Thursday, April 30, 2009

In the beginning

Cosmic atom (Georges Lemaître) is in some ways better expression than Big Bang (Fred Hoyle) because the study of the origins of the largest things known to man, galaxies and supergalaxies and entire cosmos, is actually study of the smallest things known to man - cosmology and astrophysics of early universe are essentially nuclear physics.

Initial state
Scientists have figured out the mathematics from the first milliseconds on but before that, in the beginning, defies science.

Was everything in a dot? What kind of dot and from where that dot??

Since there is no matter, no energy, nothing, Positivism and Logical Positivism tell us that we have no language to say anything meaningful about the initial state. Some say that there was nothing at all - but we have no ability to comprehend a state where there is nothing at all. It defies the structures wired into our brains.

Bible says that there was someone, the same One who is much later called the God of Israel.

Take a few good educated guesses: Hartle-Hawking initial state, string landscape, brane inflation, string gas cosmology, the ekpyrotic universe.

Things are not made at all easier to science by the realization that only about four percent of the energy density in the universe is visible by radiation. 22% is the rest is some strange hypothetical dark matter that we feel only by its gravitational effect. And a whopping 74% of the rest of the universe is dark energy, whatever it is. Or some even stranger component distributed diffusely in the space that we currently have no idea about.

Surely, CERN accelerator and FERMI accelerator and other fancy instruments humanity is able to build with enormous sums of money will bring much more information about the earliest universe.

So today scientists do not really know what most of the universe is made of. They have beautiful theories about dark matter and dark energy that we are unable to observe directly and intensive research goes on. Some day we will know more. But far behind us are those happy days of human optimism and faith in almighty Science when all explaining Newtonian physics and a small nice universe was known to us - or at least would soon be. That cultural and scientific era of optimism was crushed by us humans ourselves in the First World War.

So ... the astrophysicist and the cosmologist has most advanced tools of exploration to study that small fraction of the universe that is visible to us through some sort of radiation. The rest they examine in their brilliant minds with highest level of mathematical thinking.

But the zero moment, the initial state, seems to be even beyond our thinking.



after the Beginning

Plank epoch
was not a very long epoch. In our clocks it lasted for
0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 seconds.

Before you have counted the digits in that number (43) Planck epoch is already ancient history.

"If supersymmetry is correct, then during this time the four fundamental forces — electromagnetism, weak nuclear force, strong nuclear force and gravitation — all have the same strength, so they are possibly unified into one fundamental force." (quote)

So scientists are not all that far from the Beginning. And yet they are very far from it.

In fact, zero moment seems to be beyond scientific exploration and something that we cannot comprehend with our brains. We are creatures and find it hard to even imagine when there is nothing created and time itself does not exist.

So we wish the scientist great success in solving these most fundamental issues.

And we believe.

We believe according to the Bible that there was nothing visible. We do not know if there was something but we do believe that there was someone.

Everything was One.

His people, the Jews, insist on telling the world that also today He is One.

And the Christians have pretty strong writings by Jewish people who believe that Jesus is the King of Israel:

"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear".
Heb 11:3 KJVA

That someone has made Himself known to us as God of Israel whom the Christians call the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, who were all present before the creation of the world.

And cannot be studied scientifically.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

GRB 090423

GRB 090423 photographed by Gemini Observatory

The exploding star GRB 090423 was detected by NASA's Swift space telescope on 23 of April 2009.

It has red shift of 8.2 which translates into the distance of 13.035 billion light-years. This makes it the most distant and oldest star ever observed by us humans.

Light began to travel from the massive explosion when the entire universe was only about 630 million years old counting from the Beginning.

Swift Gamma Ray Burst telescope. NASA

Swift was launched into orbit by NASA in 2004. Is is a very smart instrument. It has three telescopes. One of them is just a sensor, an Alerter. It senses the massive gamma rays that come towards earth as a burst from exploding stars. The entire satellite swiftly turns towards the source of the radiation aiming both the X ray and the ultraviolet/visible light telescopes at the same exact point. Swift also alerts ground stations around the Earth that are participating in the program and they also move automatically towards the source of the massive gamma ray burst GRB.

After the warning wave of GRB light coming from the star may be visible for some days only and then dies out forever. There is no time to be wasted.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Superman - pseudo-Messiah from space

Classic Superman. Warner Brothers
The character was born 1932

The fictional cartoon character Superman has become one of the hallmarks of modern Western civilization. Superman was created by Jerry Siegel (1914-1996) and Joseph Shuster (1914-1992) in 1932. Today surprisingly many people know that Clark Kent, a humble newspaper man in Daily Planet, has romantic interest in Lois Lane. We are also aware of the horrible dangers of cryptonite to our beloved hero whose adventures are the more amazing the better movie special effects get.

In some sense Superman is a Western figure because there is something in his history that resembles the story of Jesus in the Bible.

As the story develops from comic book to other, from movie to the next one, we have learned about the humble parents who are taking care of this boy who arrived from the space, from elsewhere, and whose specialty is not so well known even to himself at young age. These "Joseph and Mary" take loving care of him but somehow he is different. And off he goes, from the telephone boot to the crashing airplane, the sinking ship, the train on colliding course, the falling child and voila! people are so happy and we all feel very satisfied that the catastrophe was avoided thanks to his X-ray vision.

Superman must have a mighty villain or otherwise the story would not be so interesting. Almost a devil like character capable of doing much evil is much more effective than some anti-Superman with equal powers and mischief in its mind.

Christopher Reeve (1952-2004) as Superman

Christoper Reeve (1952-2004) was in many ways the perfect Superman for the movies and most of us connect him to the character in the backs of our minds. His charisma, innocence and good looks combined to make a perfect mach with the cartoon character who was originally rather more robust and masculine radiating physical superpower.

After the riding accident Christopher Reeve
wanted to help others with spinal injuries


Theologically thinking, that wonderful person, in some ways the epitome of what is admirable in humans and their imagination, Christopher Reeve alias Superman sitting on wheelchair is a reality check to us all.

God is not detached from this world as we so often imagine in hope or despair depending on our relationship with Him.

There is a line that should not be crossed and need not be crossed.

So I write in great sadness about the riding accident that broke Christopher's back and put him in wheel-chair. And I write with great respect about his work after the fatal accident for the good of others suffering like he did.



de mortuis nihil nisi bene
I do not blame the actor Christopher Reeve. I blame those who wrote the script and made that Superman movie where the hero brings Lois Lane back to life by rotating fast around the planet causing time to go back.

This scene crossed a definite red line between fun and imagination and the reality of life and death. We people may not take it so seriously. Movie what movie.

It seems to me - and this is strictly my personal opinion - that God took rather seriously that humans are depicting an imaginary hero almost like His only Son.


John Lennon (1940-1980)

What was John Lennon missing? He had been given everything and more than a guy from Liverpool could ever hope. Money, fame, admiration and great future.

Why did he have to go and say "We are more popular than Jesus"?


Kurt Cobain (1967-1994)


And Kurt Cobain (1967-1994). After MTV Nirvana unplugged was there a young popular musician more respected than he? Why did he have to do that video that is perhaps the harshest mockery of Jesus dying on the cross created by our modern pop culture - a culture not exactly known for piety and respect for cultural values?

There is a thin but clear line that should not be and need not be crossed.


Word of God
Jesus was very clear about this. Let them mock me and call me crazy and a nuisance and a Samaritan or whatever. I do not seek my own glory and honor among the people of this Earth.

My Father does.


Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?

Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.

And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth.

John 8:48-50 KJVA

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sir Fred Hoyle - Black cloud

Space cloud caught in a strong gravity field
Hubble telescope image

The innovative and inspiring science fiction novel Black cloud (1957) by the famed British astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle (1915 - 2001) is also of great theological interest.

The subject he is talking about in this book concerns humans encountering superior intelligence.

In this case the superior intelligence is non-organic. A huge cloud is on the regular round in deep space and comes near our sun to get some additional gasoline to energy engines. This cloud imagined by Fred Hoyle happens to be intelligent.

And it is huge. So huge that its shadow is causing major distress to the inhabitants of planet Earth.

Desperate means are needed and a station is set up to communicate with the Cloud and to make it realize that all life upon Earth is about to be extinguished because of its presence. Why not to go to some other star that is not nourishing higher life-forms?

Sir Fred Hoyle (1915 - 2001)

The great theological point of interest in this fabulous imagination of Hoyle is the discussion between the man sitting on the station communicating with the highly intelligent Cloud. The intensity and speed of the communication causes our man to get brain fewer that nearly costs his life. His mind is not built to talk with the speed and power of a huge interstellar Cloud with its system of thinking.

The book ends happily, the Cloud gets the message and moves away not to destroy life on that 3rd rock from the sun it hardly notices.

Fred Hoyle was an atheist. But this book is a very challenging view and trip of imagination how it might be to meat a supreme being.

For the astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle saviour of humanity is an intelligent man who can talk sense to the threatening force.



Personally I think Hoyle's Black Cloud is an excellent introduction to Biblical hermeneutics and to the concepts of revelation.

God of Israel is way bigger than that black cloud imagined by Hoyle. We cannot see Him without dying on the spot.

But He has found a way to speak to the humanity softly and in a way that is not destructive in intellectual content and requirements of brain power. Rather in a soft and simple way that even a mentally ill or handicapped person can understand and loves to hear.

The Word of God lifts and does not destroy with the glory of Eternal God.

And yet - unlike that intelligent Cloud of imagination, the real God intervenes with life on Earth in very powerful way and expresses His will towards the tiny inhabitants of this planet who can all be destroyed just by a single little asteroid falling on its surface.

For He has made them.

Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.

He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.

A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.

He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.

Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:

I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
Isa 42:1-6 KJVA

Herschel and Planck to be launched soon, May 6 postponed

European Space Agency (Esa) has been working for twenty years on the Herschel telescope looking for infra-red light. It is been shipped to Kourou spaceport in South America to be launched to its orbit by an Ariane 5 rocket.

Pretty high it will go - 1.5 million kilometers from Earth.

In the same rocket will also be the Planck telescope that will look for micro-wave radiation.

That launch is going to cause some sleepless nights in Paris. London, Bruxelles, Berlin and elsewhere. Twenty years of work on Herschel plus the Planck with a joint value of 1.7 billion Euro.

One point seven billion Euro.

Just to study radiation from the Big Bang (and some other stuff of interest to astronomers)



James Webb. the Big One, in 2010 or so

Hubble is looking at visible light.

Herschel will be looking at infra-red light that is below the wavelength of our eyes.

Planck will be looking at microwaves.

Inspecting Herschel telescope. Courtesy of Esa.

British astronomer William Herschel (1738-1822) discovered infra-red light and the 3.5 meter telescope is named in his honour. Not one spot of dust is allowed in this surface and in the highly accurate instrument for which a distant 60 W electric lamp would be like a burning furnace.


Inspecting the Planck telescope. Courtery of Esa.

The very high-tech microwave telescope is named in honour of German physicist Max Planck (1858-1947) - one of the key scientists in the modern revolution of Theoretical Physics.

There is a very educational and clear page in BBC web site giving in depth details about the goals and methods of the Herschel project.


---

Let us think the worst and something blows those huge tanks of highly flammable liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen into smithereens during the launch at Kourou.

On the other hand, let us not even imagine that!

it is really one shot chance and the risks are enormous.

ESA has now informed that the launch planned for May 6 2009 has been postponed because of anomalies in the Ariane 5 rocket. They decided to check it again.

Wise move

Hubble telescope

Hubble telescope - amazing technical eye of the humanity
turned towards the space
(Hubblesite)

Hubble telescope is the brightest and most accurate eye for visible light humanity has ever aimed at the deep space.

In this blog we have discussed the first telescope constructed by those smart Dutch people and then by Galileo Galilei in 1609. For the first time humanity saw the four moons of Jupiter, the hazy stuff around Saturn and those black dots on the Sun that caused so much problems to Galilei with the christian Church.

We have taken a look at the construction of Mount Wilson Observatory were the biggest telescope of its time, the Hooker, was aimed at the sky above California and how Edwin Hubble realized that those nebulae are galaxies far away as marked by the Cepheids of Henrietta Swan Leavitt. He also confirmed and calculated the shift towards red that Georges Lamaitre had used to formulate the theory of the Cosmic Atom, Fred Hoyle's Big Bang.

So it is proper that the wonderful instrument, a telescope that orbits the earth over the atmosphere, was named after Edwin Hubble.

Hubble telescope has provided such a wealth of information to the study of the universe that it will take long time to digest it all.

It is nearing the end of its useful life. New, even more powerful space telescopes are on the way, but they will not take away from the glory of the first one, the pioneer that has revolutionized our knowledge of the deep space and the origins of the universe.

Hubble has its own famous web pages called the Hubblesite. You can get from there wonderful wallpapers to your computer that make you wonder the Creation and - hopefully - praise its Creator, the God of Israel.


Stars are born, they grow old and die
Hubble has given us unforgettable images of the universe

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sometimes it takes a Sherlock Holmes to figure it out

Camping

Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson go on a camping trip. After a good day of walking they retire for the night and go to sleep.

Some hours later, Holmes wakes up and nudges his faithful friend.

Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see.

I see millions and millions of stars, Holmes replies Watson.

And what do you deduce from that?

Watson ponders for a minute. Well,


Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets.



Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo.



Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three.



Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow.



Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful, and that we are a small and insignificant part of the universe.

But what does it tell you, Holmes?

Holmes is silent for a moment.

My dear Watson, he says, someone has stolen our tent.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Jesus: salvation is of the Jews

United Nations headquarters New York
where the nations come together

Today 20th of April 2009 the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, gave a speech in the United Nations Durban Review conference in Geneva 20-24.4. 2009. This international meeting is an evaluation of progress made after the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, in 2001.

Tomorrow 21th of April Israel mourns the six million during the annual Holocaust Memorial Day. The six million that President Ahmadinejad thinks is a myth created for political purposes by the Zionist enemy of the human race.

Today is therefore a good day to remember the extremely powerful words of the Man of Galilee to a woman from Samaria:

Salvation is of the Jews
John 4:22 KJVA

Words that are often forgotten by Christians and Muslims alike with such tragic consequences.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


What on earth do Jews have to do with the faith in God the Creator?

It is surprising how many intelligent people discuss God and creation of the universe without mentioning the Jewish people even once. As if this was a philosophical and theoretical issue to be solved by rational thinking concerning the probabilities. This mistake of leaving the Jews out of the picture is often repeated both by those who believe in God and by those who do not.

For He is God of Israel and not just some anonymous Superior Being somewhere up there.

And He is King of the Jews, the Messiah, not just some abstract religious character

IESVS·NAZARENVS·REX·IVDÆORVM



Marquis d'Argens

“Can you give me one single irrefutable proof of God?” “Yes, your Majesty, the Jews.”

Marquis d'Argens to Frederick the Great, 1779.


Frederick the Great (1712-1782)

This mighty quote by Philip N. Moore really makes one think the relationship between faith in God and the Jewish people. The question and answer are also mentioned in The Bible exposition commentary by Warren W. Wiersbe.

But did such a discussion ever happen?

For one, the date 1779 is eight years after the death of de Boyer which is suspicious.

Jean-Baptiste de Boyer, Marquis d'Argens, (1704-1771) served for many years the king of Prussia, Frederick the Great (1712-1782). Such a discussion is not at all impossible since king Frederick had Jean-Baptiste often to dine with him and they seem to have been dear friends. Prince Frederick was himself an atheist strongly influenced by Voltaire. Jean-Baptiste was also a philosopher of the Enlightenment and very interested in history and religion. Of particular interest in this context are his Lettres juives (The Hague, 6 vols, 1738-1742). He was a friend of the famous Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786) and apparently knew Judaism quite well. (Jews have a nice saying about Mendelssohn "there is no greater between Moses and Moses than Moses".)

The reference might be to the book: Zabuesnig, Johann Christoph: Johann Baptist von Boyer, Marquis von Argens, in: Historische und kritische Nachrichten von dem Leben und den Schriften des Herrn von Voltaire und anderer Neuphilosophen unserer Zeiten. Zweyte, vermehrte und verbesserte Ausgabe. Zweyter Band. Augsburg: Gebrüder Veith, 1779.

but I have not been able to locate it there.

Frederick had invited Jean-Baptiste de Boyer to Potsdam. "He was appointed to "Kammerherr" and Director of the Academy. However, Frederick was bitterly offended by his marrying a Berlin actress, Mlle Cochois. Argens returned to France in 1769, and died near Toulon on the 11th of January 1771." (quote)

Marquis d'Argens (1704-1771)

Disinherited by his father and thrown out from court by Frederick the Great. Something was clearly wrong in the choices d'Argens made during his life.

A prolific writer who nevertheless is not in the league of the great philosophers of his time Jean-Baptiste de Boyer is mainly remembered from the one word answer he gave to the question made by Frederick the Great.



Karl Barth
Karl Barth (1886-1968) is one of the greatest giants of 20th century Theology and his thinking is very influential in modern Christianity. A theologian of the Word of God he is well known for his massive commentary on the Epistle to Romans - Der Römerbrief - in the form of its second edition 1922.

Young Karl Barth (1886-1968)

In total clash with Friedrich Schleiermacher's (1768-1834) horizontal view of human religiosity into which Christianity is intimately tied Karl Barth proclaimed with dialectical force that God is revealed on the cross of Jesus senkrecht von oben - vertically from up. The revelation is paradoxical and originates from a reality completely out of this world. God cannot be allied with human cultures, histories and civilizations as Schleiermacher had done in his important treatise Über die Religion: Reden an die Gebildeten unter ihren Verächtern (1799).

In other texts in this blog I have emphasized that resurrection of Christ is a unique point where science reaches its limits as it does at the moment of death - the Biblical message is that in Easter morning Christ rose from the death as the firstborn of the world that is coming, the world that waits us after death, after the apocalyptic death of earth and beyond the reach of natural sciences.

In my opinion Karl Barth is right and wrong in his point. The cross of Jesus in Golgotha is something totally unique and very different from what the Jewish people expected from their King. They rejected Him and still wait for someone else to come as promised through the prophets of Israel.

But the cross it is not only God's revelation senkrecht von oben. It is also waagrecht von hinten. Biblical revelation comes to us from back, from the dawn of history, through a very long history of the children of Abraham living in the ancient Near East. It is the story of Jewish people from the times of Abram to the Roman period. Both the Old Testament and New Testament are written by the Jews. Jesus and his apostles including Paul, were all Jewish.

Well - if we draw a straight vertical line and cross it with a straight horizontal line that is what we get - a cross.



Looking at earth from space
Let us look at our planet from Voyager II near Saturn. How did God the Creator of all this make himself manifest to the inhabitants of that tiny third rock from the Sun in the photo?


Planet earth photographed from a point near Saturn

The answer is surprising.

He began to talk with a single human being in the city of Ur of the Chaldeans. One evening he took him out and they gazed the stars together.

After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.

And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

Genesis 15:1-6 KJVA




Who was speaking with Abram?

The Word of God.

And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying



Salvation is of the Jews.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Democritus and Epicurus - a random world?

Democritus (460-370 B.C.) the laughing Philosopher

Democritus (460-370 B.C.) is in my opinion particularly important among the many brilliant philosophers of ancient Greek for modern man trying to understanding this universe.

Firstly, he presented the favourite mantra of modern people "everything happens by chance". Obviously, it is an important issue also to Theology as it denies the existence of God. Democritus has been called the first materialistic atheist in western history. Nevertheless, he was a happy and balanced man to the point that he was called by others the laughing Philosopher.

Democritus presented the idea in his amazing nature philosophy that everything is made up of invisible particles, atoms, that cannot be further divided. These are constantly moving and colliding in totally random manner in the empty space (keenos) and their collisions create different kinds of groups that give all matter its attributes such as colour, hardness, taste or weight.

When Albert Einstein said in the 1920'ies that God does not play dice he was essentially protesting against the developing notion that that everything in nature is essentially randomized on the particle level and that quantum mechanics with Heisenberg's uncertainty principle has destroyed all causality and determinism at the deepest foundations of physical existence.

Secondly, Democritus is very important for the simple reason that he was thinking it all.

This philosopher is a truly classic example of the power of human mind and its fabulous ability to figure out things visible and invisible, invent, innovate, create and destroy, love and hate. It is obvious to all of us today that Democritus did not have any empirical instruments to study atoms. He was just thinking about them.

It is first and foremost human thinking that has revolutionized Physics in our times. Of course, Einstein had empirical evidence from the many experiments in electromagnetism by many 19th century scientists. But his theories of special and general relativity were nevertheless thinking trips he made in his mind. Throw in some mathematics. Some of his thoughts were empirically tested during his life time and others have been tested only later when the necessary technology has became available. Like Democritus, Einstein was essentially thinking how things are. When the theory was beautiful that was it. Experiments for and against his ideas came only later.

Epicurus (341 - 270 B.C.)

Epicurus (341 - 270 B.C.) took very seriously what Democritus was teaching about the pure chance at the foundations of all that exists. If everything is just random movement of material particles so nothing really matters. Nothing has any real purpose and life and death are just plain game of dice. So what should we do? Let us be happy! Let us eat and drink for we shall die tomorrow.

This philosopher established a Garden school in Athens that became quite famous and people from near and far came there. Since everything is just colliding atoms there is no need for social hierarchies. Women and slaves were as much humans as the free men of Athens and were allowed to join in. The ethics in the Garden school may have resembled modern day ethics in the big cities. For if nothing matters but happiness let us really be happy as Richard Dawkin and friends are telling us.

I believe that unconsciously a number of modern men and women have adopted similar ideas as Epicurus was teaching in ancient Greece. Since we are just a random product of natural selection in the tree of life nothing really means anything. Let us be happy, let us try to make the best of this short life given to us before our atoms mingle with the atoms of the universe and perhaps become future building stones in a bee or a crocodile or a tree or some other human being. Round, round, round they go, those atoms and life forms fighting for survival after some lucky mutation caused by random radiation from the space.

By the way, apostle Paul agreed in principle with the logic of Epicurus:

If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.
1 Corinthians 15:32 KJVA

He argues that if Christ has not risen from the death why bother martyrdom?

The same question of resurrection had also earned him many hearty laughs in Athens

Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.
Act 17:18 KJVA


Now, we have to realize the great intellectual power of Democritus and Epicurus, the strength of their amazing brains, the deep logic and the imagination that established the existence of atoms over two thousand years ago just in the mind.

Yet, both these philosophers were wrong.

Modern nuclear physics have demonstrated that there is nothing randomly about the atoms. They are masterpieces of harmonic order and design so admired by ancient Greeks. We only need to study the atomic tables of basic matter to realize this and the deeper we get into the atoms the more amazing is the order we see there.

And since atoms and molecules are not random at all the application of this chance principle to life by Epicurus was also built upon faulty foundations.

So is the life of many modern man and woman who still erroneously think that evolution is guided by random mutations and environmental factors and fail to realize the wonderful order that exists in the location of each and every amino acid in those marvellous DNA molecules.

Or perhaps they refuse to realize it because accepting the fact that God has created man and woman brings with it serious consequences. The fallacy of a dice throwing God or blind faith in atheistic materialism are convenient for us exactly because they let people to imagine that they have turned into something like God by themselves - the familiar song of the Devil from the Garden of Eden, the spirit of Prometheus.

Light and the origins of Quantum Mechanics

CERN LCH 2008 in Switzerland

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
Genesis 1:1-5 KJVA

והארץ היתה תהו ובהו וחשׁך על־פני תהום ורוח אלהים מרחפת על־פני המים
Gen 1:2 describes the initial state as an earth without form and shape (Hebrew tohu vebohu) and primordial waters of tehom over which the Spirit of God moves. The Hebrew verb used here for the movement, rachaph, indicates relaxed movement, like a bird could be easily fluttering over the deep.

"Let there be light!"

The first Word of Creation.

Light is the first thing that has been created.

I challenge you to study all the known religions in the world that are not based on Biblical revelation. Ancient and new. You will not find a parallel to this in any other religion. Only Bible tells about a personal God who says at the beginning let there be light. Then comes the rest of the short creation story in Genesis 1:1-2:3.

There is much pondering about light because it is an essential element in religion and considered the good and godly thing. There is much evidence about worship of the Sun, for example Sol invictus was the favourite god of emperor Constantine the Great and we have the oratorio of emperor Julian the Apostate to this Roman god. We have the fascinating hymn by Pharaoh Akhenaten praising his only god, the Sun on Egyptian sky. We know about Sun worship by the Inca in Peru and so on. There are important philosophical thinkers and students of nature who try to figure out what is light.

Pharao Akhenaten (died 1336 B.C.)
Worshipped only one god, the Sun, Aten

I challenge you to find anywhere out there this message in the beginning of the Bible that the first thing personal God created was light. Even before Sun and Moon were made on the sky above us to give us light day and night and to help us to follow the passing of time.


It is very important for modern day Jew, Christian or Moslem who believes in the God of Israel to realize the significance of light to the most fundamental scientific study of the nature. Light simply penetrates to the deepest secrets of modern Physics, Chemistry and its understanding requires very high knowledge of Mathematics, Theoretical Physics, Nuclear Physics and other sciences. And still there are many questions left.

The study of what is light has led to the Big Bang of modern scientific view of the world and is a most interesting and important field of research one can imagine, reaching from the tiniest particles in the atoms to the birth of millions of galaxies in the space.

James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879)

The wheels were set in faster motion in 19th century Scotland where James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879) was able to put together all what was known at that time about electricity, magnetism with optics! In other words, he noticed that also light is some type of electro-magnetism. Maxwell's Laws is fundamental theory of electromagnetism that could be tested experimentally. His work in electromagnetism has been called the "second great unification in physics", after the first one carried out by Isaac Newton. (By the way, Maxwell studied optics and took the first known colour photograph in 1861.)

By stating that light is electromagnetic radiation J.C. Maxwell opened the door to other scholars to start to explore this direction but the questions were quite thorny. Light is not a simple matter.

Karl Ernst Ludwig Marx Planck (1858 - 1947) was born in Kiel, Germany. Both his grand father and his grand-grand fathers had been professors of Theology in Göttingen University. His father was professor of Law in Kiel and Munich Universities. Already as a 10 year old boy he dropped the r from his first name and is today known around the world simply as Max Planck.

The fundamental idea this genius of Physics was the realization that any energy is radiated in packages he called quantum by the Latin word for "how great" or "how much". To be more specific, his quantum hypothesis states

Any energy is radiated and absorbed in quantities divisible by discrete ‘energy elements’, E, such that each of these energy elements is proportional to the frequency ν with which they each individually radiate energy, as defined by the following formula:
 E = h \nu = \hbar \omega\,
where h is Planck's Action Constant.


Max Planck photographed in 1901

This picture tells us more than thousand words! Formulating and validating the quantum hypothesis was not a picnic even to someone with the brainpower of Max Planck.

Light is not a simple thing.


Well. It took another genius to put one plus one.

Planck was himself thinking that he had just described attributes in the processes of absorbing and emission why shining light can eject electrons from certain materials but has nothing to do with light itself.
A German-Jewish worker in a patent office in Bern, Switzerland
photographed 1904 just before his Annus Mirabilis 1905

After some pretty heavy thinking Einstein said in 1905 that not only so. On the basis of Planck's quantum hypothesis Albert postulated that

light itself consists of individual quanta

Light is a particle. This idea is of such fundamental importance to everything we know about space and earth and atoms and galaxies that I give you the exact reference of this milestone in history of natural sciences

A. Einstein, Über einen die Erzeugung und Verwandlung des Lichtes betreffenden heuristischen Gesichtspunkt (On a heuristic point of view concerning the production and transformation of light), Annalen der Physik 17 (1905) 132-148.

That was some spark of light!

This article is one in the series of papers on Physics Albert Einstein wrote in 1905 and later humanity has learned to respect this time as the Annus Mirabilis - the miraculous year.

Okay.

So thanks to the work of so many people which culminated in J.C. Maxwell's understanding of also light as a form of electromagnetic radiation and the breakthrough concept of quantum presented by Max Planck and the spark of genius by Albert Einstein in 1905 it was understood by us humans that light is not just a wave but also a particle that has a measurable energy, a photon.

Wave-particle duality is an important aspect of light and other electromagnetic radiation and is one of the things that led to the modern science of quantum mechanics. It is one of the most fundamental fields of research in modern Physics and Chemistry with enormous impact on our understanding of God's creation.

But there was a teeny weeny little problem.

On one hand, Albert explained gravity in his general theory of relativity in such a way that it still puts people to gasp for air. On the other hand, he moved Planck's quantum hypothesis forward in such a way that it developed into a red hot new branch of scientific research called Quantum Physics.

The tiny problem is that the two theories do not fit so well together, relativity and quantum mechanics.

What can we do? Light, the first thing created by God, is not a simple thing.

Stephen Hawking with his daughter Lucy

Some of the most gifted modern students of Physics and Cosmology, like the famous Stephen Hawking, are busily looking for a great unification theory that would put the general theory of relativity and quantum physics nicely into a single theory that explains it all.


Scientists at work in Fermilab, USA

Well. They keep trying and build enormous particle accelerators to find that God's particle, Higgins particle, like now is going on in LHC 2008 at CERN in Switzerland and in the huge accelerator running in the Fermi lab in USA.

Join the group of scholars!

Find out about light and formulate a theory for gravity. Nobel price of Physics is surely yours if you succeed.

In a very interesting way the exploration of the biggest things in cosmology and astronomy has approached the study of the smallest things, particles and strings.

As Georges Lemaître said it: in the beginning there was a cosmic atom.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Synchrotron - useful light

Home of the huge Synchrotron Radiation Source
in Daresbury, Cheshire


This text is simply a reference to a BBC Science and Nature article that describes the synchrotron built in 2008 in Daresbury, Cheshire, to produce light that is 100 billion times brighter than X-ray.

Click here to read the informative news article in the BBC web site.

At £300m the Diamond Light Source is the largest investment on science made in the United Kingdom in the past 30 years.


Working with the Diamond Light Synchrotron

Light is indeed a fascinating thing.

Not simple at all.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Truth Trip


Chicago O'Hare airport early in the morning.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, readers of this blog, welcome to the Truth Trip!

Captain Kirk and his crew welcome you to spaceship Enterprise. We are ready to take off. Please, fasten your seatbelts, lift the table in front of you to upright position and switch off your mobile phones and other electronic devices. "

The polite passenger sitting beside me does as told and wishes me a good trip. I do the same while looking through the window at the airplanes ready to take off. People busily going to their travel destinations some for business, others to meet their family, some beginning their vacation this morning. The engines of Enterprise start humming and softly we start to fly towards the cloudy sky. After some time the bell says that we are allowed to open the seatbelts and the crew is already preparing a breakfast to us.

The stewardess has a nice soft voice and she tells us "our spaceship can reach near the speed of light so at full speed we would reach the moon in a second. However, we will fly very slowly first to let you enjoy the view of planet Earth from above the atmosphere and we will make two rounds around the moon so that you can enjoy the magnificent sceneries there."

Planet Earth from space

Oh how beautiful our planet looks from the space! We are all gasping at the sight and aim our digital cameras trying to capture the sight while sipping our coffee and tea. The engines of Enterprise are humming more strongly now and from time to time they shake the ship when slowly accelerating.

We do the two rounds around moon without incidents and continue our trip past the red Mars where NASA robots are still exploring the soil and looking for signs of water. We pass the orbit of mighty Jupiter being careful not to get too near and have soon passed the 1.400.000.000 km distance to Saturn. Again we admire the fine rings shining like jewels in morning sun. I ask for some more coffee.

Planet earth photographed from a point near Saturn

The passenger sitting beside me seems to know things. "Can you see that little dot there through the window?" he asks me. That is our planet, Earth. After a while of trying I notice it thinking what a miserable little rock, third from Sun, it seems from out here. I shake his hand only now and introduce myself "Sir, my name is Mikko. Nice to meet you". He shakes my hand politely without saying a word, which is a bit strange.

"I am a Christian and this view makes me to wonder" I continue. "Is Jesus Christ just the Saviour of the human race living on that insignificant dot amidst this ocean of space and billions of suns? A very local fellow?"

My friend is quiet for a while and answers then "Yes. Well, I would not call humanity an insignificant race, each individual living there has a name and is known to our Father by name. But yes, we can say that the address is

"Jesus Christ
Planet Earth
3rd rock from Sun
Milkyway Galaxy"

for there is the earthly body of Christ, it is the congregation made of Christians like you. Of course, there is also the invisible congregation of people who have already died but that is a bit mysterious."

I say to him "well, according to what you say, and I believe it is Biblical truth, Christ is travelling in this spaceship in the hearts of His own. Also, we have these Bibles with us, the Word of God, so He is here with us." My friend nods silently, looking thoughtfully at that tiny dot which soon disappears.

Artist's view of Kuiper belt
The loudspeakers wake up as we are told "Please, fasten your seatbelts, we are going to pass the Kuiper belt and our crew may have to do some sudden moves to avoid the asteroids." We all obey after we see through the window what is ahead of us.


After some bumpy road the spaceship returns to normal flight and we relax on our seats. The tour guide explains "We are now accelerating up to the maximum speed of spaceship Enterprise, which is near the speed of light. Our next destination will be alfa Centaur, the very nearest star next to our Sun. This part of the trip will take four and half years so, please, feel free to use all the facilities we have arranged for your comfort and enjoyment during the trip.

Artist's view of alpha Centaur, the nearest star to our Sun

And so we see from near another sun with our own eyes. It does not have planets of its own and we steer far enough not to get too deep into its gravity field. To be honest, a star is a star and after over four years of space travel the impact of this star on us is not all that strong. We have got used to them. Some iglu-effect is taking toll on our mutual relationships, as can be expected.

Our Milky Way galaxy might look a bit like this from outer space
Sun would be in one of the spiral wings

The loudspeakers are alive again and tell us

"Ladies and gentlemen, we are now moving out to the last leg of our trip to visit the outskirts of our nearest galaxy, Andromeda. From there we will turn back and return home. Our trip to Andromeda will last about three million years so we will be back in Chicago O'Hara after six million years".

Andromeda, our nearest galaxy neighbour in the Local Group
You can see it with your binoculars
I turn towards my friend to tell him that isn't the current scientific view of evolution of human race saying that starting from our earliest known ancestors in Africa we have existed only five million years. But he had gone somewhere. Surely, there would be a chance to ask him later.

I knew that when we reach back to Chicago earth time would have passed six million years. Perhaps my friend could tell me, how old we would be while travelling for six million years near the speed of light.

Einstein had said something in his theory of relativity about the relationship between matter, space, movement and time but I cannot quite figure out the mathematics.

Can you?

Enterprise on the trip to outer space

Well.

It was pretty lonely up there.

Maybe my Jewish friend from New York whom I had learned to know on board noticed that I was a bit upset and he came to me and simply told me to read Psalm 139.

So I said a little prayer in my heart and opened my Bible.

And yes, that psalm definitely made me feel much less lonely.


PSALM 139
O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.

Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.

Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.

Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.

Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men.

For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain.

Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?

I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:

And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139 KJVA


.... UPDATE July 2 2012
You can easily make this trip using Celestia software and see an exceptional 3D model of Andromeda M31. But dping so may give you may give you a somewhat wrapped impression about the time it takes to get there!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Let there be light!

ויאמר אלהים יהי אור ויהי־אור

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Genesis 1:3-5 KJVA

The first chapter of the Bible is amazing.

There is nothing comparable to it among the highest civilizations in the ancient Near East. We may read with great interest about Enuma Elish and Marduk and Kheper and that primeval mount and other first things that filled the ancients hearts with awe.

Why on earth would the P source replace the J source and the mighty contemporary battle between God and the forces of Chaos with these naturalistic seven days of creation and start everything with the creation of light? Well before Sun and Moon were created on the fourth day of creation?

I dunno.

But what I do know is that according to our contemporary view of the origins of the universe first there was light.

Initially, for a fraction of our second, a tiny dot and then such brilliant light that we still see it all around us in the space as cosmic microwave radiation and infra-red glow.

Light is all around us and it is a good thing because without it there would be just darkness.

We take it for granted and may switch our electric lamps or candles on and off without much ado.

But what is light, the first thing God has created with his mighty Word?


Eh?

Well. Most of us know that it is a really speedy thing, if possible even faster than Speedy Gonzales.


Wikipedia tells us all that the French physicist Armand Hippolyte Louis Fizeau (1819-1896) wanted to see how speedy.

In 1849 he set up a big mirror several kilometres away from where he was. He then aimed a beam of sunlight at this mirror. On the path of light to the distant mirror and back he placed a rotating cog wheel. He experimented with different rotating speeds and found out at which rate of rotation the beam would pass through one gap in the wheel on the way out and the next gap on the way back. Knowing the distance to the mirror, the number of teeth on the wheel, and the rate of rotation, Fizeau was able to calculate the speed of light as 313,000,000 m/s.

Not bad for a wheel with cogs. Today the estimate is 299,792,458 m/s.

So it takes Speedy Light about a second plus to reach us from the Moon. Light travels eight minutes plus to reach us from the Sun. It takes the whopping four and half years for Speedy Light to reach us from the nearest star Alpha Centaur. And something like two and half million years to reach us from the nearest galaxy Andromeda.

Light travels a lot!

But what it is?

Well, it took some of the best brains humanity has seen to figure it out and still we are kind of thinking what this thing is, light.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Yes, it was that Jewish guy born in Ulm, Germany, of all the places, who put one plus one. He told us that on one hand light is indeed waves as Christiaan Huygens and others had said. But on the other hand it is also made of particles, as Sir Isaac Newton and others had said. It is electromagnetism like Michael Faraday and James C. Maxwell had said. It is quantum like Max Planck had said.

Einstein said that all these guys had something right about light. It is all this in wave-particle duality: sometimes Speedy Light thinks it is like waves in water that pass obstacles by splashing around the corners and sometimes it thinks it is a rifle bullet, a particle called a photon. Wave and particle in the same time - duality, two natures.

Does that sound simple to you?

Me neither.

Does the basic building stone of the universe sound simple to you?

The same guy who said something very amazing with just four symbols E = mc2

There is no more famous equation than this. And as you know, c in this equation is the speed of light.

Albert was a very smart guy even if he did not finish his high school (or maybe because of it).



Light is not a simple thing.

It is an amazing creation.

The first thing God made.

Jesus Christ - God from God, Light from Light,
by whom all things were made

Nicene Creed

But there is also different kind of light that God has not created. It is born from God.

It is a matter of faith, not a scientific thing. The Nicene confession of faith says:

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds (æons), Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made;

Jesus Christ is Light of Light and the first thing created, physical light, was also made by Him.

"And God said" - Word of God.


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

John 1:1-5 KJVA

Here we are reaching a realm where our rational thinking starts to give way to songs of praise and prayer in the presence of the One, Holy Trinity.

And so we can start to listen to music composed in the words of the Bible, the majestic opening of Joseph Haydn's oratorio Creation. Leonid Bernstein once described the opening Chaos as one of the most awesome pieces of music ever written.

It is followed by the mighty musical Big Bang "Let there be light!"

During the first performance of oratorio Creation Haydn with his sense of humor was very happy how startled the audience was by the sudden Bang in forte fortissimo. It made the great composer smile when the ladies on the front seas dropped their hats from the surprise shock.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Georges Lemaître and the creation of the universe

Georges Lemaître (1894-1966)

Monsignor Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître (1894-1966) was a Roman Catholic priest in Belgium. Our Lord gave him faith and also some extra brain capacity: he was a professor of Physics in the Catholic University of Leuven and a gifted astronomer.

Lemaître was a pioneer in applying Einstein's theory of general relativity (1916) to cosmology. In 1931 he published in Nature his hypothesis of the primeval atom - a theory about the origins of universe, cosmogony, that is better known as the Big Bang. This catchy term was coined by the British astronomer Fred Hoyle in 1949.

G. Lemaître, The Primeval Atom - an Essay on Cosmogony (1950)

Catholic University at Leuven, Belgium

Please, notice the timing. This Belgian priest is thinking on the lines proposed by Albert Einstein and suggests Big Bang in 1927. This pipe smoking American publishes the velocity-distance facts observed in Mount Wilson in 1929 confirming Lemaître's basic ideas with accurate and reliable facts about star from distant galaxies.

Who is this guy?

Does anyone know that a priest was the first one to propose that there was a Big Bang?

His parents sent the boy to the classical Jesuit school, Collège du Sacré-Coeur in Charleroi in Wallonia, western Belgium. He was a brilliant student and already at the young age of 17 he was accepted to the University of Leuven to study civil engineering.

13 pounders at Ypres in 1917

But then something happened - First World War broke out and Georges was sent to the front as an artillery officer to keep the Germans out. It was nasty business. It was very nasty business.


Although he returned physically intact from the front decorated with Military Cross with palms, the man had changed. He left civil engineering and was now determined to become a priest. In addition to Theology he studied physics and mathematics in Leuven University getting a doctorate in 1920. In 1923 Doctor Georges Lemaître was ordained priest.

Our Lord guided the young priest with round eyeglasses to Cambridge where he studied the heavens above us as a graduate student. Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882 - 1944) was an important English speaking scientist who introduced Einstein's German work on general relativity to the hostile people licking their awful war wounds in the British Imperium. In 1919 he successfully tested Einstein's idea of the effect of gravity on light during an eclipse of the sun. Lemaître was captivated by this gifted teacher's views and adopted himself the great interest in Einstein's theories that were a hotly debated novelty at that time.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington (1882 - 1944)

Now Georges wanted to see the things by himself and took a steam boat across the Atlantic. From Cambridge to Cambridge, Massachusetts travelled he and there in the Harvard College Observatory studied the skies with the guidance of Harlow Shapley (1885-1972).

Pope Pius XII with professor and Mrs Harley Shapley 1952

They may have had much to talk besides Einstein's general theory of relativity and the discoveries made by Hubble with Hooker - for Georges was a priest and Harlow was deeply interested in the issues of religion and science. To his credit we can say that Shapley was an ardent critic of Immanuel Velikovsky. He was an active member in The Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS) and published in 1960 his Science ponders religion.

Ten scientists explained how they thought scientific and religious knowledge could be integrated... While there were a number of both scientists and clergy who held that religious truth was hardly susceptible of being approached by scientific beliefs, there was a strong recognition that today we can increase the scope and validity of our understanding of our destiny and our relationship to that "in which we live and move and have our being," not only by reading ancient texts, but also by building up the science of theology in harmony with other science. Science October 1 issue 1954


Space science and theology
Lemaître lecturing at Leuven

Well, back to home he travelled and back to work with a wealth of ideas in his mind. They matured in his remarkable publication in the 1927 issue of Annales de la Société Scientifique de Bruxelles. The paper was called Un Univers homogène de masse constante et de rayon croissant rendant compte de la vitesse radiale des nébuleuses extragalactiques and introduced the theory of the Big Bang.

By the way, Albert could not find any fault in his mathematical reasoning but was still against the idea of expanding universe. Georges boy was right, Einstein was wrong. Of course, he changed his mind later after meeting with Hubble at Mount Wilson and seeing the evidence first hand. But Lemaître was already there. Some priest we have here!

"Lemaître was then invited to London in order to take part in a meeting of the British Association on the relation between the physical Universe and spirituality. There he proposed that the Universe expanded from an initial point, which he called the "Primeval Atom" and developed in a report published in Nature. Lemaître himself also described his theory as "the Cosmic Egg exploding at the moment of the creation" (wikipedia)

I dunno.

Somehow it just feels good that the Big Bang theory was first proposed by a priest.

And God said "Let there be light!"
Genesis 1:3