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Science and Spirituality

Discovering the Creation of the Universe and the Divine: Interview with Dr. Alan Lightman, Part 2 of 3

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On today’s program, Dr. Lightman tells us more about the origin of the universe, and why certain planets, such as Earth, have the perfect conditions to support life as we know it. “There are two possible explanations for that. One is that the universe was created by some intelligence, some Intelligent Being that wanted the universe to have life in it, and therefore chose these parameters such as the strength of the nuclear force and the amount of dark energy to have the right value to allow stars to form, to allow complex atoms to form, to allow the Earth to form and other planets to allow life to form. That’s one explanation. The other explanation is called the ‘Multiverse.’ And that is the idea that, in addition to our universe, there are many, many other universes with different properties. Some of them have a nuclear force, which is much weaker than the nuclear force in our universe. Some of them have a nuclear force which is much stronger than the nuclear force in our universe and so on. And that, in most of those other universes, life cannot start. But in some of them, the conditions are right for life. And we happen to live in one of the universes in which the conditions are right for life.” “We can’t conceive of any life that does not involve atoms. And you need stars to make atoms. All of the atoms in our bodies, except the lightest atoms, hydrogen, all of those atoms, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, iron, all of those atoms in our bodies were actually made in stars, which is an incredible thought.” “Because what stars do, is they take the lightest atoms, hydrogen, which were there from the Big Bang, and they fuse them together to make larger atoms, like carbon and oxygen. And then some of those stars explode, and those atoms are spewed out into space. And eventually they start drawing together and coalescing to form a solar system, which forms oceans and air and soil and eventually living creatures. So, all of the atoms in our bodies except for hydrogen were made at the center of stars. We do think that atoms are necessary for life, even life very, very different from our own life. And therefore, we need the right conditions in a universe to make stars.”
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