondly, and then we find, from Denton's 'privileged species' thesis, that the atmosphere just so happens to be of maximum benefit for humans in particular
Dr. Michael Denton Interview Excerpt Question 14: 14. Q: ,,,you also detail that nature isn’t fine-tuned for just any kind of life, but life specifically like human life. Would you expound on this for our readers? A: there are certain elements of the fine-tuning which are clearly for advanced being like ourselves. We are warm-blooded, terrestrial aerobes; we use oxidation to get energy, we’re warm-blooded and we breathe air. We get our oxygen from the air. First of all, a warm-blooded organism needs to maintain a constant temperature. To do that we are massively assisted by the high specific heat of water, which buffers our body against rapid changes in temperature. In getting rid of excess heat, we utilize the evaporative cooling of water. That’s why dog’s pant, we sweat, etc. Warm-blooded organisms have to get rid of excess heat, and the evaporative cooling of water is the only way you’ve really got to get rid of heat when the temperature reaches close to body temperature. When it’s hot you can’t radiate off body heat to the environment. These critical thermal properties are obviously of great utility to air breathing, warm-blooded organisms like our self. But what relevance do they have to an extremophile living in the deep ocean, or a cold-blooded fish living in the sea? It’s obvious that these are elements of fitness in nature which seem to be of great and specific utility to beings like us, and very little utility to a lot of other organisms.,,, Or consider the generation and utilization of oxygen. We use oxygen, but many organisms don’t use oxygen; for a lot of organisms it’s a poison. So how do we get our oxygen? When we look at the conditions in the universe for photosynthesis, we find a magical collusion between of all sorts of different elements of fitness. First of all the atmospheric gases let through visual light which has got the right energy for biochemistry, for photosynthesis. And what are the gases in the atmosphere that let through the light? Well, carbon dioxide, water vapor, oxygen, and nitrogen. And what are the basic reactants which are involved in photosynthesis? Well, oxygen, water, and CO2. The same compounds that let through the light are also the main ‘players’ in photosynthesis. And then you might wonder what about the harmful radiations? UV, Gamma rays, microwaves? Well to begin with the sun only puts out most of its electromagnetic radian energy in the visual region (light) and near infrared (heat) and puts out very little in the dangerous regions (UV’s, gamma rays, X-rays etc.). And wonder on wonder, the atmospheric gases absorb all these harmful radiations. And so on and on and on, one anthropocentric biofriendly coincidence after another. And what provides the necessary warmth for photosynthesis, indeed for all life on earth. What keeps the average temperature of the earth above freezing? Well water vapor and carbon dioxide. If it wasn’t for water vapor and CO2 in the atmosphere the temperature of the earth would be -33 centigrade. Now when you consider all these factors necessary for the generation of oxygen via photosynthesis knowing that not all organisms use oxygen implying that all these coincidences are irrelevant to the vast majority of all species (most of the biomass on the planet may well be anaerobic unicellular life occupying the hot deep biosphere in the sub surface rocks) never use oxygen, its clear that the special fitness of nature for oxygen utilization is for us. http://successfulstudent.org/dr-michael-denton-interview/ 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. http://bio-complexity.org/ojs/index.php/main/article/view/BIO-C.2013.1/BIO-C.2013.1 Privileged Species - How the cosmos is designed for human life - video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoI2ms5UHWg
In response to the 'privileged planet' thesis, I once had an atheist retort that he would rather live near the galactic core instead of on the edge of the galaxy so as to be better able to study Black Holes in particular. Why he liked Black Holes I have no idea. I prefer the Cosmic Background Radiation myself since I consider it to be the most important scientific discovery of the last century. Yet, on that frivolous black hole objection, he held that the privileged planet thesis was false. I found his response to be severely disingenuous to the fact, as highlighted in this post, that it truly is an extraordinary set of 'coincidences' which enable us to even be able to view the cosmos in the first place. And thus, like everything else in Intelligent Design, it seems that the inference to Design, in the end, always boils down to a matter of personal preference. For some, watching a sunset is enough to let them know that Design of the universe is undeniably real. For others, not even the discovery of the absolute beginning for the entire universe is enough to dissuade them from their anti-theistic preferences. bornagain77
Thanks, BA77. What, precisely, is the argument from 'observability correlation?' How would you phrase the argument in a single sentence? I'm not trying to trick you. I want to make sure we are on the same page. Eric Anderson
At the 13:55 minute mark of this following video, Max Tegmark, an atheist, finally admits, post Planck 2013, that the CMBR anomalies do indeed line up with the earth and solar system
"Thoughtcrime: The Conspiracy to Stop The Principle" - video https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=0eVUSDy_rO0#t=832
Of semi-related interest:
Fine tuning of Light, Atmosphere, and Water to Photosynthesis (etc..) - video (2016) https://youtu.be/NIwZqDkrj9I
I find the argument from 'observability correlation' rather robust. Especially since Robin Collins extended the argument here:
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.,,, http://home.messiah.edu/~rcollins/Fine-tuning/Greer-Heard%20Forum%20paper%20draft%20for%20posting.pdf Greer Heard Forum: Robin Collins – “God and the Fine-Tuning of the Universe for Discovery” – video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBWmMU7BXGE
Of related interest to that paper by Collins, it is also now found that we live at the right time in cosmic history to see the Cosmic Background Radiation
We Live At The Right Time In Cosmic History To see the Cosmic Background Radiation - Hugh Ross – video (7:12 minute mark) https://youtu.be/MxOGeqVOsvc?t=431
Moreover, anomalies in the CMB just so happen to line up with solar system and earth
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. http://www-personal.umich.edu/~huterer/PRESS/CMB_Huterer.pdf Here is the actual graph of the alignment from the Huterer 2007 paper (worth a thousand words): http://i44.servimg.com/u/f44/16/14/18/96/axis_o10.jpg Large-Angle Anomalies in the CMB - 2010 Excerpt Our studies (see [14]) indicate that the observed alignments are with the ecliptic plane, with the equinox, or with the CMB dipole, and not with the Galactic plane: the alignments of the quadrupole and octopole planes with the equinox/ecliptic/dipole directions are much more significant than those for the Galactic plane. Moreover, it is remarkably curious that it is precisely the ecliptic alignment that has been found on somewhat smaller scales using the power spectrum analyses of statistical isotropy, http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aa/2010/847541/ 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. http://arxiv.org/abs/1305.4134 What Is Evil About The Axis Of Evil? - February 17, 2015 The Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) Radiation contains small temperature fluctuations. When these temperature fluctuations are analyzed using image processing techniques (specifically spherical harmonics), they indicate a special direction in space, or, in a sense, an axis through the universe. This axis is correlated back to us, and causes many difficulties for the current big bang and standard cosmology theories. What has been discovered is shocking. Two scientists, Kate Land and João Magueijo, in a paper in 2005 describing the axis, dubbed it the “Axis of Evil” because of the damage it does to current theories, and (tongue in cheek) as a response to George Bush’ Axis of Evil speech regarding Iraq, Iran and, North Korea. (Youtube clip on site) In the above video, Max Tegmark describes in a simplified way how spherical harmonics analysis decomposes the small temperature fluctuations into more averaged and spatially arranged temperature components, known as multipoles. The “Axis of Evil” correlates to the earth’s ecliptic and equinoxes, and this represents a very unusual and unexpected special direction in space, a direct challenge to the Copernican Principle. http://www.theprinciplemovie.com/evil-axis-evil/
Thanks BA77: Good observations and quotes. I agree there is a decent argument that Earth is special. Indeed, a much stronger argument than the opposite: that Earth is mundane and ordinary. Comparatively, though, the case for design of Earth is significantly less than in biology. However, that assessment is more a highlighting of the tremendous strength in biology, rather than an indictment of the other. ----- Incidentally, what do you make of the corollary argument Gonzalez and Richards make about observability (that you cited at the end)? I've always found the argument interesting, but quite weak. There are just too many potential counter-examples, coupled with a lack of any principled way to assess the "amount" of observability we have. Yes, it is worth Gonzalez and Richards pointing it out. It is even worth them writing a book, or a few chapters, about it. I keep it in the back of my mind as an interesting tidbit to consider. It is even something that gives me pause and makes me consider the possible implications for a broader plan or purpose to the Earth and our place on the Earth. But I personally wouldn't use it as a serious argument for design in its own right. Eric Anderson
As to "Mercury continues to surprise", here is another bit of trivia about Mercury, and the 'delicate architecture' of the overall solar system, which I found surprising:
“You might also think that these disparate bodies are scattered across the solar system without rhyme or reason. But move any piece of the solar system today, or try to add anything more, and the whole construction would be thrown fatally out of kilter. So how exactly did this delicate architecture come to be?” R. Webb - Unknown solar system 1: How was the solar system built? - New Scientist – 2009 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%. http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2011/07/of-gaps-fine-tuning-and-newtons-solar.html Is the Solar System Stable? By Scott Tremaine - 2011 Excerpt: So what are the results? Most of the calculations agree that eight billion years from now, just before the Sun swallows the inner planets and incinerates the outer ones, all of the planets will still be in orbits very similar to their present ones. In this limited sense, the solar system is stable. However, a closer look at the orbit histories reveals that the story is more nuanced. After a few tens of millions of years, calculations using slightly different parameters (e.g., different planetary masses or initial positions within the small ranges allowed by current observations) or different numerical algorithms begin to diverge at an alarming rate. More precisely, the growth of small differences changes from linear to exponential:,,, As an example, shifting your pencil from one side of your desk to the other today could change the gravitational forces on Jupiter enough to shift its position from one side of the Sun to the other a billion years from now. The unpredictability of the solar system over very long times is of course ironic since this was the prototypical system that inspired Laplacian determinism. Fortunately, most of this unpredictability is in the orbital phases of the planets, not the shapes and sizes of their orbits, so the chaotic nature of the solar system does not normally lead to collisions between planets. However, the presence of chaos implies that we can only study the long-term fate of the solar system in a statistical sense, by launching in our computers an armada of solar systems with slightly different parameters at the present time—typically, each planet is shifted by a random amount of about a millimeter—and following their evolution. When this is done, it turns out that in about 1 percent of these systems, Mercury’s orbit becomes sufficiently eccentric so that it collides with Venus before the death of the Sun. Thus, the answer to the question of the stability of the solar system—more precisely, will all the planets survive until the death of the Sun—is neither “yes” nor “no” but “yes, with 99 percent probability.” https://www.ias.edu/about/publications/ias-letter/articles/2011-summer/solar-system-tremaine 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. http://iopscience.iop.org/1538-3881/116/4/2055/pdf/1538-3881_116_4_2055.pdf
Of related note, I just finished reading Chapter 7 of Hugh Ross's new book "Improbable Planet". The many overlapping parameters that have to be met in order for any Earth like planet to be able to host life in this universe, which Dr. Ross goes over in Chapter 7 of his book, are impressive to put it mildly. Impressive to the point of invoking the word 'miraculous' in my thoughts as I read about the multiple overlapping parameters. In the following quote, Guillermo Gonzalez, who is an author of Privileged Planet, briefly touches on what is involved in getting a habitable Earth like planet in this universe:
Be Skeptical of the Hype in the Search for “Earth-like” Planets When it comes to exoplanets, "Earth-size" does not mean "Earth-like" - By Guillermo Gonzalez - January 29, 2015 Excerpt: Research is making it increasingly obvious that habitability depends on far more than a few planetary “ingredients” — the few we usually hear about in the breathless news stories about “Earth-like” planets. To grasp the full picture, we have to take account of the myriad details of a planet’s origin, the way it changes over time and its present status. What’s more, all the factors interact in complex ways that we are only beginning to understand. A small change in one of these may affect the others, resulting in a dead world. https://stream.org/skeptical-hype-search-earth-like-planets/
Here is a list from Dr. Ross's previous book on the subject:
Linked from Appendix C from Dr. Ross's book, 'Why the Universe Is the Way It Is'; Probability Estimates for the Features Required by Various Life Forms: Excerpt: Requirements to sustain bacteria for 90 days or less: Probability for occurrence of all 501 parameters approx. 10-614 dependency factors estimate approx. 10^-303 longevity requirements estimate approx. 10^22 Probability for occurrence of all 501 parameters approx. 10^-333 Maximum possible number of life support bodies in observable universe approx. 10^22 Thus, less than 1 chance in 10^311 exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracles. Requirements to sustain unicellar life for three billion year: Probability for occurrence of all 676 parameters approx. 10^-859 dependency factors estimate approx. 10^-303 longevity requirements estimate approx. 10^22 Probability for occurrence of all 676 parameters approx. 10^-578 Maximum possible number of life support bodies in observable universe approx. 10^22 Thus, less than 1 chance in 10^556 exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracle Requirements to sustain intelligent physical life: Probability for occurrence of all 816 parameters approx. 10^-1333 dependency factors estimate approx. 10^-324 longevity requirements estimate approx. 10^45 Probability for occurrence of all 816 parameters approx. 10^-1054 Maximum possible number of life support bodies in observable universe approx. 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 miracle http://www.reasons.org/files/compendium/compendium_part3.pdf
Here is an interview Dr. Ross recently gave to Frank Turek about his new book:
Improbable Planet: How Earth Became Humanity's Home. - Frank Turek interviews Hugh Ross – Sept. 17, 2016 http://player.subsplash.com/8b92f21
Of supplemental note, here is a video based on Gonzalez's book "Privileged Planet".
The Privileged Planet – video playlist https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ohuG3Vj_48&list=PLbzQ4aXdqWD-9kjFsSm-cxNlzgrkJuko7
Of note, Privileged Planet, besides holding Earth like planets in the universe are exceeding rare, also holds that any life supporting planet in the universe will also be 'privileged' for making scientific observations of the universe.
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 The Privileged Planet - The Correlation Of Habitability and Observability “The same narrow circumstances that allow us to exist also provide us with the best over all conditions for making scientific discoveries.” “The one place that has observers is the one place that also has perfect solar eclipses.” “There is a final, even more bizarre twist. Because of Moon-induced tides, the Moon is gradually receding from Earth at 3.82 centimeters per year. In ten million years will seem noticeably smaller. At the same time, the Sun’s apparent girth has been swelling by six centimeters per year for ages, as is normal in stellar evolution. These two processes, working together, should end total solar eclipses in about 250 million years, a mere 5 percent of the age of the Earth. This relatively small window of opportunity also happens to coincide with the existence of intelligent life. Put another way, the most habitable place in the Solar System yields the best view of solar eclipses just when observers can best appreciate them.” - Guillermo Gonzalez - Astronomer http://books.google.com/books?id=lMdwFWZ00GQC&pg=PT28#v=onepage&q&f=false
And I'm still not convinced that the standard story of core accretion "works well with the formation of the terrestrial planets." That said, I wouldn't put this kind of issue in the same category as, say, an information-rich, digital-code-based suite of molecules that carry out highly complex specified functions in biology. There may well be a purely natural process (or processes) that can explain the formation of most stars and planets. True, it is not clear that this is the case, as the continuing debate about their formation underscores. True, we should be open to the possibility of some kind of intelligent intervention. But unless we are talking about a highly specific situation, like the Earth, I don't think we can draw much of a design inference about star and planet formation. Even with the Earth, the inference is far, far weaker than in biology. To the point that we should be very cautious about advancing it.* ----- * I don't mean to imply that News is advancing a design inference as to planet formation. Just pointing out that we should be careful about doing so. Eric Anderson

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