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Earth-Sun distance

  1. Dec 23, 2014 #1
    I was wondering if these distances is perfect to allow life here on Earth. I have did some research on the forum and am ware that the distance changes throughout history but not much. Today Earth has a eccentricity of .0167. If Earth's distant is perfect it should be at 0. Is it safe to say the distant is still perfect? Reason why I brought this up is because there is a well known quote that was attributed by Isaac Newton. In this quote it states:

    "Atheism is so senseless. When I look at the solar system, I see the Earth at the right distance from the Sun to receive proper amounts of heat and light. This did not happen by chance."

    Could it be that Newton was right back then? Or was he in error? I'm not a scientist but this would be an interesting discussion.

    Btw, I'm not here to start an argument. I'm just pasting the quote to see if there's any validity to it. ;)
     
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  3. Dec 23, 2014 #2

    phinds

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    He was wrong. It happened by chance. If you bring up any religious arguments that say he was right, this thread will be locked and without religious arguments there ARE no arguments to say he was right.
     
  4. Dec 23, 2014 #3

    davenn

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    Hi
    welcome to PF :)

    if you want to know more about the good distance of a planet to be from the sun to support life

    google "The Goldilocks Zone"

    keep religion out of any discussions per PF rules :)

    cheers
    Dave
     
  5. Dec 23, 2014 #4
    I see. lol.
     
  6. Dec 23, 2014 #5
    Thanks Davenn. But our moon is also in the the "Goldilocks Zone" is it not? Yet it doesn't support life. Can you explain this?
     
  7. Dec 23, 2014 #6

    russ_watters

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    What does Earth have that the moon doesn't and why?
     
  8. Dec 23, 2014 #7

    davenn

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    Russ, You answered whilst I was still typing
    You had the better approach rather than just giving answers as I did

    OK deleted my answers and hopefully the OP didn't read too much of it
     
  9. Dec 23, 2014 #8
    Russ, in short there are differences such as water and atmosphere. The moon does not have that. My point was that it doesn't have to be in the Habitable Zone.
     
  10. Dec 23, 2014 #9

    davenn

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    you didn't fully answer Russ's Q
    and what I quoted of your comment is a contradiction of the already established habitable zone comments
    so, why did you say that ?

    Dave
     
  11. Dec 23, 2014 #10

    russ_watters

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    No worries.
     
  12. Dec 23, 2014 #11

    russ_watters

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    Good start. Prodding a little more (and amplifying davenn's comment...) what about water and/or an atmosphere might require a planet to be in the Habitable Zone?

    Though, no, it isn't necessarily an absolute requirement, but it is a pretty solid one. There are a few other candidates for life elsewhere in our solar system, but they aren't great and the life we may find isn't likely to be very complex.
     
  13. Dec 23, 2014 #12

    marcus

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    It happens that the Earth is 80 times more massive than the moon, so it has stronger gravity and is able to hold onto much of its atmosphere and water without having them evaporate off into space.

    It's fairly common for planets to be quite a bit more massive than their satellites, i.e. their moons.

    Ooops, I see Russ was already pursuing that line of thought with you, Star28. Maybe I should erase this and retire from the discussion :w
     
  14. Dec 23, 2014 #13

    davenn

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    Those were some of the answers I wrote, but deleted them cuz Russ and I wanted the OP to discover them :)

    edit: no probs
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2014
  15. Dec 23, 2014 #14

    marcus

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    You get the credit! Clumsy of me to interrupt when Russ was engaging in Socratic dialog, but by now it would be even clumsier to go back and delete, so I'll just let things be.
     
  16. Dec 24, 2014 #15

    Nugatory

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    14 posts into this thread and no one has mentioned that this quote is bogus? Newton said no such thing.
     
  17. Dec 24, 2014 #16

    davenn

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    LOL I didn't read close enough to realise he was trying to quote Newton ;)
     
  18. Dec 24, 2014 #17

    phinds

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    HA ! He was a religious guy so it didn't even occur to me that the quote might be bogus, I was so focused on how wrong the statement is.

    Good catch !
     
  19. Dec 24, 2014 #18
    Isn't the modern answer to this kind of question to invoke the anthropomorphic viewpoint?
    Something like...
    We observe these specific conditions conducive to supporting life... because we are alive and require those conditions... in order to be here alive to make these observations... all living creatures will notice that their conditions support what they need to be alive and take notice of these conditions... places that don't support life don't have life to observe the conditions that don't support them.
     
  20. Jan 2, 2015 #19

    BobG

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    Literally true.

    However, Newton did say (in separate quotes):

    "This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent Being. [...] This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called "Lord God", or "Universal Ruler". [...] The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, [and] absolutely perfect." (This being three separate sentences from his Principia pulled out of context and grouped together.)

    and...

    "Tis inconceivable that inanimate brute matter should (without the mediation of something else which is not material) operate upon & affect other matter without mutual contact." (from a letter to a colleague)

    Newton may be more famous for developing a formula to calculate the force of gravity (and acceleration due to gravity), but he also had some thoughts about why gravity existed.

    The op's quote, while bogus, does pretty much express Newton's views.

    And I'd say Newton was more spiritual than religious - at least if you're talking about your standard organized religions. He not only believed in a creator, but a creator that would step in from time to time to adjust the universe (as a whole; not a creator that involved himself in minute details such as an individual person). But his views definitely didn't fit either the Protestant or the Catholic religious views (they probably would not have been incompatible with the Unitarian church, but few views are).

    Not that Newton's religious beliefs are very relevant. One can make real observations about the universe and speculate as to why it exists without either seriously hampering the other (unless your religious beliefs require a very literal translation of your religious books).

    Newton's religious or spiritual views give insight into him, as a person. And as valuable as Newton's work on motion, gravity, and optics were, he had some rather bizarre views and practices (such as his work in alchemy, not to mention the poorly thought out experiment where he stared directly at the Sun for two or three hours). He was definitely a very interesting person.
     
  21. Jan 2, 2015 #20
    I think that Newton was wrong by saying that, the positioning of the planets in the solar nebula was completely by chance, as can be seen with other planets in other star systems. As you can see in other star systems some rare planets have been in the Goldilocks zone and most have been in uninhabitable distances. It is all by chance where the planets form and whether they are habitable like Earth
     
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