How Religion Drives Science and Why it Matters
Of related interest to 'Stardust from space':Michael Denton - We Are Stardust - Uncanny Balance Of The Elements - Atheist Fred Hoyle's conversion to a Deist/Theist - videohttp://www.metacafe.com/watch/4003877The Elements: Forged in Stars - videohttp://www.metacafe.com/watch/4003861The Role of Elements in Life Processeshttp://www.mii.org/periodic/LifeElement.phpCarbon is shown to be the only element, from the periodic table of elements, by which the complex molecules of life in this universe may be built. The carbon atom is a marvel in and of itself. Carbon is the sixth element on the periodic table and makes up two tenths of one percent of the earths crust. It is the backbone of which all life is built or can be built. It makes up 18% of the mass of our body. In its pure form it is recognized as soot, pencil lead or diamonds. Diamonds are the hardest substance known. Carbon fiber is the strongest fiber known. Carbon fiber is used in the construction of high performance airplanes, tennis rackets and bicycles, just to name a few. Man-made carbon-based molecules have allowed breakthroughs in low temperature super-conductors. Carbon-60 is a recent discovery, from the 1980's, called the buckyball. It is a molecule of sixty interlocking carbon atoms and is the roundest substance known in all molecular science. Graphene, which is a more recent 'revolutionary' discovery within the last decade, is a remarkably flat molecule made of carbon atoms arranged in hexagonal rings, and is the thinnest material possible. Graphene is made of ordinary carbon atoms arranged in a "chicken-wire" lattice. These layers, sometimes just a single atom thick, conduct electricity with virtually no resistance, very little heat generation -- and less power consumption than silicon. Graphene conducts electricity better than any other known material at room temperature and is ten times stronger than steel. Graphene promises to greatly outperform silicon in computer chips in the near future.
Carbon has the unique ability to form long chains of complex molecules that have a high degree of stability. Stable complex molecules are required to build sugars, to build DNA, to build RNA, to build amino acids, to build proteins, to build cells, and finally, to build all living organisms on earth. Substances formed around carbon far out-number all other substances combined. No other element comes close to forming the wide variety of stable compounds as does carbon. Yet if it were not for this unique ability to form complex molecules, life could not exist. Organic chemistry, the study of carbon compounds, and their profuse and intricate behavior, is a dedicated science in its own right.The only element similar to carbon, which has the necessary atomic structure to form the macro (large) molecules needed for life, is silicon. Yet silicon, though having the correct atomic structure, is severely limited in its ability to make complex macro-molecules. Silicon-based molecules are comparatively unstable and sometimes highly reactive. Thus from this, and many other evidences against silicon, carbon is found to be the only element from which life in this universe may be built. Carbon and other 'heavy' elements also provides one, of several, reasons why the universe must be as old and as large as it is. 'Heavy' elements did not form in the Big Bang. Thus, they had to be synthesized in stars and exploded into space before they were available to form a planet on which carbon-based life could exist. Carbon is the first of the 'heavy' elements that is exclusively formed in the interiors of stars. All the elements below carbon were exclusively, or semi-exclusively, formed within the Big Bang of the universe. The delicate balance at which carbon is synthesized in stars is truly a work of art. Fred Hoyle (1915-2001), a famed astrophysicist, is the scientist who established the nucleo-synthesis of heavier elements within stars as mathematically valid in 1946. Years after Sir Fred discovered the stunning precision with which carbon is synthesized in stars he stated:From 1953 onward, Willy Fowler and I have always been intrigued by the remarkable relation of the 7.65 MeV energy level in the nucleus of 12 C to the 7.12 MeV level in 16 O. If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix, and your fixing would have to be just where these levels are actually found to be. Another put-up job? ... I am inclined to think so. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has “monkeyed” with the physics as well as the chemistry and biology, and there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. -Sir Fred Hoyle, Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 20 (1982): 16.Sir Fred also stated:I do not believe that any physicist who examined the evidence could fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce within stars.Sir Fred Hoyle - "The Universe: Past and Present Reflections." Engineering and Science, November, 1981. pp. 8–12