Five Seconds Without Oxygen
Glorifying the “little things” in God’s Creation.
onfession: I am a total science nerd. I’m the type of gal who identifies organisms by their taxonomic classification while walking down a breezeway. I get excited telling my friends about a redox reaction I designed between cupric chloride and aluminum foil (CAUTION! Extremely exothermic! Do not try at home!). I get emotional when I hear someone attributing the discovery of DNA’s structure to Watson and Crick instead Rosalind Franklin. I’m the Bill Nye in my clique of friends, and thank God, my friends tolerate my many scientific rants and “fun facts.” How I managed to go this long without writing a blog related to science is beyond me.
Before I begin, I would like to say that most of the information presented in this blog is none of my own findings- the oxygen facts I stumbled across on the internet a few days ago, and I felt the need to share it.
But first, a small introduction. As Christians, it is imperative to understand that human existence was and is not a haphazard event. God, in His infinite knowledge, designed this universe, this galaxy, this planet, for the sole purpose of harboring His creation. Planet earth is the right distance from the right kind of star, the sun. We are made of the right kind of chemicals, arranged miraculously in the right order to create us (to put this perspective, to make collagen- the stuff connective tissue is made of- you need a 1,055-sequence molecule. The chances of it assembling together on its own in the correct arrangement is a mind-boggling 1 in 10260 chance).* Most importantly, out of the millions of billions of species that exist, only humans were endowed to be created in the image of God, and given the gift of intellect. The point I’m trying to make is, considering how infinitely large the universe is, how many galaxies exist, how many suns shine, how many planets revolve harboring all sorts of atmospheres, without the Hands of a Creator, the odds of our existence would be vastly against us.
Everything God created was perfect, as it says repeatedly in Genesis, “God saw that [what He created] was good.” It was good because it would suit His people to come. He gave them an atmosphere, a sun, water, plants, and animals so that they may thrive and multiply on the face of the earth. Unfortunately, we take so much of what God has created for us for granted.
Take oxygen, example. I want you to imagine that for only five seconds, all the oxygen on Earth vanished. Only for five seconds. What do you think would happen?
1. Everyone at the beach would immediately get sunburns- molecular oxygen in the air protects our skin against UV light.
2. The daytime sky would get dark- fewer particles to bounce light means a dark, almost black sky.
3. All pieces of untreated metal would instantly spot weld to each other- the only thing preventing metal from welding together on contact is a layer of oxidation.
4. The earth’s crust would crumble- oxygen makes up 45% of the earth’s crust.
5. Everyone’s inner ear would explode- we would lose about 21% of the air pressure.
6. Every building made of concrete would turn to dust- oxygen is an important binder in concrete.
7. The oceans would evaporate and bleed into space- water is 1/3 oxygen, so without it, hydrogen would turn into a gaseous state and expand in volume. It would be free to float to the upper troposphere and eventually into space.**
We call God the Pantocrator, the “Holder of all,” and indeed, He holds the universe in the palm of His hand. Thank Him for the small things that He manages, without which, our existence would be in jeopardy. Thank Him for every breath of oxygen you take.
*Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything.