Category Archives: Nature & Space

The Master Engineer

Alexey Kljatov - snowflake

It is a moment that comes at different times and different places for different people.

Sometimes it broadsides us, and sometimes it just quickly sneaks up on us in our dreams.

Sometimes it comes to us as children, and sometimes it comes to us as old men and women.

Sometimes it unfolds in our reason, but it just as often blossoms in our emotions.

Sometimes it sears our mind, but sometimes it pierces our heart.

Once you see the Father all human opposition to Him vanishes.

All the paradoxes evaporate, all the silly philosophical constructions come crumbling down. The pain, anger, fear, disillusionment, and unbelief withers. All the evasions and deflections just drift away in the wind like a ripped spider web.

All the strange things you (and other men like you) thought were impossible claims and fairy tales…

stand before you as bright as the sun…

And you realize “…the powers of heaven are not the subject of our fables—we are.”

Then, all the very best conversations begin.

Father and sons, Father and daughters.

Once you are in “the Father’s hand”… nothing and no one can ever trick you back down to the small, broken, bored, featureless life you left behind.

“Come you, blessed of the Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of world.”

And it was good.

Earth, an Extraordinary Magnet for Life

earth magnetic field

We might take it for granted, but our planet’s magnetic field is no sure thing. A just-published research paper by three Australian astronomers shows that a strong, long-lasting magnetic field is essential for the survival of advanced life and that such magnetic fields must be extremely rare among rocky extrasolar planets.1

Magnetic Field Benefits 

Earth has sustained a strong magnetic dipole (North and South Pole) moment for at least the past four billion years of its history. Such has not been the case for Earth’s companion rocky planets: Mars, Venus, and Mercury. Mars and Venus possess no measurable internal magnetic field and no magnetosphere. Mercury’s magnetic field is only 1 percent the strength of Earth’s magnetic field. Its magnetospheric cavity is 20 times smaller than Earth’s. Furthermore, Mercury’s magnetic field is often extremely leaky.2

Earth’s magnetosphere deflects charged particles in the solar wind away from Earth (see figure 1). It also acts as a protective bubble shielding life on Earth from both deadly solar and cosmic radiation.

blog__inline--earth-an-extraordinary-magent-for-life

Figure 1: Earth’s Magnetosphere. Exposure to deadly radiation occurs beyond the outer red lines. 

Earth’s magnetosphere not only protects Earth’s life from deadly radiation, but also prevents solar particles from sputtering away much of Earth’s atmosphere. It is particularly critical for maintaining liquid water on Earth’s surface. Without that liquid water, life cannot survive on Earth.

Exoplanet Magnetic Fields

Since a strong, long-lasting magnetic dipole moment is so critically important for life, and especially for advanced life, the astronomical team set out to determine just how likely it is that Earth-like planets outside the solar system will possess such a magnetic dipole moment. They used a mathematical model developed by physicists Peter Olson and Ulrich Christensen3 to estimate magnetic dipole moments for all known rocky exoplanets. The researchers assumed that these exoplanets had convection-driven planetary dynamos and then modeled the maximum possible magnetic dipole moments for each of these exoplanets. Given these parameters, they found that half of the rocky exoplanets—at distances from their host stars where liquid water could conceivably exist on their surfaces—had negligible magnetic dipole moments.

Only one of the exoplanets, Kepler 186f (see figure 2 below), could possibly have a magnetic dipole moment as large or larger than Earth’s. Kepler 186f was the first discovered planet with a diameter roughly similar to Earth’s orbiting another star at a distance where liquid water could conceivably exist on its surface.

blog__inline--earth-an-extraordinary-magent-for-life-2

Figure 2: Artist’s Conception of the Kepler 186 System. Kepler 186f is in the foreground. The host star Kepler 186 is the bright dot at lower left. The other four known planets of Kepler 186 all orbit Kepler 186 closer than does Kepler 186f. 

However, Kepler 186f is not a candidate for hosting life. It orbits an M-type star with a mass = 0.54 times the Sun’s mass and a luminosity = 0.05 times the Sun’s luminosity. M-type stars, unlike stars as massive as the Sun, spew out frequent deadly flares.

Because Kepler 186f orbits such a dim star, its surface temperature in the absence of an atmosphere containing abundant greenhouse gases is only -85°C (-121°F), which would make it a little colder than Mars. For Kepler 186f to possibly possess liquid water on its surface, it would need to have an abundance of carbon dioxide in its atmosphere at least 1,300 times greater (if accompanied by 10 times as much nitrogen as Earth’s atmosphere presently possesses), and at least 13,000 times greater (if accompanied by negligible nitrogen in its atmosphere), than what presently exists in Earth’s atmosphere.4 Such a thick atmosphere of carbon dioxide and nitrogen may not rule out microbial life, but it would rule out the possibility of animal life.

The conclusion that Kepler 186f may possibly possess a magnetic dipole moment as strong as Earth’s assumes that Kepler 186f rotates about as rapidly as Earth does. This assumption is unlikely given that the tidal interaction between Kepler 186f and its host star is about 21 times stronger than it is between Earth and the Sun. Because of this tidal interaction, there is a 50 percent chance that Kepler 186f is tidally locked. Tidal locking means that Kepler 186f’s rotation period is the same as its orbital revolution period of 130 Earth days. If Kepler 186f is not tidally locked, its rotation period most probably will range from 10–100 Earth days. A rotation period of 10–130 days would generate day-night temperature differences that would rule out the possibility of plant and animal life. It would also rule out the possibility of a strong, enduring magnetic field.

Rare Earth

The three astronomers conclude their paper by noting that “planetary magnetism is an important factor” for determining the possible habitability of any exoplanet.5 Their calculations establish that, for rocky planets, a magnetic dipole moment strong enough and long-lasting enough to make life as advanced as plants and animals possible must be extremely rare.

Earth’s magnetic field now ranks as additional evidence for the rare Earth doctrine, the conclusion that Earth is rare, if not unique, in possessing all characteristic features necessary to make possible the existence of advanced life. The sum total of the known features and the degree to which each must be fine-tuned yields a powerful argument that the cause for all these fine-tuned features is a super-intelligent, supernatural Being.

Original article: Earth, an Extraordinary Magnet for Life

Self-Assembly of Protein Machines: Evidence for Evolution or Creation?

nanotubes

I finally upgraded my iPhone a few weeks ago from a 5s to an 8 Plus. I had little choice. The battery on my cell phone would no longer hold a charge.

I’d put off getting a new one for as long as possible. It just didn’t make sense to spend money chasing the latest and greatest technology when current cell phone technology worked perfectly fine for me. Apart from the battery life and a less-than-ideal camera, I was happy with my iPhone 5s. Now I am really glad I made the switch.

Then, the other day I caught myself wistfully eyeing the iPhone X. And, today, I learned that Apple is preparing the release of the iPhone 11 (or XI or XT). Where will Apple’s technology upgrades take us next? I can’t wait to find out.

Have I become a technology junkie?

It is remarkable how quickly cell phone technology advances. It is also remarkable how alluring new technology can be. The next thing you know, Apple will release an iPhone that will assemble itself when it comes out of the box. . . . Probably not.

But, if the work of engineers at MIT ever reaches fruition, it is possible that smartphone manufacturers one day just might rely on a self-assembly process to produce cell phones.

A Self-Assembling Cell Phone

The Self-Assembly Lab at MIT has developed a pilot process to manufacture cell phones by self-assembly.

To do this, they designed their cell phone to consist of six parts that fit together in a lock-in-key manner. By placing the cell phone pieces into a tumbler that turns at the just-right speed, the pieces automatically combine with one another, bit by bit, until the cell phone is assembled.

Few errors occur during the assembly process. Only pieces designed to fit together combine with one another because of the lock-in-key fabrication.

Self-Assembly and the Case for a Creator

It is quite likely that the work of MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab (and other labs like it) will one day revolutionize manufacturing—not just for iPhones, but for other types of products as well.

As alluring as this new technology might be, I am more intrigued by its implications for the creation-evolution controversy. What do self-assembly processes have to do with the creation-evolution debate? More than we might realize.

I believe self-assembly processes strengthen the watchmaker argument for God’s existence (and role in the origin of life). Namely, this cutting-edge technology makes it possible to respond to a common objection leveled against this design argument.

To understand why this engineering breakthrough is so important for the Watchmaker argument, a little background is necessary.

The Watchmaker Argument

Anglican natural theologian William Paley (1743–1805) posited the Watchmaker argument in the eighteenth century. It went on to become one of the best-known arguments for God’s existence. The argument hinges on the comparison Paley made between a watch and a rock. He argued that a rock’s existence can be explained by the outworking of natural processes—not so for a watch.

The characteristics of a watch—specifically the complex interaction of its precision parts for the purpose of telling time—implied the work of an intelligent designer. Employing an analogy, Paley asserted that just as a watch requires a watchmaker, so too, life requires a Creator. Paley noted that biological systems display a wide range of features characterized by the precise interplay of complex parts designed to interact for specific purposes. In other words, biological systems have much more in common with a watch than a rock. This similarity being the case, it logically follows that life must stem from the work of a Divine Watchmaker.

Biochemistry and the Watchmaker Argument

As I discuss in my book The Cell’s Design, advances in biochemistry have reinvigorated the Watchmaker argument. The hallmark features of biochemical systems are precisely the same properties displayed in objects, devices, and systems designed and crafted by humans.

Cells contain protein complexes that are structured to operate as biomolecular motors and machines. Some molecular-level biomachines are strict analogs to machinery produced by human designers. In fact, in many instances, a one-to-one relationship exists between the parts of manufactured machines and the molecular components of biomachines. (A few examples of these biomolecular machines are discussed in the articles listed in the Resources section.)

We know that machines originate in human minds that comprehend and then implement designs. So, when scientists discover example after example of biomolecular machines inside the cell with an eerie and startling similarity to the machines we produce, it makes sense to conclude that these machines and, hence, life, must also have originated in a Mind.

A Skeptic’s Challenge

As you might imagine, skeptics have leveled objections against the Watchmaker argument since its introduction in the 1700s. Today, when skeptics criticize the latest version of the Watchmaker argument (based on biochemical designs), the influence of Scottish skeptic David Hume (1711–1776) can be seen and felt.

In his 1779 work Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, Hume presented several criticisms of design arguments. The foremost centered on the nature of analogical reasoning. Hume argued that the conclusions resulting from analogical reasoning are only sound when the things compared are highly similar to each other. The more similar, the stronger the conclusion. The less similar, the weaker the conclusion.

Hume dismissed the original version of the Watchmaker argument by maintaining that organisms and watches are nothing alike. They are too dissimilar for a good analogy. In other words, what is true for a watch is not necessarily true for an organism and, therefore, it doesn’t follow that organisms require a Divine Watchmaker, just because a watch does.

In effect, this is one of the chief reasons why some skeptics today dismiss the biochemical Watchmaker argument. For example, philosopher Massimo Pigliucci has insisted that Paley’sanalogy is purely metaphorical and does not reflect a true analogical relationship. He maintains that any similarity between biomolecular machines and human designs reflects merely illustrative analogies that life scientists use to communicate the structure and function of these protein complexes via familiar concepts and language. In other words, it is illegitimate to use the “analogies” between biomolecular machines and manufactured machines to make a case for a Creator.1

A Response Based on Insights from Nanotechnology

I have responded to this objection by pointing out that nanotechnologists have isolated biomolecular machines from the cell and incorporated these protein complexes into nanodevices and nanosystems for the explicit purpose of taking advantage of their machine-like properties. These transplanted biomachines power motion and movements in the devices, which otherwise would be impossible with current technology. In other words, nanotechnologists view these biomolecular systems as actual machines and utilize them as such. Their work demonstrates that biomolecular machines are literal, not metaphorical, machines. (See the Resources section for articles describing this work.)

Is Self-Assembly Evidence of Evolution or Design?

Another criticism—inspired by Hume—is that machines designed by humans don’t self-assemble, but biochemical machines do. Skeptics say this undermines the Watchmaker analogy. I have heard this criticism in the past, but it came up recently in a dialogue I had with a skeptic in a Facebook group.

I wrote that “What we discover when we work out the structure and function of protein complexes are features that are akin to an automobile engine, not an outcropping of rocks.”

A skeptic named Maurice responded: “Your analogy is false. Cars do not spontaneously self-assemble—in that case there is a prohibitive energy barrier. But hexagonal lava rocks can and do—there is no energy barrier to prohibit that from happening.”

Maurice argues that my analogy is a poor one because protein complexes in the cell self-assemble, whereas automobile engines can’t. For Maurice (and other skeptics), this distinction serves to make manufactured machines qualitatively different from biomolecular machines. On the other hand, hexagonal patterns in lava rocks give the appearance of design but are actually formed spontaneously. For skeptics like Maurice, this feature indicates that the design displayed by protein complexes in the cell is apparent, not true, design.

Maurice added: “Given that nature can make hexagonal lava blocks look ‘designed,’ it can certainly make other objects look ‘designed.’ Design is not a scientific term.”

Self-Assembly and the Watchmaker Argument

This is where the MIT engineers’ fascinating work comes into play.

Engineers continue to make significant progress toward developing self-assembly processes for manufacturing purposes. It very well could be that in the future a number of machines and devices will be designed to self-assemble. Based on the researchers’ work, it becomes evident that part of the strategy for designing machines that self-assemble centers on creating components that not only contribute to the machine’s function, but also precisely interact with the other components so that the machine assembles on its own.

The operative word here is designed. For machines to self-assemble they must be designed to self-assemble.

This requirement holds true for biochemical machines, too. The protein subunits that interact to form the biomolecular machines appear to be designed for self-assembly. Protein-protein binding sites on the surface of the subunits mediate this self-assembly process. These binding sites require high-precision interactions to ensure that the binding between subunits takes place with a high degree of accuracy—in the same way that the MIT engineers designed the cell phone pieces to precisely combine through lock-in-key interactions.

blog__inline--self-assembly-of-protein-machines

Figure: ATP Synthase is a biomolecular motor that is literally an electrically powered rotary motor. This biomachine is assembled from protein subunits.

The level of design required to ensure that protein subunits interact precisely to form machine-like protein complexes is only beginning to come into full view.2 Biochemists who work in the area of protein design still don’t fully understand the biophysical mechanisms that dictate the assembly of protein subunits. And, while they can design proteins that will self-assemble, they struggle to replicate the complexity of the self-assembly process that routinely takes place inside the cell.

Thanks to advances in technology, biomolecular machines’ ability to self-assemble should no longer count against the Watchmaker argument. Instead, self-assembly becomes one more feature that strengthens Paley’s point.

The Watchmaker Prediction

Advances in self-assembly also satisfy the Watchmaker prediction, further strengthening the case for a Creator. In conjunction with my presentation of the revitalized Watchmaker argument in The Cell’s Design, I proposed the Watchmaker prediction. I contend that many of the cell’s molecular systems currently go unrecognized as analogs to human designs because the corresponding technology has yet to be developed.

The possibility that advances in human technology will ultimately mirror the molecular technology that already exists as an integral part of biochemical systems leads to the Watchmaker prediction. As human designers develop new technologies, examples of these technologies, though previously unrecognized, will become evident in the operation of the cell’s molecular systems. In other words, if the Watchmaker argument truly serves as evidence for a Creator’s existence, then it is reasonable to expect that life’s biochemical machinery anticipates human technological advances.

In effect, the developments in self-assembly technology and its prospective use in future manufacturing operations fulfill the Watchmaker prediction. Along these lines, it’s even more provocative to think that cellular self-assembly processes are providing insight to engineers who are working to develop similar technology.

Maybe I am a technology junkie, after all. I find it remarkable that as we develop new technologies we discover that they already exist in the cell, and because they do the Watchmaker argument becomes more and more compelling.

Can you hear me now?

Original article: Self-Assembly of Protein Machines: Evidence for Evolution or Creation?

How Bacteria Train Our Immune System

bacteria

When I was growing up, I learned to fear microorganisms. As a child I remember always being concerned about catching a sore throat because the usual treatment was a five-day course of penicillin shots in my backside, twice a day. After more than a couple of sore throats and multiple penicillin shots, I feared being around people with sore throats or colds because I knew that I would be “tortured” again with those shots. I learned to fear tiny, unseen bugs.

As I got older, I saw this fear extended to the population in general in the form of “antimicrobial soaps” and “antimicrobial surfaces.” It seemed that humanity needed to get rid of all bugs, or else we would be subject to torture similar to what I experienced with my penicillin shots. This scenario raises the question: Why would a good God create viruses or bacteria that have the potential to cause serious diseases?

Intimate Bacterial Friends

In the last decade scientific discoveries have shed light on the positive role that these microorganisms play in the human body and how they are important to our health. In this article I will focus on bacterial cells (although there are also viruses and protozoa associated with the human body whose roles are still not completely understood) and their benefits to humans.

The human body is composed of about 30×1012 (30 trillion) cells. The vast majority of these cells are the red cells that make up our blood. In comparison, about 38 trillion bacterial cells line our body.1 This means that there are more bacterial cells than human cells in a human being. Such cells line our skin, mouths, and gut, and are also found in parts of our respiratory and genitourinary systems. By far, most of these cells live in the gut and are known as the human microbiota. These bacterial cells have unique DNA and they produce a different array of proteins than that of the human body. Scientists estimate that 90% of the genes in a human being are derived from the human microbiota, and they comprise what’s called the human microbiome. These bacteria and their genes help protect the human body against threats, provide the body with chemicals essential for adequate functioning, and play many roles in human metabolism that researchers are starting to discover.

Help Begins Early

A human’s first encounter with bacterial cells happens as soon as we are born. When a baby passes through the birth canal, he or she is exposed to the bacteria that line the genital tract and skin of the mother. The bacteria will start covering the baby’s skin as well as his mouth and respiratory tract. When the baby is fed, she swallows bacteria that will eventually establish their home in the gut. Humans are largely unaware of this silent process, but if we look closer we will find that it is crucial for the adequate function of the immune system.

Probably the most complex system in our bodies, the immune system reveals exquisite design. It includes multiple different cells that play a unique role in the crucial task of differentiating between elements that will be beneficial or harmful for the body. We can think of the immune system as our defending army. Humans are born with the basic foundation of the immune system, but its design and function are calibrated by the bacteria that will come in contact with the human body in the first years of life. In other words, the army needs to be trained.2

A baby’s immune system is set up at birth in a bacterial tolerance mode. This permissiveness allows for the careful recognition of bacteria in their newly encountered environment. Through this training process, the immune system will learn to discriminate between “good” and “bad” bacteria (also called pathogens). A tradeoff results as young children have a higher risk of death from infectious diseases than older children. But this risk is attenuated by other factors, including breastfeeding. Here the baby receives antibodies and immune cells that help fend off those dangers. Breastfeeding also produces chemicals that promote the growth of the right bacteria and inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria. This permissiveness stops around the age of 3 years, after which the immune system will have finished its training and will be fully deployed for the rest of the person’s life. It will not stop learning about new threats, but its response will reflect the training process.

Calibrated and Designed for Human Benefit

During this training process, the immune system calibrates its responses, which produces adequate activation and deactivation pathways. If thought of as a combat analogy, a defending army needs to know when to attack, how strongly to attack, which weapons to use, and when to stop attacking. Deficiencies in the training process may produce an immune system in a persistently attacking mode, which manifests in the body as autoimmune diseases (Lupus, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis) or an immune system that overreacts to environmental elements, which we can see as anaphylactic reactions.

The human immune system exhibits unique foresight in its design. This design not only anticipates encounters with elements that must be identified as threats or nonthreats, but also it anticipates that some elements will need to be embraced and protected for the adequate functioning of the human body. These encounters will also end up calibrating the immune response in a way that maximizes the effectiveness of its responses for years to come.

Such elegant calibration brings to mind the words of the psalmist that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Part of that makeup includes a wide collection of microorganisms that are associated with our bodies. These efficient defenders remind us that the more we discover about microorganisms, the more we can appreciate God’s goodness and love for human beings.

Original article: How Bacteria Train Our Immune System

Life Requires Galactic and Supergalactic Habitable Zones

From toddlers to babies

Zones where advanced life can exist in the universe just became stricter. Astronomical researchers have discovered that livable neighborhoods must include not only favorable planet-to-star conditions but also galactic and supergalactic features.

Almost all the research and speculation on habitability in the universe has focused on circumstellar habitable zones. Research on these zones attempts to determine at what specific distances from a host star a planet could conceivably maintain conditions which would make the survival of life possible. Though research on circumstellar habitable zones has largely focused on the liquid water habitable zone—the distance from the star where water could conceivably exist in a liquid state—another ten circumstellar habitable zones are known to be critical for the survivability of life to date. I have written about these eleven habitable zones here,1 here,2 and here.3 For a planet to be truly habitable it must reside simultaneously in all eleven of these circumstellar habitable zones.

Circumstellar habitability, however, is not the only requirement for habitability. For a planet to possibly host life it must also reside in the cosmic temporal habitable zone, the galactic habitable zone, and the supergalactic habitable zone. Astronomer Paul Mason has been studying and writing on this subject and has explained his findings.

Cosmic Temporal Habitable Zone

At the January 2017 meeting of the American Astronomical Society, Mason first addressed the subject of cosmic, galactic, and supergalactic habitability in a paper titled “Habitability in the Local Universe.”4 Therein, he pointed out that long-term habitability on the surface of a planet requires a prerequisite minimum abundance of several different elements. Animals, for example, require certain minimum abundances of twenty-two different elements in the periodic table. Mason explains that it takes a minimum amount of time for star formation and ongoing star burning within a galaxy to generate (through nucleosynthesis) the requisite abundances of these life-critical elements.

That minimum time is about nine billion years after the cosmic creation event. Though not mentioned by Mason, there is also a maximum time. Relatively aggressive ongoing star formation is necessary to sustain the spiral structure of a galaxy. When that star formation ceases, the spiral structure collapses and then the average separation between stars becomes too small for life to survive. Furthermore, virtually all planets within such a galaxy become exposed to the deadly radiation from one or more supermassive black holes.

Another problem for life is that the more time that passes, the more merger events with small and large galaxies will occur. Inevitably, one or more of these merger events will be devastating for life within the galaxy.

The window on life in the universe will close when the universe is about 15 billion years old. Since it takes time—over three billion years—for the first life in the universe to prepare a planetary environment for advanced life, the cosmic time window (less than a billion years) for advanced life is much briefer than it is for microbial life (about six billion years).

Galactic Habitable Zones

In a subsequent paper coauthored with Peter Biermann5 and in a paper delivered at the January 2019 American Astronomical Society meeting,6 Mason discussed galactic habitability conditions in addition to the galactic habitable zone. The galactic habitable zone refers to a narrow distance range from the center of a spiral galaxy where a star revolves around the center of the galaxy at virtually the same rate that the galaxy’s spiral structure rotates (see figure 1). Only within this narrow distance range does a star and its system of planets cross spiral arms infrequently enough (less than once per billion years) that it becomes possible for advanced life to exist on one of the star’s planets.

blog__inline--life-requires-galactic-and-supergalactic-habitable-zones-1

Figure 1: The Galactic Habitable Zone. Only a star and its system of planets located very near the red annulus will experience very infrequent crossings of spiral arms. The yellow dot represents the present position of the solar system. 

Mason and Biermann point out that thanks to a relatively high rate of supernova eruption events, our galaxy maintains a relativistic galactic wind. This wind shields our solar system from deadly extragalactic cosmic rays. However, if the supernova eruption rate in our galaxy were any higher, radiation from the supernovae would prove deadly to advanced life on Earth. Fortunately, the supernova eruption rate in our galaxy is just right.

Mason and Biermann also explain how the activity level of our galactic nucleus must be fine-tuned. It takes small dwarf galaxies being regularly absorbed into the nucleus of our galaxy to sustain the ongoing star formation that is critical for maintaining our galaxy’s spiral structure. However, if our galaxy were to absorb or merge with a large dwarf galaxy, that absorption or merger could activate our galaxy’s nucleus. That activation would shower the entire extent of our galaxy with deadly radiation. Fortunately, our galaxy is absorbing dwarf galaxies of the just-right size and at the just-right rate to make possible the survival of advanced life on Earth.

Supergalactic Habitable Zone

Only in a cluster of galaxies will a galaxy like ours have a sufficient supply of dwarf galaxies to sustain its spiral structure for many billions of years. Our galaxy cluster, the Local Group (see figure 2), has the distinction of possessing many dwarf galaxies but no giant galaxies. Our Local Group also has the distinction of residing on the outer fringe of the Virgo Supercluster of galaxies.

blog__inline--life-requires-galactic-and-supergalactic-habitable-zones-2

Figure 2: The Local Group, Our Galaxy’s Galaxy Cluster. The Milky Way Galaxy is to the lower right. Above it are the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. To the upper left are the Andromeda Galaxy and its system of dwarf galaxies. Below Andromeda is the Triangulum spiral galaxy. 

Mason and Biermann explain how the giant galaxies near the center of the Virgo Supercluster pour out such intense deadly radiation as to eliminate the possibility for advanced life residing in any of the galaxies near the center of the Virgo Supercluster. Fortunately, our Milky Way Galaxy is far enough away from the center of the Virgo Supercluster and it possesses a strong enough relativistic galactic wind that advanced life on Earth is not harmed by the deadly radiation emanating from the giant galaxies in the Virgo Supercluster.

Layers of Design

A star and its system of planets must be exquisitely designed in many different ways for advanced life to be possible on one of the star’s planets. Thanks to the findings of researchers Mason and Biermann, we now appreciate more than we have before that it also takes exquisite fine-tuning of the universe, the planetary system’s host galaxy, the host galaxy’s galaxy cluster, and the host galaxy cluster’s supercluster of galaxies for advanced life to possibly exist and thrive. As the agnostic astronomer Paul Davies wrote in his book The Cosmic Blueprint, “the impression of design is overwhelming.”7

Original article: Life Requires Galactic & Supergalactic Habitable Zones