* Another Fun RSR List Show: In our List of the Fine-Tuned Features of the Universe, Real Science Radio host Bob Enyart quotes leading scientists and their astounding admission of the uncanny and seemingly never-ending list of the just-perfect finely tuned parameters of the physical features of the Earth, the solar system, and the entire cosmos. This program is brought to you by God, maker of heaven and earth and other fine products!
* The Finely Tuned Parameters of the Universe: Barrow & Tipler, in their standard treatment, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, admit that "there exist a number of unlikely coincidences between numbers of enormous magnitude that are, superficially, completely independent; moreover, these coincidences appear essential to the existence of carbon-based observers in the Universe." Examples include the wildly unlikely combination of:
- there is the same number of electrons as protons to a standard deviation of one in ten to the thirty-seventh power, that is, 1 in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (37 zeros)
- the 1-to-1 electron to proton ratio throughout the universe yields our electrically neutral universe
- all fundamental particles of the same kind are identical (including protons, electrons, down quarks, etc., even, in QED, photons!)
- energy exactly equals mass (times the conversion factor of c²)
- the electron and the massively greater proton have exactly equivalent opposite charges
- the electron to proton mass ratio (1 to 1,836) is perfect for forming molecules
- the baryon (protons, neutrons, etc.) that decays must conserve the number of baryons
- the free neutron decays in minutes whereas it is stable within the nuclei of all the non-radioactive elements (otherwise eventually only hydrogen would exist because the strong nuclear force needs neutrons to overcome proton repulsion)
- the proton can't decay because it is the lightest baryon (otherwise all elements would be unstable)
- the electromagnetic and gravitational forces are finely tuned for the stability of stars
- the gravitational and inertial mass equivalency
- the electromagnetic force constant is perfect for holding electrons to nuclei
- the electromagnetic force is in the right ratio to the nuclear force
- the strong force if changed by 1% would destroy all carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and heavier elements
- all electrons in the universe are identical as are all instances of each fundamental particle
- etc., etc., etc. (including the shocking apparent alignment of the universe with the orbit of the Earth)
Omitting the Cosmological Constant: We have omitted from this list the commonly reported fine-tuning of the cosmological constant to one part in 10 to the 120th. This is so very precise that if the entire universe had as much additional mass as exists in a single grain of sand, it would all collapse upon itself. That is, if a big bang actually formed our universe, and if it created a miniscule additional amount of mass than it is claimed to have created, then no planets, stars, or galaxies could exist. Conversely, if the universe had less mass, by that same quantity, matter never would have coalesced to become planets, stars, and galaxies, and again, we would not exist. So, why doesn't Real Science Radio include this astoundingly fine-tuned parameter in our list? Well, as physicist John Hartnett points out, the cosmological constant is only a fine-tuning problem for the big bang theory, so it is an argument only against a big bang universe, whereas in our actual universe, it is not a fine tuning issue. So, the cosmological constant does refute big bang cosmology, at least, for anyone who is objective, has common sense, and is not desperately trying to ignore the evidence for the Creator. (By the way, since NASA says that the confirmed predictions of the big bang theory are what validates it, you might want to Google: big bang predictions, and you'll find our article ranked #1 out of half-a-million, at rsr.org/bbp, presenting the actual track record of the predictions of the theory. Also, if you Google: evidence against the big bang, you'll find our article on that topic near the top of the first page of Google results!)
* The Whopping Physics Coincidence: NewScientist reports about gravity and acceleration that, "a large chunk of modern physics is precariously balanced on a whopping coincidence" for, regarding gravitational and inertial mass, "these two masses are always numerically exactly the same. The consequences of this coincidence are profound..."
* The Finely Tuned Parameters of the Solar System include:
- Our Sun is positioned far from the Milky Way's center in a galactic Goldilocks zone of low radiation
- Our Sun placed in an arm of the Milky Way puts it where we can discover a vast swath of the entire universe
- Our Sun is in the unusual Local Bubble, 300 light years of extremely diffuse gas, 1/500th of the average
- Earth's orbit is nearly circular (eccentricity ~ 0.02) around the Sun providing a stability in a range of vital factors
- Earth's orbit has a low inclination keeping its temperatures within a range permitting diverse ecosystems
- Earth's axial tilt is within a range that helps to stabilize our planet's climate
- the Moon's mass helps stabilize the Earth's tilt on its axis, which provides for the diversity of alternating seasons
- the Moon's distance from the Earth provides tides to keep life thriving in our oceans, and thus, worldwide
- the Moon's nearly circular orbit (eccentricity ~ 0.05) makes its influence extraordinarily reliable
- the Moon is 1/400th the size of the Sun, and at 1/400th its distance, enables educational perfect eclipses
- the Earth's distance from the Sun provides for great quantities of life and climate-sustaining liquid water
- the Sun's extraordinary stable output of the energy
- the Sun's mass and size are just right for Earth's biosystem
- the Sun's luminosity and temperature are just right to provide for Earth's extraordinary range of ecosystems
- the color of the Sun's light from is tuned for maximum benefit for our plant life (photosynthesis)
- the Sun's low "metallicity" prevents the destruction of life on Earth
- etc., etc., etc.
* What is the Multiverse? In June of 2016, Fred Williams passed along a question from a listener to his Real Science Radio co-host Bob Enyart. (See rsr.org/mv for more.)
Q: "What is the Multiverse?"
A: "The multiverse is a yardstick used to measure the strength of the fine-tuning argument for God."
Q: "Why do so many atheists support the multiverse?"
A: "The swift acceptance of the multiverse measures desperation."
* The Finely Tuned Earth includes:
- the Earth's surface gravity strength prevents the atmosphere from rapidly losing water to space
- the Earth's just-right ozone layer filters out ultraviolet radiation and mitigates temperature swings
- the Earth's magnetic field preserves our ozone layer and fends off solar shockwaves
- the Earth's spin rate on its axis provides for a range of day and nighttime temperatures to allow life to thrive
- the atmosphere's composition (20% oxygen, etc.) provides for life's high energy requirements
- if Earth's oxygen content were higher, forest fires would worsen
- the atmosphere's pressure enables our lungs to function and water to evaporate at an optimal rate to support life
- the atmosphere's transparency to allow an optimal range of life-giving solar radiation to reach the surface
- the atmosphere's capacity to hold water vapor provides for stable temperature and rainfall ranges
- astoundingly efficient life-giving photosynthesis produces oxygen and sugar, and animals breath oxygen and eat the plants
- the transparent atmosphere and magnetic field enable long-distance navigation of species
- organisms do not metabolize lignin (component in soil) for otherwise most all plant life would be impossible
- life's "interactions are facilitated by water in an extremely fine-tuned way" according to NASA.gov
- the water molecule's astounding robustness results from finely balanced quantum effects. As reported by New Scientist, "Water's life-giving properties exist on a knife-edge. It turns out that life as we know it relies on a fortuitous, but incredibly delicate, balance of quantum forces. ... We are used to the idea that the cosmos' physical constraints are fine-tuned for life. Now it seems water's quantum forces can be added to this 'just right' list."
- water is an unrivaled solvent; its low viscosity permits the tiniest blood vessels; its high specific heat stabilizes biosphere temperatures; its low thermal conductivity as a solid insulates frozen-over lakes and as a liquid its high conductivity lets organisms distribute heat; its an efficient lubricant; is only mildly reactive; has an anomalous (fish-saving) expansion when it freezes; its high vapor tension keeps moisture in the atmosphere; and it tastes great too!
- the phenomenally harmonious water cycle (which is one example of astounding functional complexity not explainable by evolutionary theory; another example is the astounding world of quantum physics)
- water permits the passage of the Sun's life-giving radiation to depths of 500 meters
- the carbon atom's astounding capabilities. As Cambridge astronomer Fred Hoyle wrote: "Some super-calculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question."
- etc., etc., etc.
* Krauss gives RSR Anthropic Circular Reasoning: Bob quoted Walter ReMine (1993, p. 61) to theoretical physicist (emphasis on the theoretical) Lawrence Krauss that his anthropic principle is as satisfying as a doctor saying, "The reason that your father is deaf is because he can't hear." Along with atheists generally, Krauss uses the Anthropic Principle to explain away the extraordinarily unlikely precise values of the many finely-tuned parameters like those listed above, including the one in 10,000 decillion odds against us having a virtually perfect one-to-one electron-to-proton ratio.
They make the philosophical argument that it is not surprising that the universe has all the necessary fine-tuning for life, for otherwise, we wouldn't be here to notice. In this way they deflect attention onto the observer and away from the very design of the universe that they are pretending to explain. Meanwhile, Stephen Hawking admits, while faithfully adhering to the anthropic doctrine, regarding "The laws of science... [t]he remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life. For example, if the electric charge of the electron had been only slightly different, stars either would have been unable to burn hydrogen and helium, or else they would not have [supernovaed]" (Hawking, Brief History of Time, p. 160; his next comment is obsolete now that supernovas are rejected as the source of the periodic table's heavier elements). And in Hawking's book, The Grand Design, he quotes a famed astronomer, "[Fred] Hoyle wrote, 'I do not believe that any scientist who examined the evidence would fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce...'" with Hawking adding, "At the time no one knew enough nuclear physics to understand the magnitude of the serendipity that resulted in these exact physical laws" (p. 159).
* Fine Tuning Quotes: British astrophysicist Paul Davies wrote, "There is now broad agreement among physicists and cosmologists that the universe is in several respects 'fine-tuned' for life. ...carbon, and the properties of objects such as stable long-lived stars, depend rather sensitively on the values of certain physical parameters... it is fine-tuned for the essential building blocks and environments that life requires." And, "There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all....It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe....The impression of design is overwhelming." An early observer of what has become now this broad agreement was another Brit, astronomer Arthur Eddington, who estimated in 1931, "The picture of the world, as drawn in existing physical theories, shows arrangement of the individual elements for which the odds are multillions to 1 against an origin by chance." Eddington then defined multillions as a general term for numbers of the order of 10 to the 100th power "or larger".
* The Astronomer and the Physicist: NASA astronomer John O'Keefe said, "We are, by astronomical standards, a pampered, cosseted, cherished group of creatures.. .. If the Universe had not been made with the most exacting precision we could never have come into existence. It is my view that these circumstances indicate the universe was created for man to live in." Nobel prize winner physicist Arno Penzias said, "Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing, one with the very delicate balance needed to provide exactly the conditions required to permit life, and one which has an underlying (one might say 'supernatural') plan." See these and other quotes sourced.
* Hawking's Circular Argument that Gravity Did It: Famed astronomer Seth Shostak, asking, "Who or what built the universe?" speaks of Stephen Hawking's claim that, "With gravity in place, the cosmos-as-we-know-it was just a matter of hanging out for a few billion years." And then Shostak observers:
...this approach inevitably begs the question, "who designed gravity?" Isn't it remarkable that this gentle force seems so perfectly suited to the job of assembling a grand and habitable universe? And indeed... there are many other physical parameters that seem to be nicely adjusted for our presence. This is frequently referred to as a "fine-tuning" of the cosmos. If, for instance, the charge on the electron were of a slightly different value, stars wouldn't work adequately, and you would be spared both this blog and your existence. Depending on your personal philosophies, you can either credit this custom fitting to the intentions of God, or go for Plan B. The latter posits a multiverse...
And see below for Bob Enyart's disagreement with physicist Lawrence Krauss who claimed that the multiverse has not been proposed in order to solve the atheist's fine-tuning problem.
* Fine Tuning of the Make-Believe Big Bang: Known as the flatness problem, if the big bang were true, for the universe to not catastrophically collapse back onto itself under an overdensity of matter, and for it not to wildly expand beyond the reach of gravity to form galaxies, the initial density of matter had to be tuned to within one part in ten to 57 zeros, i.e., 1 in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. Conversely, the amount of the hypothetical (anti-gravity) substance dark energy must be similarly tuned, along with a host of other parameters, in order for the make-believe big bang universe to exist. But, since we're talking about make-believe, we might as well posit an infinite number of universes, a multiverse, in which the most wildly unlikely scenarios, fine-tuned and otherwise, each occur an infinite number of times over, including Boltzmann-Brain universes and ones in which Herbert Hoover created alien worlds filled with sentient creatures who worship him.
* Beware the Fine Tuning Claims of Hugh Ross: Consider the difference between studying the fine-tuning of the scientifically discernible universe as compared to the fine tuning required for some science fiction story. Confusion will result if we claim that particular fine-tuning must exist to allow for certain events, if in fact those events have never occurred or have not occurred as imagined. For example, Dr. Ross bizarrely claims a tuning of the "rate of nearby gamma-ray bursts" to account for "mass extinctions of life to create new habitats for more advanced species." Likewise, If it turns out that no star, planet, or solar system, has ever formed naturally, then of course it would be invalid to assert the necessity of any fine tuning needed solely for star formation, etc. Consider this analogy: Bob Enyart ended his debate with popular atheist AronRa observing that a professional evolutionist is, "like a renowned Star Wars trivia buff, able to distinguish between a juvenile Wookiee and a mature Ewok, and explain from geology what froze the oceans on Hoth and how Tatooine was covered by desert." Anyone creating a list of the fine-tuning of physics required for science fiction (Lawrence Krauss comes to mind :) is hopefully entertaining himself. When presenting fine-tuning arguments, a distinction should be made between the tuning that is necessary for the life and the reality that actually exists, as compared to the tuning needed to accommodate some theory of origins (or extinctions). The universe and the life in it are actualities that a valid understanding of the fine-tuning issue would account for. However, if dark matter doesn't even exist (as major efforts to detect dark matter have failed), then Ross' claim of fine-tuning of the "decay rate of cold dark matter" to prevent "too many dwarf spheroidal galaxies" from forming is a fiction which leads only to confusion. Even his claim for the tuning of the alleged "star formation rate" of course is invalid if, as it appears from the laws of physics, naturalistic star formation is impossible. Organizations that accept the falsified big bang model, like the Intelligent Design community's Discovery Institute, and Hugh Ross' Reasons To Believe, with their stellar, planetary and chemical evolution stories, will produce unreliable lists of fine tuning features of the actual cosmos. Basing claims on the requirements of incorrect theories makes those claims possibly irrelevant to understanding reality and worse, a hindrance to learning the truth. Regardless though, if such theory-based fine-tuning can be shown, theoretically, to be implausible, it could falsify that theory.
Fine-tuning for Life on Earth vs. an Imaginary Planet: Hugh Ross has long put unjustified faith in the ad hoc secular theories of solar system formation. By 2013, the growing database of exoplanet characteristics has trashed those models after they were body slammed by real things like retrograde orbits and hot jupiters. Yet Ross has always included in his fine-tuning calculations for life on Earth things like the orbital parameters of Jupiter, etc., whereas those calculations are now known to be irrelevant, since they were based on the likelihood of natural planetary formation by theories that are now known to be "clearly, thoroughly wrong." As the standard model itself is likewise body slammed by relentless astronomical observation, many of Ross' fine-tuning requirements will be seen as only fanciful except that they will help to falsify the very theory that Ross based them on: the big bang.
Fine-tuning for Actual Life vs. for Abiogenesis: The same distinction should be made between the fine-tuning required for actual life, and for the hypothesis of abiogenesis. By the biological law of biogenesis, life only comes from life. (This is even consistent with biblical teachings regarding the origin of spirit beings.) If life has never arisen naturally from inanimate material, then a list a mile long of the physics and chemistry fine-tuning required for abiogenesis is valuable only as a falsification tool.
Request of Creationist and Intelligent Design Scientists: Our technical experience here at RSR is in software engineering and not physics. So for now, on this topic we are somewhat at the mercy of Darwinian journal articles. So we call upon creationist and ID physicists, chemists, cosmologists, and astrophysicists, to make these necessary distinctions. Thus, we are hesitant to add to our list of fine-tuning various claims found in Ross material and, for example, in the classic Anthropic Cosmological Principle text, which states that, "the ratio of the number of photons to protons" which must "lie within a very narrow range to allow carbon-based life to arise." Thinker beware.
* Earth's Ecosystem Fine-Tuned to Use Quantum Mechanics: Until now, the fine tuning of quantum mechanics and the field of biology seemed unrelated. Not any longer! From Science Daily: "Quantum physics and plant biology seem like two branches of science that could not be more different, but surprisingly they may in fact be intimately tied." And from PNAS as reported by Wired, "More evidence found for quantum physics in photosynthesis." So, it turns out that The Universe Really is fine tuned for life!
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* Lawrence Krauss Never Heard of Alleged Fine-Tuning Multiverse Solution; Then Proposes It: In our broadcast interview, Dr. Lawrence Krauss rejected Enyart's observation that materialists were positing multitudes of universes in order to explain apparent design. However a decade earlier, Stephen Hawking associate and cosmologist George Ellis wrote with co-authors in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, "The idea of a multiverse -- an ensemble of universes -- has received increasing attention in cosmology... as an explanation for why our universe appears to be fine-tuned for life and consciousness." And nearly three decades ago, back in 1985, the consummate astronomer, British cosmologist Ed Harrison, wrote, "Here is the cosmological proof of the existence of God – the design argument of Paley – updated and refurbished. The fine tuning of the universe provides prima facie evidence of deistic design. Take your choice: blind chance that requires multitudes of universes or design that requires only one.... Many scientists, when they admit their views, incline toward the teleological or design argument." Now fast forward to this year when biologist and fellow of both Cambridge University and of the Royal Society, Rupert Sheldrake, wrote, "To avoid a creator God emerging in a new guise, most leading cosmologists prefer to believe that our universe is one of a vast, and perhaps infinite, number of parallel universes..." So beginning at 9 minutes into today's broadcast Enyart asserted to Krauss that he and other atheists readily accept the notions of trillions upon trillions of universes assuming this gives them a possible explanation for the wildly unlikely finely tuned parameters (rsr.org/fine-tuning) of our universe. At 13:42 in, Krauss denied this. Enyart says, "The reason that so many astrophysicists, cosomologists, have gone to asserting the multiverse, that there are trillions upon trillions of universes, is because they say ours is such that, it is so wildly unlikely, there's no good reason for it to be here, unless there were septillions." Krauss "No, that's not the reason; no, no, that's not the case." This prompted Enyart to state, "Let me object, for the record..." And in denying that he had ever heard of the multiverse proposed solution as an answer for the fine-tuning problem, he then claimed that the multiverse is posited only because of string theory, and though he himself rejects string theory, yet he then claimed that there might indeed be an infinite number of universes. What a web we weave. Famed cosmologists John Barrow & Frank Tipler, on the back cover of their standard treatment, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, "Could there be other universes? How large is the range of conceivable universes that can give rise to living observers?" On page 6 they write, "we are tempted to make statements of comparative reference regarding the properties of our observable Universe with respect to the alternative universes we can imagine possessing difference values [for] their fundamental constraints. But there is only one Universe [no?]; where do we find the other possible universes against which to compare our own in order to decide how fortunate it is that all these remarkable coincidences that are necessary for our own evolution actually exist?" See more RSR multiverse excerpts from this text, by cosmologists whom Lawrence Krauss knows very well.
* Then Krauss Proposes Multiverse Solution: At 14:40 into their radio broadcast, physicist Lawrence Krauss admited to Bob Enyart, "something along the lines of what you're saying, namely, that if [certain fine tuning] were any different... so if [the fine tuning] is a random event, then if it we're any different, we wouldn't be here. Now, I should say that that's a plausible and possible answer, resolution to that problem, and it's motivated in some sense by the possible existence of many universes, which are predicted by many particle physics theories." Then at 18 minutes in, Krauss again basically agrees with what he had been rejecting, saying, "There are many physicists who argue that the parameters of our universe are difficult to comprehend and many who predict the existence of many universes... We only exist in the universe with the parameters that allow life." This is not surprising because:
- Krauss' own book embraces the multiverse in Chapter 8: A Grand Accident
- Statistician and codger William Briggs noted last year that Krauss himself proposes multiple universes to explain ours.
On RSR, Krauss even stated that there might be infinite universes (which of course could include millions of universes wherein Lawrence was married to Hillary and elected president as Bill Krauss; millions of others wherein he was Chelsea's brother; and in all of which, atheists spend far too much time thinking about the Physics of Lost in Space). Krauss and his associates were slow to the table though on the multiverse, which was not as supposed invented by physicist Hugh Everett, but a year earlier in 1956 by DC Comics.
* Atheism, Not Physics, Leads to Belief in Multiverse: Cosmologists like Lawrence Krauss claim that physics and the study of subatomic particles led to belief in the multiverse. Alternatively, Real Science Radio argues that it is not particle physics but atheism which led to the proposal of, and the current obsession with, the multiverse. Prof. Peter Coveney and Roger Highfield in their popular book, The Arrow of Time, present the "many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics" (MWI, aka, the multiverse) as an alternative to the Copenhagen interpretation because whereas the science itself suggested the existence of God, a multiverse was viewed as a way out. At Princeton University in 1957 Hugh Everett working with Prof. John Wheeler proposed that, as in the wave-particle duality double-slit experiment, a photon (electron, etc.) doesn't pass through one slit or the other, but rather, the entire "universe splits into two" as its wave goes through both, and when an observer sees the collapse of its wave function, we're merely registering the outcome in our own universe. According to Coveney and Highfield, "Everett's many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics has found favour with many cosmologists because it removes the apparent necessity for an external observer. [For] the only observer who could collapse a conventional wavefunction of the universe must be God." (pp. 133-134) Incidentally, Everett's thesis affirms a "psycho-physical parallelism" which rejects the human soul and spirit for a purely physical mechanism, and New Scientist's review of a Tegmark book asks, has multiverse "cosmology veered towards something akin to religion? ... Multiverse champions seem quite happy, even eager, to invoke infinite numbers of other universes as mechanisms for explaining things we see in our own universe. In a sense, multiverse enthusiasts take a 'leap of faith'". Famed astronomer Seth Shostak, asking, "Who or what built the universe?" speaks of Stephen Hawking's claim that, "With gravity in place, the cosmos-as-we-know-it was just a matter of hanging out for a few billion years." And then Shostak observers:
...this approach inevitably begs the question, "who designed gravity?" Isn't it remarkable that this gentle force seems so perfectly suited to the job of assembling a grand and habitable universe? And indeed... there are many other physical parameters that seem to be nicely adjusted for our presence. This is frequently referred to as a "fine tuning" of the cosmos. If, for instance, the charge on the electron were of a slightly different value, stars wouldn't work adequately, and you would be spared both this blog and your existence. Depending on your personal philosophies, you can either credit this custom fitting to the intentions of God, or go for Plan B. The latter posits a multiverse...
Thus the dislike of God is so unquestioned and intense among secular scientists that it motivated the initial proposal (though absurd) of parallel universes. Or, in the slightly veiled terminology of Max Tegmark: "Going from our universe to the Level I multiverse eliminates the need to specify initial conditions." Exactly.
* Multiverse vs. Bible Verse: "In the beginning God created" begins the first Bible verse. Krauss' objections aside, here's the multiverse alternative as described in the NY Times by Paul Davies:
Imagine you can play God and fiddle with the settings of the great cosmic machine. Turn this knob and make electrons a bit heavier; twiddle that one and make gravitation a trifle weaker. What would be the effect? ...there wouldn't be anyone around to see the result, because the existence of life depends rather critically on the actual settings that Mother Nature selected.
Scientists have long puzzled over this rather contrived state of affairs. Why is nature so ingeniously, one might even say suspiciously, friendly to life? What do the laws of physics care about life and consciousness that they should conspire to make a hospitable universe? It's almost as if a Grand Designer had it all figured out.
The fashionable scientific response to this cosmic conundrum is to invoke the so-called multiverse theory.
* Research Question: The footer to every page on our website links to our Errata page. That mentions that while the Manhattan Project eventually quelled its fears of the atmosphere potentially being set on fire, Bob was incorrect to suggest in his list of fine tuning examples that increased oxygen content alone might enable a forest fire to ignite the atmosphere. Some have reported that at over 30% contcentration, the atmosphere could ignite. But the trace amounts of methane in the atmosphere would not be a sufficient fuel source. So if Earth's atmosphere were not well designed, what are the minimal changes in its composition that could make it vulnerable to ignition?