Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Death of Cosmology?

This interesting piece by Dave Mosher explains that because the expansion of the universe is accelerating, galaxies will eventually be running away from each other faster than the speed of light, rendering them invisible to us. Astronomers will no longer be able to observe anything beyond the tiny cluster of galaxies our solar system inhabits.
What can we conclude from this? Two things:
(1) As Mosher points out, there won't be much of a market for cosmologists in the distant future.
(2) We are even luckier than we thought.
In their book, The Privileged Planet, Guillermo Gonzales and Jay Richards march out fact after cosmological fact about the earth and it's location in the universe, assembling a forcible argument for some kind of divine design. This new discovery should be added to the muster sheet.
Suppose for a moment that there is no God. The emergence of life on earth, in such a universe, is not only mind-poppingly unlikely, but the timing of it is fantastically contingent. There isn't any reason I'm aware of that would have prevented life from emerging much earlier (at least sometime after planetary formation), or much, much later. It seems quite plausible that intelligent life could have arisen here (or somewhere else in our galaxy) several million years later than it did. And if it had, those hapless future-earthlings would have observed a seriously abridged version of the cosmos, severely limiting the possibilities for scientific discovery. Aren't you glad we arrived in time for the whole cosmic show?


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