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Discovery Magazine 11/1/2016

What Is Space?


Orion Nebula

Have you ever thought about what space is? When we think about space, we tend to think about stars, planets, galaxies, comets, moons, asteroids, etc.—the things out there that either reflect or generate light so that we can see them. But what about all of the dark area between those objects? Scientists estimate that area makes up 96% of the whole Universe. That means that most of the Universe is space! Is there anything in that space? Is it completely empty?

First of all, outer space starts when you are only about 60 miles above the surface of the Earth. So, if you were driving up the “sky highway” at 60 mph, you would reach space in only one hour. Beyond that, you can no longer breathe, because there are not enough of the gases in the air that your lungs need. Also, we know that when sunlight hits those gases, it scatters and makes the sky look blue. Because those gases are not in outer space, outer space is black.

Sound can only travel through stuff that is made of molecules—like gases (in the air), solids (like wood), and liquids (like water). When we use our voices to talk to others, the sounds we make vibrate the molecules that are in the air in and around our mouths, which vibrate other molecules, which vibrate other molecules, and so forth, until vibrating molecules reach someone else’s ears so that we can be heard. Since molecules, like those that make up gases, are few and far between in space, sound does not carry in space. In other words, you could float right next to your best friend in space yelling at the top of your lungs, and he or she would not hear you, because there would not be enough molecules between you to carry the sound. Because there are so few molecules in space, we call it a vacuum. Space is not empty though, because it still has energy in it and because there are gases, dust, and other stuff floating around—but their molecules are very spread out.

Supernova Exlosion Aurora Borealis

There are other things in space that we cannot see with our eyes, such as solar wind—stuff that comes off the Sun and flies through space. We can see the effects of solar wind, called auroras, near the Earth’s poles. Cosmic rays also exist in space: particles which scientists believe come from exploding stars (called supernovas). There is also a type of radiation which seems to fill the Universe, called the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMB), which causes the space throughout the whole Universe to be about the same temperature (2.7 Kelvin or -270.45 Celsius). The existence of the CMB is a problem for the Big Bang Theory to explain, but creationists have developed theories which can explain the existence of the CMB from a biblical point of view.

Milky Way

Genesis chapter one tells us that God not only created Earth, the Sun, Moon, and other heavenly bodies—He created space (“the heavens”) as well. Space is not “nothing.” It had to be created, along with everything else in the Universe. There had to be space made for the stars to be placed in. The scientific evidence from the Universe tells us that nothing can create itself from nothing (which is called the First Law of Thermodynamics). So, the Universe—including space—had to be created by Someone outside of the Universe. “For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens” (1 Chronicles 16:26). He clothes “the heavens with blackness” (Isaiah 50:3). We thank God that even though one day “the heavens will vanish away like smoke,” God’s “salvation will be forever” (Isaiah 51:6).

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