The Ten Commandments of the Universe

Posted by David Eicher
on Monday, April 4, 2011

Welcome to “Dave’s universe,” the new blog by Dave Eicher, editor of Astronomy magazine, and astronomy and science popularizer. I’ll be bringing you new thoughts about astronomy, cosmology, nature, the hobby of astronomy, the sometimes disturbingly pseudoscientific culture we live in, and other miscellany. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

We’re all familiar with the Ten Commandments of biblical verse, a set of religious imperatives given by God to the people of Israel via Moses. But what if Ten Commandments existed not for religion but for nature, and specifically for the sciences of astronomy and cosmology? Here’s how I see them stacking up:

1. Conservation Theory. Energy and mass in the universe cannot be created or destroyed, but can be interconverted. Thus, creation and final destruction are not relevant to understanding nature. The marvelous equation E = mc2 represents conversion.

2. Entropy Theory. Entropy, the direction of matter going from order to disorder over time, increases spontaneously. Nature is dissipating over time. Improvements, syntheses, organization, and growth require energy at the expense of the environment.

3. Quantum Theory. Activity is the product of energy and time, as evidenced by h = Et.

4. Radiation Theory. Disintegration of mass is a first-order reaction. Fission applies mostly to large atoms while fusion applies mostly to small atoms.

5. Particle Theory. Particles with mass (such as electrons, protons, and neutrons) give rise to atoms (such as hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon), which give rise to molecules (such as water, quartz, and DNA), which give rise to chemical systems (such as minerals, plants, and animals), which give rise to the universe of objects (such as Earth, stars, and galaxies).

6. Evolution Theory. Combinations of the kinetic molecular theory, the chirality principle, and the laws of genetics lead to life and the development of species with both inheritance and variation, due to heredity and mutation.

7. Relativity Theory. The notion of space-time (simultaneous, consecutive, and complementary events) is defined from the perspective of the observer.

8. Psychological Theory. Respect for nature is mandated, especially for life and particularly for humans.

9. Behavior Theory. There’s satisfaction to be gained by helping others toward happiness, which is usually reciprocal in bringing happiness in return. Personal immortality is achieved only by the views of others.

10. Ethical Theory. For a worthwhile existence, we must strive to maximize freedom with responsibility and find fulfillment in peace with love.

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