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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 20, No. 9. June 27, 1957

Are we "Unique"?

Are we "Unique"?

And so it goes Note that the conclusion, viz,. "The uniqueness of our world", depends on the improbability of the occurrence of certain physical events (careful'). We would not be quite as confident in our own uniqueness if we could formulate a satisfactory theory which implied a physical occurrence of higher probability. If such is the ease, and I assert that such is the case, then there is a chance that there are a large number of living beings on planetary systems in our physical universe, yet beyond the ken of our largest telescopes and most relined instrumental observations.

A theory in which the probability of the events associated with planetary formation is high enough to account for a great number of "stellar systems" throughout space, has recently been forwarded by Alfven. It is based firstly on the property of an atom called its "ionisation potential" (familiar, of course, to many students of chemistry and physics) which is roughly a measure of the work required to remove an electron from the atom, and secondly, the assumption, open, to doubt, until confirmed by the researches of Babcock and his associates, of a general stellar magnetic field (similar to the terrestrial magnetic field which directs a compass needle) and thirdly, a relatively dense and extensive atmosphere composed of a mixture of gases which tend to [unclear: fall] towards the stellar centre under the [unclear: influence] of gravity. The fall of this atmosphere is opposed by the magnetic field and radiation pressure. An atom travelling towards the stellar surface will reach a point, at a distance from the star determined partly by its velocity and mass but mainly by its ionisation potential, at which it is stopped, in a manner remotely analogous to the "eddy-current effect" which slows a conducting plate held between the poles of a magnet. Different elements have different ionisation potentials, thus the elements tend in sort themselves into groups each of characteristic composition at various distances from the stellar centre The gases in these zones nowcool. By radiation, until they condense along with their associated magnetic field, into planets. A smaller scale repetition of the above process then produces the planetary satellites. (A difficulty with other theories.) The application of this theory to our solar system leads to values of orbit radius and element distribution which roughly accords with the known values.

Detailed application and proof of this tentative hypothesis is hampered by the lack of information concerning the origin, shape, strength and extent of both solar and terrestrial magnetic fields.

Man has gradually come to realize that his woman, his village, his country, his nation, his earth, his galaxy, are not the centre of the universe. Has he yet to realize that "himself" also, is not the centre of all things? Can he consistently "hate himself?"