Regular readers will remember the dismay that creationists who trot out the 'Goldilocks' argument for intelligent design displayed when it was discovered that yet another body in the solar system may have abundant water.
The problem they have is that they have to convince those to whom they are selling the notion of Intelligent Design that Earth is unique in just about everything that affects life on it - so water on Earth has to be presented as something hugely unlikely, just as Earth's distance from the sun has to be.
Maybe it's just my perception but it seems to me that creationists are not using this argument so frequently today as part of their 'fine tuned Universe' argument since rational people began pointing out that their argument is actually an argument against an omnipotent god because the 'parameters' of the Universe would be irrelevant to such a god which would be capable of creating life in any circumstances and no matter what those 'parameters' happened to be. Never-the-less there still seem to be some who haven't grasped the significance of that and who still trot out the 'Goldilocks' argument.
Anyway, as I pointed out then, it's beginning to look like water is abundant in the solar system.
As if to prove me right, along comes a piece of research by a team from the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics which shows that water could even have been abundant in the early Universe:
How soon after the Big Bang could water have existed? Not right away, because water molecules contain oxygen and oxygen had to be formed in the first stars. Then that oxygen had to disperse and unite with hydrogen in significant amounts. New theoretical work finds that despite these complications, water vapor could have been just as abundant in pockets of space a billion years after the Big Bang as it is today.
"We looked at the chemistry within young molecular clouds containing a thousand times less oxygen than our Sun. To our surprise, we found we can get as much water vapor as we see in our own galaxy," says astrophysicist Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).
The early universe lacked elements heavier than hydrogen and helium. The first generation of stars are believed to have been massive and short-lived. Those stars generated elements like oxygen, which then spread outward via stellar winds and supernova explosions. This resulted in "islands" of gas enriched in heavy elements. Even these islands, however, were much poorer in oxygen than gas within the Milky Way today.
So, water on Earth is not unique - it's not even unusual for a body in the solar system - and now it seems that water was abundant in gas clouds throughout the young Universe, so we should expect it to be commonplace in almost any planetary system. And that raises that terrifying creationist spectre of life itself being abundant throughout the Universe.
Another (un)intelligent design argument bites the dust, or with so much water sloshing about, maybe that should be flounders in the mud.
Back to the drawing board, lads. Nice try but you forgot about the science again.
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