Saturn's Ring Are Young!
Above: Saturn as seen when space craft Cassini flew by. (2013)
Pick anyone living in the world today. What could you say you know about them? Well for
one, you could say you know they weren’t alive at the time of Christ. How do you know that? Well we know Christ lived some 2000
years ago. We also know that humans do not live for 2000 years. And though life spans vary, most do not live much beyond 100 years.
So if you come across a living person, you know that person was not alive to see Christ; for if they were alive during Christ’s
time, they wouldn’t be alive now.
That is the scenario we have with the Rings of Saturn. Scientists have calculated the “life
span” of the rings, and it is not at all in line with what they calculate the age of either the solar system or Saturn. So if the
rings are “alive” now, they must be relatively young; for if they were as old scientists say the rest of the solar system is – some
4.6 billion years – they would have long ago vanished.
The current theory of how our solar system was formed is known as the nebular hypothesis. According to the theory, after the big bang, a giant molecular
cloud collapsed in on itself due to gravity. During the collapse the matter began to spin. Most of the mass wound up being drawn to the center and
formed our sun. The rest escaped, and the spinning flattened the escaped mass into a protoplanetary disk out of which the planets were formed. This all
happened some 4.6 billion years ago.
In this scenario all the planets formed at about the same time - some 4.6 billion years ago. That's all fine and good - except for the numerous
pieces of evidence that we have that the universe is not in fact 4.6 billion years old. One of those pieces of evidence is the rings of Saturn.
According to scientists, after 4.6 billion years Saturn's rings should be polluted, black - covered with star dusk - the stuff Carl Sagan says we're
made of. But that is not the case. The rings are bright in shiny - they look pristine. Jeff Cuzzi, a planetary scientist at the NASA Ames Research
Center puts it this way:
First, they are bright and shiny like something new. It's no joke, he assures. The wide-spanning rings sweep up space dust (bits of debris from
comets and asteroids) as Saturn orbits the Sun. Rings much older than a few hundred million years would be darkened by accumulated dust. "The fact
that they're bright suggests they're young,"1
But there's a bigger problem. Saturn's rings are very dynamic composed of ice particles of all sizes - from particles smaller than sand to
boulder bigger than houses - flying around the planet at speeds that range from 20,000 to 40,000 miles per hour. These particles are
influencing Saturn's moon's gravitationally such that the moons are increasing in speed. The moons are increasing in speed and the ring particles are
slowing down. Eventually the moons of Saturn will be ejected from orbit and the ring will collapse back to the planet. According to Cuzzi that will
happen in the next few hundred million years. Or as Cuzzi puts it:
"During the next few hundred million years," explains Cuzzi, "the outer half of the rings will fall toward the planet, and the little moons --
called shepherd satellites -- will be flung away."2
The fact that this hasn't happened yet implies that the rings are not yet that old. So here we have two pieces of strong evidence that Saturn's rings
are young - less than a few hundred million years. But since the current theory of planetary and solar system generation requires billions of
year, instead of accepting the obvious, the many who do not want to accept a young universe are looking for excuses as to why the obvious is not true.
While scientists don't know how the rings were formed, some are speculating they somehow formed after the planet - since it is clear they can not be as
old as the planet is claimed to be. The problem with supposing the rings formed later for as a scientist, guesses must be backed by evidence. The
current theory for ring formation is a small moon was destroyed as it spiraled into Saturn.3 The problem with that theory: if the rings were
made from a destroyed moon, you'd expect them to be primarily made of rock. As it is, the rings are primarily ice (90%). So theories of rings from moons
are unconvincing. It makes a lot more sense to say the rings are young, but scientists don't want to go there - they need billions of year to maintain
current theories of planetary and solar system formation - and never mind the clear evidence.
1 Nasa Science and News "The Real Lord of the Rings"
2 Cuzzi, The Real Lord of the Rings
3 Robin Canup, reported by Atkinson, Nancy "Saturn’s Rings Formed from Large Moon’s Destruction"