Lightning and Hydroxyl Radicals

Lightning and Hydroxyl Radicals

Lightning and hydroxyl radicals are among the lesser-known agents that clean our atmosphere. Hydroxyl radicals are composed of a single oxygen atom combined with a hydrogen atom. Since the valence of these two atoms is minus two and plus one, respectively, the combined charge is minus one. That means that the OH- radical will attach itself to any plus-charged atom or molecule. Numerous molecules in our atmosphere offer a positive charge, such as carbon monoxide and methane. Also, many organic compounds have loosely held hydrogen atoms. When the hydroxyl radical attaches itself to another hydrogen atom, the product is water.

Even if you don’t understand all of the chemistry involved here, it should be evident that the materials the hydroxyl radicals attach themselves to are common atmospheric pollutants. Hydroxyl is an air cleaning compound designed to remove natural contaminants and human-caused pollution as well. In typical situations, the concentration of hydroxyl radicals is a few ppt (parts per trillion). Keeping our atmosphere free of damaging pollutants requires much more than that.

Recent discoveries have shown that lightning produces significant numbers of hydroxyls. In 2012, a NASA jet flying through storm clouds over Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas detected hydroxyl concentrations of thousands of ppt. Electricity from lightning can produce enough hydroxyl radicals to keep our air clean of any natural pollutants and help to reduce human-caused pollution.

We have said before that lightning takes nitrogen from the atmosphere and produces nitrates that provide essential nutrients for plants. Now we know that lightning is also indispensable as an air cleaning tool. With lightning and hydroxyl radicals, God has designed a tool that not only allows plants to provide our food but also cleans our air.

John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Science News for June 5, 2021, page 13, and ScienceDirect.com

Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere

Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere

June 20, 2021, was the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the longest period of sunlight of any day this year. Now that we have passed the summer solstice, the days are getting shorter. That raises the question of why the summer solstice is not the hottest day of the year since the Sun is up for the longest time. The answer to that is simple. It’s because every day until September’s fall equinox has more hours of sunlight than darkness, and there is a heat lag. It takes a long time for Earth to heat up after winter, so normally the hottest day is well after the summer solstice.

A more important point is why the summer solstice happens and how it is critical to life on planet Earth. The cause of the solstice and the equinox is that Earth is tilted on its axis by 23 ½ degrees. As it orbits the Sun, that tilt causes every point on Earth to experience different amounts of Sun each day and controls the angles at which the Sun’s rays hit Earth’s surface. On the equinox, the Sun is directly overhead at the equator. At noon, the Sun would shine down to the bottom of a well on the equator. Every other latitude on the planet would have the Sun’s rays hitting Earth’s surface at an angle that is not perpendicular.

As Earth revolves around the Sun, it is essentially a giant gyroscope with the poles always pointed in the same direction. It isn’t until the solstices that the Sun would shine right down a well at its northern or southern position, and that happens to be 23 ½ degrees north or south latitude. So why is that important?

If Earth did not have the axis tilt, we would not have the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. The Sun would always be directly overhead at the equator all the time. Land near the equator would be so hot that life could not exist there. Areas to the north and south would be extremely cold. The temperature differences would create extreme winds, making life difficult. When scientists ran computer simulations, they found that 23 ½ degrees is ideal for minimizing overheating and cooling.

Earth also has a heat sink designed into it—the oceans. Most of the southern hemisphere is covered with water, while the northern hemisphere has more land. Since Earth’s orbit is an ellipse rather than a perfect circle, the southern oceans absorb much of the heat when Earth is closest to the Sun. It just happens that Earth is closest to the Sun when the Southern Hemisphere is in the summer season. It seems like it was planned that way.

We are thankful that we had the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. The Earth’s tilt, spin, and distribution of land and water are not accidents. They are designed features of our planet that speak of God’s wisdom and planning in the creation.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

First Solar Eclipse of 2021

First Solar Eclipse of 2021

On the morning of June 10, 2021, the Sun will rise as a crescent in areas of the far northern United States and southern Canada. That will include the upper peninsula of Michigan, northern New York State, New England, and southern Quebec and Ontario. It’s the beginning of the first solar eclipse of 2021.

Solar eclipses happen when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth. This will not be a total eclipse because the Moon will not completely cover the Sun. It’s called an annular or “ring of fire” eclipse. Total solar eclipses happen when the Moon completely blocks the Sun from view, as we saw in 2017. Because the Moon’s orbit is elliptical, it is not always the same distance from Earth. This time, it’s too far away for its shadow to cover the Sun.

When the eclipse reaches its peak, there will be a ring of light from the Sun visible all the way around the Moon’s shadow. Unfortunately, that ring of fire will not be visible anywhere in the United States. The full annular eclipse will only be visible in a narrow path across northern Canada, parts of Greenland, and northeastern Russia. A partial eclipse will be visible from a much wider area, including much of North America, Asia, and Europe. If you are attempting to view any solar eclipse, do not look directly at the Sun without special eye protection similar to welding glass. Ordinary sunglasses will not do. Some websites give instructions for building a simple pinhole viewer.

If you miss the first solar eclipse of 2021, you might be interested to know you will probably miss the next one. It will be a total eclipse on December 4, visible in Antarctica. Don’t despair. There will be more in the coming years. You can also safely watch the eclipse live on the websites listed below. We can accurately predict solar and lunar eclipses years in advance because of the excellent engineering design God has put into our solar system.

— Roland Earnst © 2021

You can view the eclipse live on the Date and Time website and the Virtual Telescope Project.

Unidentified Aerial Phenomena or UFOs

Unidentified Aerial Phenomena or UFO

Apparently, the media are running out of things to talk about, so they have resurrected the claims of alien visitation to Earth. In June, U.S. intelligence agencies are supposed to release a report detailing what the government knows about Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP). Former CIA director John Brennan has stated that there have been scores of credible sightings of UAPs or UFOs that “may be piloted by a different form of life.” We have repeatedly pointed out that this is not a biblical issue. The Bible does not say that Earth is the only place where God created life.

The attention this matter is getting indicates several things about the United States today. First, the media will jump to any conclusion, no matter how bizarre it is, to get attention. Secondly, people who have rejected God and the Bible have to find some other answer to the mysteries of life, and alien intelligence has always been one of them.

UFO simply means we are too ignorant to know what we are looking at. It doesn’t make any difference if you call it Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. The number of possibilities that do not involve alien spacecraft is vast. Many UFO sightings are simply reflections off of the cockpit or window of the observer’s vehicle. Also, being in an unfamiliar environment can cause people to misinterpret what they see.

Once when I was working in Canada, a group of people claimed that a ghost was haunting a woods nearby. One night, several of us camped out in that woods. At about 2 a.m., we saw a ghost, complete with an open mouth and two eyes. It glowed a greenish-yellow color and then vanished. One of the native Canadians in the group laughed because he knew what we were seeing. The aurora borealis (northern lights) were flickering wildly in a solar maximum, and the ultraviolet radiation caused bioluminescence in a dead tree. In broad daylight, we could see that, but at night, with our imaginations running wild, it looked totally different.

Atmospheric refraction or reflection off high clouds can make city lights visible many miles from the city. Earthquakes generate radiation, and some of it is in the visible spectrum. Weather balloons, flares, test aircraft, cloud reflections, satellites, planes, or drones can all become Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. With this new report, we will see a barrage of headlines from conspiracy advocates, tabloid writers, and psychics. In truth, it is more likely that the number of actual mystery objects will be very small. Jesus Christ has answers to the real struggles in life, but E.T. does not.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: The Week magazine for May 28, 2021, page 17.

Space Spacing and Design

Space Spacing and Design

One of the arguments we make in our discussion of cosmology is that Earth’s design is unique. There are so many variables that must be “just right” for our planet to exist that suggesting it is a result of chance is statistically impossible to believe. We are not just thinking about the conditions of planet Earth, although that alone would be convincing. The more we learn about outer space by using the excellent new tools available to researchers, the more we see that our star is unique. Our Sun is a G-2 spectral star, which means its length of life, stability, radiation, and size are all critical. Now, as we examine space spacing, we know its location in space is critical as well.

The nearest star to our solar system is 4.3 light-years away. That means it takes light from that star 4.3 years to get to us. At that distance, the effect on us from whatever happens on that star is minuscule, so we are not at risk. Imagine a cube of space three light-years on each side. Now imagine putting 100 stars in that cube. A group of stars called the Great Globular Cluster in the constellation Hercules has that stellar density at its core. The total cluster is 150 light-years in diameter, and it has hundreds of thousands of stars.

We hear media presentations that say there are 100 billion stars in our Milky Way galaxy. They suggest that with so many stars, and many of them having planets, our Earth must be just one of many inhabited planets in the galaxy. The reality is that most of those stars could not sustain a planet with life because they are too hot or too cold or too large or too small. We must also consider space spacing, meaning that their location relative to other stars is also a factor. No one would look for a life-bearing planet in M13, the Great Globular Cluster. If you would like to see a picture of it, just click HERE.

The Psalmist wrote in Psalms 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” The word “glory” in Hebrew is “kabod,” which the lexicon says can be translated as “heaviness,” which we can understand to mean beyond mortal reach. That was true to the ancients in biblical times who, with no light pollution, could lie awake on a clear night and see a patch of light and wonder what it was.

In 1716, Edmond Halley noted that patch in his observations. Now we clearly see what it is, and it shows God’s wisdom and power in remarkable new ways. Even space spacing shows wisdom of design. We live in an exciting time when new tools give us more and more views of what is in the heavens astounding us at God’s “heaviness.”

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Story of Earth’s History and Life

Chicxulub Story of Earth's History and Life

In the Yucatan Peninsula and the Gulf of Mexico, the Chicxulub Crater tells a story of Earth’s history and life. The fundamental assumption of neo-Darwinism is that the only processes operating on Earth in the past are processes going on today. This principle, called uniformitarianism, doesn’t work if there have been radical changes on Earth in the past. A catastrophe that wiped out all life would mean that life would have to start over again. Evolutionists have devised elaborated theories to dance around this issue, such as Stephen Jay Gould’s punctuated equilibrium.

A study released in the journal Science Advances on February 24, 2021, involves an exhaustive study of the Chicxulub Crater. This crater is 125 miles (201 km) wide and dates back to the time of the dinosaurs. Many scientists suggested that an asteroid collision produced the crater. Evolutionists resisted that explanation because of the catastrophic effect it would have, and certainly, it is not happening today.

In 2016, researchers took drill cores at Chicxulub to a depth of 2600 feet (792 m). Analysis of the cores has now produced an iron-clad case that an asteroid collision created the Chicxulub Crater. Iridium is an element found in most asteroids, and scientists found massive amounts of it in the center of the crater, with decreasing amounts as one moves away from the center.

In addition to the drill core at Chicxulub, scientists have found iridium in geologic layers worldwide. That indicates tiny fragments of the asteroid were blown into the atmosphere in large quantities blocking the Sun’s light for several years, or even decades. Independent studies have shown that Earth’s surface temperatures dropped by as much as 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 C), meaning that any dinosaur could not have survived.

This research tells a story of Earth’s history and life that we suggest shows how God was preparing the planet for human life to exist. Suggesting that humans and dinosaurs could have lived together indicates ignorance of the nature of life in the age of the dinosaurs. Not only was Earth’s surface temperature high, allowing massive deposits of coal and other resources for later humans, but the dinosaurs were not a form of life that humans could survive alongside. Evidence shows that T. rex hunted in packs. (See The Week, May 7, 2021, page 24.) The notion that a T. rex could have been a family pet that children could ride, as some religious groups have proposed, is ludicrous.

This story of Earth’s history and life fits with Genesis 1:1, with God using natural processes to prepare planet Earth for humans. Not only is Chicxulub a problem for neo-Darwinism, but it provides more evidence for the integrity of the biblical record when it is taken literally and not twisted to support denominational teachings.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

References: Science Advances and Astronomy magazine

Alien Spacecrafts Coming to America

Alien Spacecrafts Coming to America - Starlink Mission
60 SpaceX Starlink satellites stacked on a Falcon 9 Rocket ready to be deployed into orbit

On May 5-7 of this year, people across the United States saw a train of lights in the night sky. Calls flooded TV and radio stations from Texas to Wisconsin as people claimed to see alien spacecrafts coming to America. Some of the stories got very imaginative as people started reporting contacts with the aliens and volunteering to leave Earth with them. This reminds us of the old saying, “If you don’t believe in something, you will believe anything.”

It seems that in this day, when many people are rejecting God, their only hope for a better existence is that aliens will come and straighten everything out. This has led to people jump to conclusions about whatever they see in the sky.

What the people saw was not alien spacecrafts coming to America. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has been launching constellations of what they call “Starlink satellites.” SpaceX has sent about 1500 satellites into orbit to bring internet access to underserved areas of the world. In the past month alone, SpaceX has launched dozens of satellites. You can identify them because they travel in the same orbit, one right after the other.

These satellites are becoming an issue for astronomers who are finding a great deal of light pollution from all this activity. There is even concern about how all these extra lights in the sky might affect nocturnal animals who use the stars for navigation.

As people imagine seeing alien spacecrafts coming to America, we remind you of what we have said many times. The possibility of life on other planets is not a biblical subject. If there is life out there, God created it. The willingness of people to believe in aliens from space while rejecting belief in God is pathetic. It is rooted in ignorance of the night sky and the size and distances involved in the cosmos.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Source: Associated Press by Claudia Lauer, 5/8/21.

Unique and Bizarre Planet Earth

Unique and Bizarre Planet Earth

“Planet Earth – Unique And Bizarre.” Those are the words used by Astronomy magazine (June 2021, page 21) to describe the results of studies of the planets within and beyond our solar system. Why is Earth a unique and bizarre planet?

We have four terrestrial planets in our solar system. In addition to Earth, they are Mercury, Venus, and Mars. Those planets have smaller masses than Earth, ranging from Mercury with 5.5% of Earth’s mass to Venus with 81.5%. They also have radically different atmospheres. Venus, which is closest to Earth’s size, has an atmosphere that is 96% carbon dioxide. Mars, roughly half of Earth’s size, is 95% carbon dioxide and 2.7% nitrogen. By contrast, Earth’s atmosphere has 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and less than .1% carbon dioxide.

NASA stationed an observation satellite at the Lagrange point between Earth and the Sun. That is the location where Earth’s gravity balances the Sun’s gravity. The satellite will remain stationary at roughly a million miles from Earth, gather data, and compare Earth data with information from other solar systems. It shows that Earth is the only planet we know of with abundant liquid water driving an active water cycle. 

Scientists believe life itself is responsible for much of the design of planet Earth. Earth’s vegetation has taken whatever carbon dioxide was in our atmosphere and turned it into oxygen. It is no coincidence that the Genesis account portrays plants as the first thing to appear after God created the dry land and seas. 

Another factor making Earth a unique and bizarre planet is the abundance of minerals. Earth has massive minerals of all kinds. Meteorites contain a very small number of minerals, and the Moon has more than the meteorites, but far less than Earth. The media tends to suggest that everything in space is like what we see on Earth, but the data that scientists are gathering shows that our planet is radically different. 

At the end of each day of the Genesis account, God said, “it is good” (Genesis 1:10,12, 18, 21, 25). The first chapter ends with God saying, “it is VERY good.” Over and over, the Psalms call our attention to how unique our planet is. “When I consider the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained; what is man, that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you visit him” (Psalms 8:3-4). Psalms 19:1 adds, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky shows his handiwork.” 

Our unique and bizarre planet was created by an Intelligence that shaped it into the one place that can support human life, not only in our solar system but perhaps in the entire creation.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Astronomy magazine

How Little We Know – The Pulsating Earth

How Little We Know - The Pulsating Earth

The May 2021 issue of Discover magazine (page 20) carries an interesting article about a mystery that scientists have been unable to solve. The mystery is why planet Earth pulsates every 26 seconds. Researchers at the Lamont Geological Observatory first reported the pulsation in 1960. After more than 60 years, nobody has formulated an accepted explanation of why this is happening. The point here is not Earth’s pulsations but how little we know about creation.

In time someone will probably find an acceptable explanation for Earth’s pulsations. My point is the nature of human knowledge. We are all amazed at what science has accomplished. We watch the helicopter fly on Mars. We see the COVID vaccine developed in less than a year when it usually took half a decade to build a vaccine. We are amazed by new fabrics and the products of genetic engineering.

The fact is how little we know. Human knowledge is still very primitive compared to all that we observe. We are still struggling to understand what caused gravity. We are only dimly aware of the quantum world and how it forms the material we see around us. Our understanding of the human mind is so incomplete that experts in the field of brain study say we still don’t understand what 95% of the brain does. Perhaps the most significant gap in the knowledge and beliefs of many of us is the question of why there is something instead of nothing.

What little we do understand puts us in awe of the power and intelligence of God. Dr. Frank Baxter used to say that everything he knew as a scientist taught him, “That a wonder-working hand has gone before.” In Proverbs 8:4-5, Wisdom says it another way: “To you, O men, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, gain understanding.” The Psalmist said it this way:” When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him (Psalms 8:3-4).

Every bit of knowledge we acquire reminds us of how little we know and raises more questions for us to investigate. This is a wonderful time to be alive when so many of the secrets of God’s creation are just being discovered.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: Discover magazine May 2021

Stop the Killing of Bees

Stop the Killing of Bees

There are many things that God has provided that we take for granted, and yet without them, we would not be able to live on planet Earth. One example is the common bee. The Earthjustice organization has been involved in trying to stop the killing of bees, and they gave some interesting statistics.

Bees fly an average of 55,000 miles (88,000 km) to produce one pound of honey. They can see colors that humans can’t see, and they communicate by dancing. Very importantly, it’s hard to realize that one-third of our food crops are dependent on bees. It takes 60,000 bees to pollinate one acre of an orchard, and without bees, we would have no almonds, apples, apricots, squash, and many other fruits and vegetables. An average hive contains about 30,000 bees.

One problem is that every year farmers apply over 5.6 billion pounds of pesticides to our country’s crops, and that is a factor in the decline of the bee population. The current alarm over the drop in the bee population is an excellent time to remember that God provided bees, not just for honey. They also sustain the food crops we need. That is why we must stop the killing of bees.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: EarthJustice website.