Thursday, December 29, 2011

Good morning!

His Heavenly Father's sun!

Words of the Galilean 
He spoke some two thousand years ago well before modern tape recorders had been invented. But we do have written records of what people heard Him saying.

"Ye have heard that it hath been said, `Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy.'

But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you, that ye may be the children of your Father who is in Heaven.

For He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

For if ye love them that love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so?

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father who is in Heaven is perfect."
Matthew 5:43-48 KJ21

He maketh His sun to rise!
I like that sentence very much.

Let us remember that the one who is reported talking this way in Galilee is according to our Christian faith the only son of the God of Israel.

So it is so nice to hear Christ saying "His sun"

Indeed, it is His sun!

And even more nice to hear Christ saying "your Father who is in Heaven"

Indeed, the owner of that sun is also our Father!

Monday, December 26, 2011

The deep things of God

And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not stand on the wisdom of man, but on the power of God.
However, we speak wisdom among those who are perfect, yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, who are coming to nought.
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world for our glory -- wisdom which none of the princes of this world knew; for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.
But as it is written:

"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him."
But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit. For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
1 Cor 2:3-10

Apostle Paul wrote those words to the early Christians in the Greek harbour city of Corinth around 50 AD.

He is referring to a much older writing at the end of the Book of Isaiah that scholars often date to 6th century BC Palestine (so called Trito-Isaiah writing after the return from exile in Mesopotamia).

 Oh, that Thou wouldest rend the heavens, that Thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at Thy presence -- as when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil-- to make Thy name known to Thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Thy presence!
When Thou didst fearsome things which we looked not for, Thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at Thy presence.
For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, besides thee, what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him.
Isaiah 64:1-4 KV21

Or in the original Hebrew of Isaiah

עליהם לוא־קרעת שׁמים ירדת מפניך הרים נזלו׃
 כקדח אשׁ המסים מים תבעה־אשׁ להודיע שׁמך לצריך מפניך גוים ירגזו׃
 בעשׂותך נוראות לא נקוה ירדת מפניך הרים נזלו׃
 ומעולם לא־שׁמעו לא האזינו עין לא־ראתה אלהים זולתך יעשׂה למחכה־לו׃

Cosmic runaway train

Let us for once be honest to ourselves!

It is not nice, not nice at all, not knowing.

Even if we can do nothing about it knowing what is going to happen is so nice and gives us a kind of security. (Regardless of the truth of our knowledge - at least if we can convince ourselves that we know we feel better about it. So we pretend that we know... who cares!)

Take Death for example.

Your scientific mind "knows" that death is the end of everything and there is nothing after the death like those religions are suggesting. Back to energy and matter and particles to the never ending eternal cycle of existence. Dissolution of your mind which is just a feeble reflection somehow created in your brilliant mind, neural network of wires that fool you thinking you are something that can last beyond physical death.

Comfortable knowledge even if the disappearance of you may not be such an inspiring idea as those religious dreams of eternal existence!  At least you know - or pretend to know - and it gives you kind of security: "there is nothing anybody can do about it, at least for now, but at least I have a reasonable map of what will happen to me after I die."

Similarly, with our improved tools of observation we have learned from Edwin Hubble and Einstein and Co. that not only are those distant dusty spots galaxies not just spots of space dust as yesterday's scientists told us. No, they are galaxies much like our own, star islands, and there is an observable Red Shift that proves they are speeding faster and faster away an assumed point of origins with which it all began in a cosmic Big Bang; what we are watching are the bits and pieces of that bang flying away towards the limits of the universe.

Not that it makes much sense, that the entire universe began some 15 billion years ago in that Great Railway Station ready to start the trip of the existing Cosmos! Great Station that was actually an infinitely small dot... or something even before that where our science cannot reach.

How the cosmos could be in a dot nobody really knows but at least our observations have confirmed beyond doubt that we are flying away from such an assumed point.

But alas, knowing that was not enough for us.

It was not enough to abandon the old secure established scientific theory of universe that it is eternal, has always been and will always be. We knew that there is no beginning and no end so why not to leave it there?

We are so curious! We really wanted to know what is true so we built Hooker on Mt Wilson for that Mr Hubble to shake our security of knowing or pretending to know.

And now we are constructing even a bigger and better space telescope to replace the ageing Hubble (we = NASA and American tax payers) and they are planning to build that billion dollar Square Kilometre forest of antennas for the hugest radio telescope KAT-27 in South Africa or somewhere. All that money to satisfy our curiosity and to learn more about the Cosmos.

Would it not have been enough to know - or to pretend to know - that since there probably was a Big Bang and everything is now expanding as the Red Shift shows so perhaps gravity will one day bring it all back together to the first very condensed point, like a pendulum swinging back and forth, making the entire cosmos ready for its next cycle of universe n+1?

Everything being a kind of universal chewing gum ball?

Why do they have to study those Higgs particles and try to understand that basic force itself, gravity. It is not nice. We all know that when we drop the pen it falls to the floor. Why challenge our security?

And why did they have to observe that mathematical modelling of the cosmos suggest that there is unknown and hence dark energy and matter that is now supposed to be the big thing in the cosmos, not this visible stuff?


For now we find ourselves in a Cosmic Runaway Train with no breaks, no ability to do anything about it and - worst of all - NOT KNOWING where it is heading!

For if the acceleration of the expanding universe continues without good old gravity calling us all back to that original station we obviously will reach that feared speed limit of the cosmos, speed of light, and possibly go beyond it.

And nobody KNOWS what it is like out there, at those wrap speeds. Perhaps they know who already are there, inhabitants of the galaxy groups that have already reached beyond the speed limit.

But we are still here.

All we are about to die.

It would be so nice to know what happens after that.

Well, God of Israel has just told us that He makes new things. Improved things.

We do not know because He says they are beyond our comprehension.

So we just need to trust the only ONE who knows that things are going to get better.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Keppler 22b and Anomalocaris

 Keppler system. NASA 

Recently discovered planet Keppler 22b is orbiting its sun within the habitable zone as defined by astrobiologists. The surface temperature is comfortable 20° Celsius and there may thus be liquid water. Keppler system is some 600 light years from our Sun and is one of the more promising locations to look for signs of extraterrestrial life. In fact, a SETI project is already being developed to start listening for intelligent signals from that direction towards the constellation of Cygnus.

Communication problems
If there is life in the oceans of Keppler 22b how might those creatures look like?

There is no realistic hope that we would have space craft and robots visiting Keppler 22b in the near future. Space travel is a bit expensive.

Of course, we will be very happy if the intelligent folks over there start to send us images of their modern and ancient flora and fauna over some shared frequencies. But alas, the universal speed limit set by speed of light...

Even if a SETI project successfully establishes detects a cosmic radio station built by the inhabitants of Keppler 22b the good fellows will get and decode our earthly signals only in about 600 years from now that is in 2612. Of course, they will right away realize that the intelligent message came from that tiny planet X near that middle sized star and respond promptly in return mail. But even in that happy case we can expect their answers only in another 1200 years or about 3212 AD. Talking about long-term projects...

Options for extraterrestrial life forms

Anomalocaris. An artist's view
Credit Katrina Kenny/University of Adelaide, Australia

In order to find out some options let us take a 500 million years trip to another planet instead of distant Keppler 22b. That planet is also orbiting its sun in the habitable zone and has a surface temperature that makes presence of liquid water and thus life as we know it possible. The planet is located in the Milky Way Galaxy and scientists call it Tellus. A more common name is planet Earth.

We can get over 500 million year old signals of life from Tellus without using telescopes or turning the Hubble mirrors. Instead of detecting light signals that allow astronomers to analyse stellar spectra and through it the chemistry of the object we have actual specimens of other life forms available in what is commonly called fossil evidence.

Tellus has even today a most wonderful - although sadly dwindling - biodiversity. But when we examine the full known range of three billion years of history of life here we start to realize what a true paradise and what a rare planet our Earth really is in the local group of galaxies.

Cambrian explosion of life
When we travel those 500 million years back in time to young Earth - the explosion of life in Cambrian period we meet an extraordinary interesting and even fantastic world of God's creatures. One of the most fascinating pockets of survival of that era and protected for us by our good Lord is Burgess Shale in British Columbia, Canada.

Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History (1989) is a book on the evolution of Cambrian fauna by Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould. The volume was the 1991 winner of The Aventis Prizes for Science Books, and a 1991 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize..

Another pocket has survived in Kangaroo Island off the coast of Australia from where the fossilised exceptionally well preserved eyes of our example were recently discovered. The discovery is a truly staggering victory to the slow and patient work of Palaeontology. The remains show that the delicate composite eyes of the largest predator of the time Anomalocaris had over 16000 lenses letting it see underwater very sharply and almost in 360° degrees.

Not an alien
Anomalocaris is an anomality, as its name says, yes.  But no - this particular fellow is not an alien or extinct form of life on Tellus.  Even the not-so-highly educated but highly sympathetic friend of Forrest Gump, Bubba Blue, would immediately have recognized its shrimp like features.

Near and far relatives, cousins, nephews and grand-grand-....-children of the scary looking huge shrimp like anomalocaris share the planet today with us in the billions - biologists slump them all into a group called arthropods as they tend to have joint feet.

Dragonfly eyes. 

For example, the amazing dragonflies composite eyes with many thousands of lenses are technically not so unlike from the eyes of anomalocaris.

Subject for another blog
Because the subject of early life on planet Earth is so fascinating and complicated I will open another blog for discussions on Cambrian life.