Great Debates in Astronomy (HET616)

"The physical laws and constants of our Universe are special" Debate (Against)

That the laws and constants of our Universe are special is a common piece of dogma. The affirmative team will contend that the position is not dogma, but is instead supported by weighty evidence and learned thinking. That position, we on the negative side know, is fundamentally flawed and easily disassembled. In order to get at the core of the argument we will address the three keys areas of the statement:

  • the meaning of special,
  • "constants", and
  • the "laws" in which they appear.

The physical laws and constants of our Universe are special Debate PDF

Formation of the Moon

The question of how the Moon came to be has probably been pondered since prehistoric times. The origin of Earth, Moon, and the heavens is the subject of many creation myths. Egyptian mythology endows the Moon, as the deity Thoth, with the role of arbiter between the gods. Thoth came to be associated with wisdom and, appropriately, astronomy. Greek mythology associates the Titanian goddess Selene with the Moon and the ancient Roman culture associated Selene with the god Luna from their pantheon. Both cultures leave us with modern astronomical terms used in conjunction with the Moon, such as lunar or selenology (study of the origin of the Moon). While the ancients did come to grips with the nature of the Moon’s motions, the existence of the Moon was largely taken as a divine creation. Such thinking persists today in religious circles.

Until the European Renaissance the origin of the heavens remained a divine topic. With the emergence of new tools, thinking, and processes, explanation of the Earth and Moon’s origin became a more scientific pursuit. The subsequent explosion of science lead to a series of lunar origin hypotheses that are the topic of the following discussion.
Formation of the Moon Project PDF