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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Snowy Dirtballs



     Cruising happily through space in the Creation Museum planetarium show “Fires in the Sky,” learning all sorts of things about comets, I tripped over a bit of bad interstellar grammar. The narrator told us that a photo showed “the nuclei of Halley’s comet.” Um, that’s nucleus. I don’t suppose most people notice or care, but to me, it’s a screech of static that nudges me out of my educational reverie. Providentially, the program was good enough to pull me back.
     Three-D graphics showing how the long elliptical orbits of comets intersect with our solar system are fascinating. Coming close to a planet can put a wobble in a comet’s orbit and either lengthen or shorten it. A comet’s ball of ice and dust is only a mile (or up to nine) across, but when the sun warms it, it can send out a tail of particles a million miles long. Solar radiation ionizes it and makes it glow.
     Comets create problems for old-earth believers, because every time they pass the sun, they lose a bit of volume. No way can they have been doing this for the posited zillions of years since the posited Big Bang. So a fellow named Oord imagined the Oord Cloud, a sort of nursery for comets which pops new ones out to replace the casualties. No one could find it or prove it exists. So a fellow named Kuiper imagined the Kuiper Belt, out beyond Neptune, nurturing "snowy dirtballs" until they are ready to pop into orbit around the sun. Nobody can prove it.
     One of the video monitors in the museum shows a snippet of an interview with a California Ph.D. evolutionist who says the problem with creationists is that they have no imagination. And the prize for lack of self-awareness goes to…

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