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The Creation Explanation

Creation Explanation Design in the Universe

The Nucleus of the Atom3

The nucleus of the atom is roughly only 1/50,000 the size of the whole atom, yet it contains a number of protons equal to the number of electrons which are spread out in the outer electron cloud portion of the atom, plus a roughly equal or greater number of neutrons. These particles are packed into the nucleus with an astounding density of around 3.7 billion tons per cubic inch! Surely there must be a pattern for the arrangement and energies of these particles in the nucleus, and such is indeed the case.

The matter is too intricate to discuss here, but briefly stated, the neutrons and protons are arranged in the nucleus and move in energy levels or "shells" in a manner analogous to the electrons in the outer electron shells of the atom. The complex mathematical description of the structure of the nucleus of the atom has achieved striking success in relating the design of different atomic nuclei to their actual physical properties. Thus design and plan is discovered in the tiny nucleus at the center of the submicroscopic atom.

table 6-3. The Four Forces (Interactions) in a Nucleus

force nature in nucleus average relative strength in nucleus
Nuclear strong Attractive 1039 (i.e., 1 followed by 39 zeros)
Electromagnetic Repulsive 1036
Nuclear weak Repulsive (probably) 1022
Gravitational Attractive 1

Yet there is more! In the process of blasting apart atomic nuclei to learn their secrets, scientists have discovered many different types of tiny particles and various energy states of these particles which are apparently involved in holding the nucleus together by lmediating the interactions between protons and neutrons. The dozens of particles and particle energy states exhibit a bewildering variety of different properties. Once again physicists have worked to discover a pattern which relates all of these observations into a rational system. As the power of the giant particle accelerators used to probe atomic nuclei increased, it finally became possible to probe into the internal structure of protons themselves. The eidence is now considered overwhelming that protons and other heavy particles are made up of more fundamental particles called "quarks." The proton and neutron, for example, are each composed ot three quarks. It appears that there are a number of different types of quarks, which are distinguished rather whimsically lin terms of three different "colors," called "red," "green," and "violet," and other properties denoted by the terms "up," "down," "strangeness," "charm," "bottom," and perhaps "top." In this theory the fundamental unit of electrical charge is carried by quarks and is equal to 1/3 and 2/3 of an electron charge. Considerable support for this theory is derived from experimental evidence as well as from the beautifully consistent structure and marvelous success of quantum electrodynamics. Nevertheless, quarks have never been directly observed. To this date their existence continues to be an inference.

In recent decades more and more comprehensive theories relating all of these particles and their interactions into a pattern have evolved. But the question always remains, Is there even finer structure within these parrticles? Another question is whether or not quarks will ever be observed or if they have real existence. As Dr. Sidney Drell of Stanford Linear Accelerator Center complained, "It's just not satisfactory to have fundamental things you can't see or isolate. In a sense it's a step back to pre-Copernican times, before people insisted on seeing what they were talking about."4

Physicists have been driven on in their search for this pattern of subatomic parrticles which make up matter by the conviction that there is, indeed, a comkplete pattern to be discovered which underlies all of physical reality. Most scientists apparently do not ask where the order and patterns they are discovering comes from. Believers in creation are not surprised, for they find it entirely reasonable that a created universe should be ordered, patterned, lawful, from the heat of the atom to the outer reaches of space-time.

In Chapter-2 we were introduced to four kinds of intraction or forces between units of matter: gravitational, electromagnetic, strong nuclear, and weak nuclear. Table 6-7 compares these forces, giving their relative effect in the nucleus, and Table 6-3 gives the masses of the three particles of which atoms are constructed, the electron, proton and neutron. A most striking evidence for intelligent, purposeful design in nature is the fact that if the nuclear strong and weak forces and the magnetic force were not in the correct proportions, atoms could not exist. For example, a neutron is unstable in free space where its half-life is only about 12 minutes. It decays to a proton plus and electron, energy, and a neutrino. Table 6-3 indicates that the mass of a neutron exceeds the sum of the masses of a proton and an electron by about In the atomic nucleus, however, the nuclear strong force so exceeds the weak force (which has to do with the decay of the neutron) that the effect in the nucleus of the weak force is overcome. Consequently, the life of neutrons in atomic nuclei is vastly extended, except for those nuclei in which the excess mass corresponding to excess energy causes the nuclei to be instable and therefore radioactive.

These four kinds of force are the means by which all of the design and patterns in the universe are maintained. What is the source of these organizing influences without which the physical universe would be only formless chaos? The nuclear scientists and the astronomer can describe the effects of these forces but cannot discover their source by scientific methods of inquiry. Thus, in the creation discover their source by scientific methods of inquiry. Thus, in the creation perspective, when nuclear physicists search out the patterns of particles and forces responsible for the orderly properties and reactions of all matter, they are viewing at the most basic physical level the evidence that all things in the physical universe are the product of intelligent, purposeful design.



3. Ibid., pp. 432-472.

4. Quoted in Waldrop, Mitch, Chemical Engineering News, 21 Jan. 1980, p. 52.

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