So here we are, exploring how a religious book approaches science in a way that attempts to equalize faith and fact, often within the same sentence.
Chapter one deals with telescopes and microscopes, plus some geology, biology and geography thrown in for filler.
While I considered snapping shots of every page, this image gives you a sense of what this book contains – namely art from an era before colour printing was an affordable option interspersed with praises to God for doing such a damn fine job with the universe. Instead, I’ll start by listing the sections covered on each page of this chapter.
The Glory of the Stars
The All-Important Sun
Who Put the Rings Around Saturn?
The Thrill of a Shooting Star
What is an Atom?
What is a Molecule?
Bacteria Invisible but Important
Traveling With the Earth
The Importance of the Oceans
Water and Ice
The Miracle of Springtime
A Summer Thunderstorm
His Promise in the Sky (if you guessed this was rainbows, give yourself a cookie.)
Trees Came First (except they didn’t)
The Lowly Acorn
The Desert Cactus
And we’re done chapter one. There’s only seven chapters to the book but seventeen rather random topics in the first chapter. Perhaps intended to be an overview of what the rest of the chapters hold…
Onto current(ish) science.
Regarding stars (that are not our sun — named Chad, if you didn’t realize – thank the fellows at Smart Enough to Know Better for that one), I pull from Sky and Telescope, a 2014 article, but probably still pretty accurate when large numbers are involved. The answer depends on how the question is asked – do we mean total in the universe (a figure we can only guestimate) or total visible from Earth (a figure we can only guestimate, but can know for sure it’s a smaller number)?
Astronomers estimate that the observable universe has more than 100 billion galaxies. Our own Milky Way is home to around 300 billion stars, but it’s not representative of galaxies in general. The Milky Way is a titan compared to abundant but faint dwarf galaxies, and it in turn is dwarfed by rare giant elliptical galaxies, which can be 20 times more massive. By measuring the number and luminosity of observable galaxies, astronomers put current estimates of the total stellar population at roughly 70 billion trillion (7 x 1022).
9096 “local” stars, though. Give or take a few thousand depending on light pollution getting in the way of visibility…
In terms of Chad, the book notes that the sun’s light takes 8 minutes to get here (close enough; really 8m 20s, as noted by phys.org. )
You probably know that photons are created by fusion reactions inside the Sun’s core. They start off as gamma radiation and then are emitted and absorbed countless times in the Sun’s radiative zone, wandering around inside the massive star before they finally reach the surface.
What you probably don’t know, is that these photons striking your eyeballs were ACTUALLY created tens of thousands of years ago and it took that long for them to be emitted by the sun.
Once they escaped the surface, it was only a short 8 minutes for those photons to cross the vast distance from the Sun to the Earth.
It also notes the Goldilocks Zone, but not by name. Just the “miracle” that is Earth’s distance from the sun for why life’s possible.
In terms of who put rings around Saturn, the answer is whoever wanted it…not that Saturn is a Single Lady… Current theories suggest the massive gravity of the planet succeeded in breaking up comets and other interlopers in the area, dispersing the pieces in orbit around Saturn until we are where it looks today. Beautiful, frankly.
Last bit for part 1 – Shooting stars and meteorites — just yesterday one went sailing over Michigan and was caught on several cameras. While people claim an earthquake happened with it, Scientific American suggests it was more likely a sonic boom that took audiences by surprise. Seismometers may have still registered the vibration, though.
In this case, the meteor’s boom—its sound waves—were recorded as a magnitude-2.0 event on a nearby seismometer located about 5 miles (8 kilometers) southwest of New Haven, Michigan. But this measurement doesn’t express how much energy the meteor released as it flew overhead, Bellini said.
“There’s no way to translate the actual energy from an air blast into seismometers,” Bellini said. “They’re not designed to measure vibrations coming from the air.”
And from that, I give you this delight – the Hubs has been mesmerized by a piece of music by Space called Magic Fly; I knew of it years earlier but it’s become the newest obsession for household listening. You can watch the original, but here I put in the other version — with cats! In Space!