Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Planet-hunting method explained - BBC

Gliese 667C Artist view
Another Space Theology bookmark Searching for planets

The findings of the University of Hertfordshire team are published on line.
The team started with data from three planet-hunting missions: HarpsAAPS, and HiRes, all of which had data on Tau Ceti.

Now, Hugh Jones of the University of Hertfordshire and colleagues have refined their "noise modelling" in order to subtract it, and thereby see the smallest signals hiding in the data - starting with Tau Ceti.

The trick to honing the technique was to put in "fake planets" - to add signals into the messy data that planets should add - and find ways to reduce the noise until the fake planets became more and more visible in the data.

"Putting all that together, we optimised a noise-modelling strategy which allows us to recover our fake signals - but in the process of doing that, we actually saw that we were finding signals as well," Prof Jones said - actual planets.
BBC News Science and Environment 18.12.2012

Rorschach blot from deep space (NGC 5189)

NGC 5189
Hubble Heritage APOD

Another spectacular Hubble image of what is possibly the explosion of one of the stars in a binary system.

"The Rorschach test (also known as the Rorschach inkblot test, the Rorschach technique, or simply the inkblot test) is a psychological test in which subjects' perceptions of inkblots are recorded and then analyzed using psychological interpretation, complex algorithms, or both.

Some psychologists use this test to examine a person's personality characteristics and emotional functioning. It has been employed to detect underlying thought disorder, especially in cases where patients are reluctant to describe their thinking processes openly. The test is named after its creator, Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach (1884-1922)."

So if you see in the Hubble image a Caribbean pirate or anything resembling a human skull do not worry - such a visual perception is probably not a sign of any deep hidden urge to become a buccaneer.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hubble image z=11.9

Image ESO

Another Space theology bookmark BBC news
Hubble astronomers have observed deeper into space than ever before.

In doing so, they have identified six new galaxies of stars that formed just a few hundred million years after the Big Bang itself.

The study also updates a distance estimate for a seventh galaxy, placing it further back in time than any object previously identified.

Called UDFj-39546284, this is seen when the cosmos was less than 3% of its current age.

The new Hubble telescope investigation was led by Richard Ellis from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and colleagues at Edinburgh University, including Jim Dunlop and Ross McLure.

Jonathan Amos BBC Science & Environment news 13.12. 2012 on current research Hubble deep space image

Sunday, December 9, 2012

God of Israel's outrageous claims

The Great Isaiah Scroll
Digital Dead Sea Scrolls
Israel Musuem, Jerusalem

There is no other foundation for the religious faith that God has created everything - including the cosmos and us in it - than the ancient Scriptures of the people of Israel. The foundation is not a logical, rational, scientific observation or deduction but religious faith based on God of Israel's outrageous claim.

The Jewish faith in ONE God the Creator is not based on rational deductions made by them while observing nature. The faith is not result of ancient Jewish philosophical and religious pondering of how things may have come into being and what is going on now.

The Jewish faith in creation is based solely on the outrageous claim of the God of Israel that He has made through humans writing and speaking in His name. Significantly, most of those who thus spoke in God's name received extremely hostile reception from the Jewish people. Tradition has it that Isaiah was martyred by sawing into two the hollow tree inside which he was tied and some have heard about the Man of Galilee.

Jewish ancient Scriptures do not only say that their God has created everything and is in control of everything both in nature and in human history, including who is the King of Persia. They make the outrageous claim that He holds His people ultimately and utterly responsible for words and actions in this life He has given in this Land - ties religious faith and individual and national ethics and moral.

Other religions, mainly Christianity and Islam, worship the God of Israel as the only real God there is. We are talking here about the majority of humanity currently living on planet Earth. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday humans all over the world here the proclaimed words of God the Creator claiming what is due to Him, so this is not a secretive God with obscure claims.

Let us listen to some of those boastful outrageous statements as they appear in Deutero-Isaiah dating to the times of Cyrus the Great of Persia who lived  600/576 – 530 BC. (Cyrus Cylinder so intimately connected with Deutero-Isaiah is coming to visit five cities in the USA in 2013.)  Oldest manuscripts of Isaiah known today can be studies online in Israel Museum Digital Dead Sea Scrolls.
Cyrus Cylinder British Museum, London wikimedia
Who speaks?
God of Israel.

“But now listen, Jacob, my servant,
    Israel, whom I have chosen.
 This is what the Lord says—
    he who made you, who formed you in the womb,
    and who will help you:
Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant,
    Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.
 For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
    and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring,
    and my blessing on your descendants.
 They will spring up like grass in a meadow,
    like poplar trees by flowing streams.
 Some will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’;
    others will call themselves by the name of Jacob;
still others will write on their hand, ‘The Lord’s,’
    and will take the name Israel.
Isaiah 44:1-5

What does He say?

“This is what the Lord says—
    your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb:
I am the Lord,
    the Maker of all things,
    who stretches out the heavens,
    who spreads out the earth by myself,
 who foils the signs of false prophets
    and makes fools of diviners,
who overthrows the learning of the wise
    and turns it into nonsense,
 who carries out the words of his servants
    and fulfills the predictions of his messengers,

who says of Jerusalem, ‘It shall be inhabited,’
    of the towns of Judah, ‘They shall be rebuilt,’
    and of their ruins, ‘I will restore them,’
 who says to the watery deep, ‘Be dry,
    and I will dry up your streams,’
 who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd
    and will accomplish all that I please;
he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,”
    and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.”’
Isaiah 44:24-28

"the Maker of all things"

"who overthrows the learning of the wise
    and turns it into nonsense"

he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,”
    and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.”’

... and more

How utterly outrageous claims!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wow, what a Herculean puff!

Plasma Jets from Radio Galaxy Hercules A

Take a Hubble image of Hercules A galaxy and superimpose on it a Very Large Array radio image taken in NRAO New Mexico, USA, and what do you get?

A spectacular astronomic photo that simply defies words!

(The matter of fact explanation helps to understand what is going on but perhaps only a poet using mythological themes could express the immense proportions and beauty in this phenomenal image.)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Tertullian De Anima (On Soul)

Early 3rd century Carthage was a hub of Mediterranean civilization. Roman's had rebuilt the city so utterly destroyed in the Punic Wars. In Late Antiquity it had grown into a major urban centre with a population estimated at about half a million. In addition to commerce - North Africa was the main source of wheat to Rome and produced more olive oil than Italy - Carthage was a renown centre of learning attracting students from near and far.

Tertullian (165 - 220 AD) had solid education and was well versed in classical Greek and Roman culture. After converting to Christianity he became an ardent defender of the new religion so fiercely persecuted by the Roman authorities. His Apologicum gives a vivid picture of the battle of spirits that was going on at his times. Unlike his compatriot St. Cyprianus, Bishop of Carthage, Tertullian was never called a saint nor given the honorary title of Church Father because of the many views he held that were rejected as unorthodox by the Church.

Ptolemy of Alexandria and Tertullian of Carthage
In his treatise on soul and other writings Tertullian gives us a splendid snapshot of what was moving in the minds of people in Late Antiquity and their views about the cosmos, visible and invisible. What is different is the use of Biblical argumentation as guide and the rejection of pure Philosophical thinking as source of knowledge about the world.

Tertullian's Latin texts on religion were written not long after Claudius Ptolemy (90-168 AD) had written in Greek on Astronomy in nearby Alexandria. Much in the same way as Almagest was destined to be definitive source on planetary movements for over thousand years, third century writings in Latin and Greek influenced Theology - and still do so today, consider, for example the teaching on Trinity discussed by Tertullian in his writings.

We can see in both from Tertullian and Ptolemy how anthropocentric the world view was. The cosmos had physical place for human souls after death and the future of the world is heaven and hell in Christian writings. The movements of Sun, moon and planets are intimately related with human existence, birth, death, health and sickness, war and peace, rulers and common people alike as expressed in Astrology, the science of those days.

All this prevailed and was accepted as logical and natural until Copernicus, Kepler, Galilei and their colleagues began to tell about their observations on what is up there. Astronomy changed first and Theology is changing.

De anima
Tertullian wrote a treatise on Soul - de anima - which is his authentic text. The discussion contains many interesting points not discussed here. Chapter LV gives us a glimpse how an educated Christian living in early 3rd century Carthage used Bible to understand the world in which he was living. For Tertullian knowledge was not to be obtained by Philosophy but rather he underlined the importance of the Scriptures and uses them to argue his case.

The treatise describes four compartments in the world we humans live.
1. Earth of the living
2. Hades secret recess deep underground (physically so), prison were souls are waiting for resurrection
3. Paradise - a VIP lounge for waiting the Heavens to open; only for martyrs.
4. Heaven that will open with the coming of Christ

The word infernum, hell, appears in connection with the descend of Christ (also in Nicene creed) but seems not to connect with Hades.

It is interesting that according to Tertullian the Stoic philosopher Endymions wrote that souls of the dead are around the Moon.

Tertullian's text
Chapter LV.-The Christian Idea of the Position of Hades; The Blessedness of Paradise Immediately After Death. The Privilege of the Martyrs.

By ourselves the lower regions (of Hades) are not supposed to be a bare cavity, nor some subterranean sewer of the world, but a vast deep space in the interior of the earth, and a concealed recess in its very bowels;

inasmuch as we read that Christ in His death spent three days in the heart of the earth, that is, in the secret inner recess which is hidden in the earth, and enclosed by the earth, and superimposed on the abysmal depths which lie still lower down. 

Now although Christ is God, yet, being also man, "He died according to the Scriptures," and "according to the same Scriptures was buried" [as a real human being. The formula appears 100 years later in Nicene creed.]

With the same law of His being He fully complied, by remaining in Hades in the form and condition of a dead man; nor did He ascend into the heights of heaven before descending into the lower parts of the earth, that He might there make the patriarchs and prophets partakers of Himself.

(This being the case), you must suppose Hades to be a subterranean region, and keep at arm's length those who are too proud to believe that the souls of the faithful deserve a place in the lower regions.

These persons, who are "servants above their Lord, and disciples above their Master," would no doubt spurn to receive the comfort of the resurrection, if they must expect it in Abraham's bosom. But it was for this purpose, say they, that Christ descended into hell [infernum], that we might not ourselves have to descend thither.

Well, then, what difference is there between heathens and Christians, if the same prison awaits them all when dead?

How, indeed, shall the soul mount up to heaven, where Christ is already sitting at the Father's right hand, when as yet the archangel's trumpet has not been heard by the command of God, -when as yet those whom the coming of the Lord is to find on the earth, have not been caught up into the air to meet Him at His coming, in company with the dead in Christ, who shall be the first to arise?

To no one is heaven opened; the earth is still safe for him, I would not say it is shut against him. When the world, indeed, shall pass away, then the kingdom of heaven shall be opened.

Shall we then have to sleep high up in ether, with the boy-loving worthies of Plato; or in the air with Arius; or around the moon with the Endymions of the Stoics?

No, but in Paradise, you tell me, whither already the patriarchs and prophets have removed from Hades in the retinue of the Lord's resurrection.

How is it, then, that the region of Paradise, which as revealed to John in the Spirit lay under the altar, displays no other souls as in it besides the souls of the martyrs?

How is it that the most heroic martyr Perpetua on the day of her passion saw only her fellow-martyrs there, in the revelation which she received of Paradise, if it were not that the sword which guarded the entrance permitted none to go in thereat, except those who had died in Christ and not in Adam? A new death for God, even the extraordinary one for Christ, is admitted into the reception-room of mortality, specially altered and adapted to receive the new-comer.

Observe, then, the difference between a heathen and a Christian in their death: if you have to lay down your life for God, as the Comforter counsels, it is not in gentle fevers and on soft beds, but in the sharp pains of martyrdom: you must take up the cross and bear it after your Master, as He has Himself instructed you.

The sole key to unlock Paradise is your own life's blood. You have a treatise by us, [de Paradiso is one of Tertullian's lost works], in which we have established the position that every soul is detained in safe keeping in Hades until the day of the Lord.
Anti-Nicean fathers Vol III Translation Holmes 1870

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Water on Mercury, Moon, Earth

North pole of Mercury with icy areas marked in yellow Image NASA APOD
Water is a very fundamental thing in Nature. The Bible does not say that God created water. Rather, it is there right in the emptiness of the beginning and the Spirit of God hovers bird-like over the waters of deep before there was light.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
Genesis 1:1-2
Giving scientific explanation to the presence of water on planet Earth is a real challenge.

It has been suggested that meteorites hitting the surface of Earth are an important and perhaps the main source of water found on our planet. The discovery of icy planets orbiting the outer giant gas planets in our Solar system gives credence to such a view - we know that "there is waterout there".

The recent discovery of water in planet Mercury by MESSANGER cameras is illustrated in the APOD image above. The region of north pole where "radar bright" reflections suggest the presence of ice is always in the shade and colder than -280o F, -173C. Yellow color is used in the photo to mark crater walls that may contain frozen water.

This discovery of water in Mercury adds credibility to the theory that water may be transported around in the Solar system by meteorites and that a large heavenly water-carrier may have brought the water that covers most of Earth's surface.

Many questions remain, however. I think that particularly important is the fact that the geology of the tectonic plates under Earths' oceans is different from the geology under continents.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Universe today - on youTube!

Another Space Theology bookmark Universe today 

such a good use of youTube technology!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

DAWN a Journey to the beginning of the Solar system

Image: The Dawn Mission

Another Space Theology bookmark The Dawn Mission 

The educational WEB site patiently explaining the various aspects of the DAWN mission to students is another example of the kind generosity of NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratories JPL towards the general public. The site has taken much work to complete from several people but now its there and anyone interested can benefit from it for free.

The rich pages designed for visitors with different backgrounds and interests include also an educational section with guidance to teachers, student reading, Power Point presentations, interactive model of the ion engine, other multimedia materials, links to additional information, and a well-designed page structure and hierarchy supporting it all.

Going through the materials will significantly raise our awareness of the goals of the DAWN mission and deepen our understanding of the technologies required in order to accomplish this mission impossible!

What a great use of Web technology!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Astrotheology - an interim report

Image: Christian Book Review

By now I have studied for three years publicly Space Theology (Astrotheology) using this blog as the main tool. Below are only some observations on what and whom I have met on this for me absolutely amazing study tour into God's Universe (or is it Multiverse?).

Let there be light! Gen 1:3.
The scientific era of humanity is fundamentally based on our growing understanding of physical light and its properties. Space research has expanded "light" way beyond the visible spectrum but it is all in the photon.
Let religion be religion and science be science
Divine revelation in the holy Bible is the foundation of Judeo-Christian faith in Creator, One, the God of Israel.
Careful observation of Nature, experiments and theory formation are the foundation of scientific astronomy and cosmology.
Let them be what they are and let the chips fall where they fall.
Personal study of scientific astronomy and cosmology is sine non qua
Astrotheology makes only sense as theological analysis of the significance of scientific discovery and exploration to religious world view and faith in God the Creator.
The driving force in Astrotheology is the fascinating adventure of fast developing space sciences with all the consequences it has to earthly sciences and belief systems.
Landmarks on my way - NASA and APOD
I have been deeply impressed by the generosity, enthusiasm and professionalism of NASA educational reach towards the public and it has been for me as a student of crucial importance. As a foreigner I also have benefited from the excellent educational programs of the USA National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Astronomy Photo Of the Day APOD has been and continues to be a great visual learning tool.
European Space Agency ESA is doing the same but is much more introvert than NASA.
There are numerous institutions and organizations sharing tools and information with the public. Only small part of them I have listed as recommended sites.
Chinese and Russian space exploration publicity campaigns and programs are in languages that I do not understand.
Landmarks on my way - Jim Kaler and stellar astronomy
Professor Kaler's STARS has been for me of crucial importance in learning stellar astronomy. Kaler not only gives facts but helps us as a patient teacher also to understand those facts. Especially significant has been learning to understand stellar nuclear physics and chemistry.
Landmarks on the way - Hayden planetarium Digital Universe
Working with the Digital Universe software developed and so generously freely distributed by Hayden planetarium Rose Center for Earth and Space was a real challenge. Mastering partview and going through the educational materials were for me, however, a turning point in understanding astronomy.
Landmarks on my way - Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan may be the prophet of new atheism but his personal voyage to space exploration and also his observations of human relationship with cosmos are brilliant and inspiring also for a believer. Exemplary for me is the way Sagan integrates everything and presents practical and highly significant conclusions of his findings from Nuclear Winter to the beautiful "We are all made of star dust".
Landmarks on my way - Jonathan Amos BBC
BBC Science correspondent Jonathan Amos has the ability to complicated space science news in exceptionally clear and interesting way and has been of greatest value. His news articles have often been for me a stepping stone to further study the subjects in question. Also in this way Amos has been an invaluable guide to the current state of affairs in space exploration.
What would be the most important thing I have learned so far?

Humility, I think.

When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?
Psalm 8:3-4 NIV

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

BOSS data and dark energy

Another Space Theology bookmark

Quasars illustrate dark energy's roller coaster ride
By Jonathan Amos
Science correspondent, BBC News
13 November 2012

Very clearly written article on a difficult theoretical subject!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

HD 40307 Habitable zone

HD 40307 g in habitable zone
Tuomi et al. 2012 Fig. 17

The schematic image shown here is highly educational to a layperson like me. The expert article from which it is taken is aimed at professionals and contains several highly technical graphs describing the observations made by a new technique in hunting planets outside our solar system.

The image is copied from an article describing the discovery of a rocky planet in the habitable zone around HD 40307 located some 42 ly from Sun. Mikko Tuomi,  Guillem Anglada-Escude and colleagues suggest that the superearth might have liquid water.

Another Space Theology link:
Read the entire article in pdf form

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Creator, me and Universe

Space baby

Psalms 139 and 8 set nicely in the same axis the praise and glorifying of God not as an impersonal power but as a loving and caring Abba, our Heavenly Father.

And indeed, the two miracles of creation go hand in hand, the belief that God has created me and the belief that God has created the Universe.

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
Psalm 139:13-14 NIV

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
Psalm 8:3-4 NIV

Saturday, October 27, 2012

An Atlas of the Universe

Another Space Theology link The Atlas of the Universe

This web page created by Richard Powell. Last updated: 30 Jul 2006.

"This web page is designed to give everyone an idea of what our universe actually looks like. There are nine main maps on this web page, each one approximately ten times the scale of the previous one. The first map shows the nearest stars and then the other maps slowly expand out until we have reached the scale of the entire visible universe."

Bravo! Very clear and highly educational.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dr Scharf - Astronomy should be compulsory

Dr Caleb Scharf
Astrobiology Columbia University

In BBC Future October 25 2012, Caleb Scharf, the Director of the Astrobiology Center at Columbia University, says: "We should all learn basic astronomy training compulsory"

I say: Amen!

Except that the proposal should be positive, not police-state like "compulsory with annual audit" however small.

What about something like this "Astronomy should be included as a compulsory subject to all elementary school curricula in every country of the world"

and then to go on to produce educational materials about Astronomy that school children all over the world would love to study - regardless of religion or lack of it!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cosmos and spiritual reality

After the shock of Albert Einstein physicists have been considerably less rigid about what is going on in the material world. It sometimes seems that the weirder the theory the more interesting it is to at least some scientists. Newtonian world was so neat and predictable! Today there is uncertainty even about Heisenberg's uncertainty.

Researchers do not find it overly difficult to calculate stranges and tops and colors nor the theory of 11 dimensions or multicosmos.

In contrast, there is great difficulty in dealing with multiple layers of reality and the possibility of different spheres of life itself.

Spiritual reality is beyond mathematics and experimental science and this is taken by some as proof that there is no spiritual reality.

I find this rigid materialism somehow surprising in light of the obvious fact that human beings are spiritual beings and differ in this from all other creatures upon Earth as far as we know. Or have you heard dolphin discussing global warming?

So why such dogmatism about something we have hardly even started to study scientifically and know next to nothing about?

How come you can doubt and thus exist, as Descartes famously noted.

"Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being."
Genesis 2:7 NIV

Monday, October 22, 2012

Where is Heaven?

Dante Paradiso. Canto 31
Image: Tahuti Lodge

Knock, knock knocking at heaven's door

Scientific instrument help us to see deep into the distant space. Humanity has recently captured photons that started their travel through space-time continuum over 13 billion years ago.

But no heavens door, no bands of angels and saints marching in nor the throne of God in any telescopic observations!

According to the Soviet propaganda machinery Jury Gagarin made that unfortunate statement already after the first manned space flight "I did not see God up there".

So where is heaven?

Medieval times
Some say that the view of world in Medieval Europe was relatively simple as geocentric world view ruled, everyone knew that heaven is up, here on earth we toll in our daily work surrounded by a sea that ends in the great unknown and that the fiery hell is down waiting for Devil and godless people. In this three store structure the Christian church was down here on earth showing way to heaven.

But such a sketch of a supposed scientific/religious Medieval world view is a gross oversimplification. For rain fell from clouds in heaven where Sun and Moon and stars moved in physical spheres. But the Church was teaching that heaven was not there but would be reached after death by the grace of God.

Perhaps it was not so clear in people's minds where heaven is, somewhere up there as the hell is somewhere down there but not exactly...

I think not much has changed from those days among believers who ask where heaven and hell are physically located.

Dante's Heaven  
The imagery of heaven and hell and the structure of the cosmos was surely much affected in European minds and hearts by the masterpiece, Divine Comedy written by Dante (1265-1321). However, also here the three-tired structure of things are not depicted as physical reality but as a powerful visionary view of things facing humans after death.
The Divine Comedy describes Dante's journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio), and Paradise (Paradiso), guided first by the Roman poet Virgil and then by Beatrice, the subject of his love and of another of his works, La Vita Nuova.

While the vision of Hell, the Inferno, is vivid for modern readers, the theological niceties presented in the other books require a certain amount of patience and knowledge to appreciate. Purgatorio, the most lyrical and human of the three, also has the most poets in it; Paradiso, the most heavily theological, has the most beautiful and ecstatic mystic passages in which Dante tries to describe what he confesses he is unable to convey (e.g., when Dante looks into the face of God: "all'alta fantasia qui mancò possa"—"at this high moment, ability failed my capacity to describe," Paradiso, XXXIII, 142).

Dante realizes that there are things in which human knowledge based expressions, everyday language, scientific observation so to say, is not sufficient.

So what does the Bible say?

As usual, the matter is far from simple.

Genesis 1
Genesis was written in the Iron Age over 2500 years ago. It tells how God of Israel sets up something called in Hebrew raqi'a and translated in King James Version as firmament - something strong that separates heaven and earth, the waters above and the waters below it and in which God sets Sun, Moon and the stars to give light and to show time and seasons.

Genesis 1 is rather secular natural history and does not talk at all about the heavens where God has His throne.

Also the Garden of Eden is not heaven in Genesis 2-3. Rather, it is a wonderful garden planted by God for Adam to live with his Eve (paradisos, from "garden" in Persian). After breaking God's divine order they walk east of Eden and the road back is blocked by a cherub with a fiery swindling sword in its hand.

Isaiah sees the throne of God in a throne (Is 6). He saw this powerful vision at the time when king Ussia was ruling in Jerusalem. Not a physical visit to a place somewhere up there above the clouds.

In the so-called Trito-Isaiah it is written

Thus saith the Lord, “The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Where is the house that ye build unto Me? And where is the place of My rest?

For all those things hath Mine hand made, and all those things have been,” saith the Lord. “But to this man will I look: even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word."
Isaiah 66:1-2 KJ21

Wonderful night at Bethlehem
The language in the story about the shepherds of Bethlehem in the Gospel of Luke is interesting
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!”
And it came to pass, when the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which has come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”
And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
Luke 2:8-16 KJ21

Saint Paul
In New Testament Letter to the Corinthians St Paul visits Paradise "whether in flesh or not he does not know". Paradise still exists but obviously not in the regular physical realm of humanity where you could take a caravan with enough water and food for the trip to heaven. Also the language spoken there was something else.

Saint Paul speaks of several stores in the structure of heavens.
It is doubtless not expedient for me to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord:
I knew a man in Christ more than fourteen years ago (whether in the body I cannot tell, or whether out of the body I cannot tell — God knoweth). Such a one was caught up to the third Heaven.
And I knew such a man (whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell — God knoweth),
and how he was caught up into Paradise, and heard unspeakable words which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
Of such a one will I glory, yet of myself I will not glory, except in mine infirmities.
2 Cor 12:1-5 KJ21
Note how Paul is humble even when boasting, not Seventh Heaven but third!

Book of Reveleation
This is a big subject but as the entire book is a great vision we are not in the realm of earthlings observing what's up there in the sky!

So where is Heaven?

Astro sciences - The Great Reversal of View

By adding the prefix "astro" to the common name of some branch of science we indicate that the focus is on space research

astro comes from the Greek word for star astron

Astrobiology - studies life in Solar system and in deep space
Astrochemistry - Chemistry
Astrophysics - Physics

and so on

similarly, we can use Astrotheology for branch of Theology that focuses mainly on the impact of space research on our religious heritage.

The Great Reversal
The rather surprising development in astro sciences is the reversal of roles. "Earthly sciences" familiar to us from the Antiquity are suddenly seen as special cases of events that originate in the Cosmos.

The cosmic scale diminishes the terrestrial observations and experiments and provides a magnificent open world of which the earthly things are specific examples.

Let us take astrochemistry as an example - since mid 20th century scientists have suggested that the elements in the periodic table are actually made in stars. Planet Earth is made of star dust that contains the elements blowing in cosmic winds.

Thus, astrochemistry provides a grandiose supernovaic explanation to how atoms are created by processes of fission and fusion in deep space. They are not just bright flashes of light that might interest a Kepler or two, but actually fundamentally important universal processes making matter as we know it.

In the same way, focus on the search for the origins of life has moved as Astrobiology develops and today scientists are again taking a serious look at the Theory of pansperma suggested by Sir Fred Hoyle  and others.

What reversal in Theology?
As humanity is learning more about the enormousness of Cosmos it is experiencing a collective humbling effect - planet Earth and its inhabitants is not visible very far in the near space and the Sun it rotates is not a crucial player in the Milky Way Galaxy.

With this comes a religious reversal of the role of Jesus Christ, the King of the Kings and the one given power on Heaven and earth. I wrote some texts about Le Petite Prince ruling a rather tiny planet in the vast garden of stars of the Heavenly Father. Also, this reflects in the rational in the confession of Athanasius and the controversy of Arian claim that Father is greater than Son.

And many other things are set into totally new focus, especially the world view - where is heaven and where is hell? as well as the apocalyptic message of the Bible that all is going to come to an end and there will be a change.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

CERN Oct 15 2012 meeting - some personal comments

An image of data recorded at Cern during experiments is search of the Higgs boson (c) Cern
The discovery of a "Higgs-like particle"
preceded this religious and scientific meeting

BBC News article
Victoria Gill from BBC News summarizes the CERN meeting of scientists, theologians and philosophers nicely in her article Big Bang: Is there room for God?

The main conclusion of the event has been simple: keep talking.
"We face a problem in our culture of hyperspecialisation," says Dr Pinsent.
"This ignorance of other fields can cause problems, like a lack of social cohesion.
And although Prof Krauss said the meeting felt at times like "people who can't communicate trying to communicate," even he sees some value in this somewhat esoteric exchange.
"Many people of faith view science as a threat," he said.
"I don't think science is a threat, so it is useful for scientists to show that they don't necessarily view it that way."
As one contributor put it during the meeting: "Religion doesn't add to scientific facts, but it does shape our view of the world."
And since Cern is searching for clues about how that world came to exist in the first place, it wants to see how its discoveries might fit into any world view.
BBC News

My comments
Here are some short comments from a theologian who is interested in space sciences as they are and believes that it is pure science working according to its own ground rules that best glorifies the name of God of Israel by showing the wonders of what He has done.
(The quotes are from the cited BBC News article by Victoria Gill)

1. Not a God of the Swiss cheese
But even the idea of a "time before the Big Bang" is impossible territory for physicists.
It is a zone of pure speculation - before time and space as scientists understand it came to exist, and where the laws of physics completely break down.
So does that make it a realm where science and religion can come to an understanding?
The idea underpinned in this line of thinking is that there is room for God only in the areas that science cannot explain.

The "Swiss cheese holes god" is simply stupid but surprisingly prevalent. As if scientific explanation of the first seconds after Big Bang already replaces the Creator by anonymous Laws of Nature that nobody has set!

However, it is the outrageous claim of the God of Israel Himself that He has created everything that I believe in Creator. Personally I do not believe because of results of some scientific inquiry that supposedly prove there is a divine mind behind all this.

I do not think that Stephen Hawking is qualified to answer the question "is God necessary".

(Mind you that many other believers who present Intelligent Design and who have much higher IQs then I have do claim that studying the works of creation proves that there is a Heavenly Watchmaker).

2. Religious people know already, scientists ask
Alas, this is often true statement is a powerful message to all religious people - sit down and to start to study what scientists have asked and what answers they have found. Learning more about the works of God is not easy, it takes years of study in any field of knowledge and even after that there are many unanswered questions, thank God!

I think Einstein put it nicely when he said "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind".
""The power of science is uncertainty. Everything is uncertain, but science can define that uncertainty.
"That's why science makes progress and religion doesn't."
 Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist and director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University
But the suggestion that science and religion are fundamentally incompatible was a point of contention during the meeting.
3. The mystery of human soul and spirit
John Lennox, professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford, is also a self-declared Christian. He thinks the very fact that human beings can do science is evidence for God.

I would personally never use the expression "evidence for God" as it is rather problematic perhaps even blasphemous. But Professor Lennox points at the mystery of our ability to THINK and then to OBSERVE. In my words, pure mathematical thinking has often preceded scientific discovery - take, for example, the evidence possibly now found for the existence of the Higgs boson that was mentioned as one of the reasons for having this conference.

Thinking before observation! What a divine spirit we humans have been given to understand God's wonders!

For I see Thy heavens, a work of Thy fingers, Moon and stars that Thou didst establish.
What is man that Thou rememberest him? The son of man that Thou inspectest him?
And causest him to lack a little of Godhead, And with honour and majesty compassest him.
Psalm 8:3-5 YLT

4. Depth of language
Prof Heuer said he wanted the participants to "develop a common understanding" of one another's' viewpoints.
But even exchanging ideas was, at times, tricky; scientists and philosophers often speak a very different language.
Andrew Pinsent is research director at the University of Oxford's Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion. He is also a trained physicist who once worked at Cern.
"We have to educate one another in the terms that we use," he says.

The importance of praising God of Israel for His marvelous deeds
According to Saint Paul letter to the Romans our job is to praise Him for the wonders of His works. Let us rejoice in Him while we put the fruits of our research into use for the benefit of humanity and not waist brilliant minds to trying to prove that there is no need for God.

For that line of thinking and disbelief has led humanity from one idolatry to another, from worshiping insects and sun to kneeling in front of the Great Leader of the German People or Father Sun or Mister Mao and other awful monsters.

What is even worse, according to Saint Paul, not worshiping God and praising Him for the wisdom and glory of creation is met by rejection of humans by God.

What kind of rejection is that, who cares!

Well, we should care, because God rejects those who reject Him and worship idols by stopping the work to save them from sin. No more divine will how to live as He wants, no more divine call to repent from our evil ways, no more gospel that He forgives.

Abandoned to living freely as humans without God! The worst fate there is.

So let us praise Him and listen to His Word and do good science!

Praising the Lord, knowledge and ethics
This is what Saint Paul wrote about 2000 years ago to the early Christians living in the center of civilization of Rome.

Rough stuff.

For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believeth, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith; as it is written: “The just shall live by faith.”

[The crime - worship of idols]
For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness, because that which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God hath shown it unto them.

For from the creation of the world the invisible things of Him are clearly seen, being understood through the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.

For when they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God, nor were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man, and to birds and fourfooted beasts and creeping things.

[The punishment - given up to "freedom"]
Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies among themselves. They changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature.

And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men, working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense for their error which was meet.

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind to do those things which are not fitting, being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity. They are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, spiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affections, implacable, unmerciful.

And knowing the judgment of God, that those who commit such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but have pleasure in those who do them.
Romans 1:16-32 KJ21

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

ALMA - First published picture Oct. 3 2011

ALMA First published picture
Image of the day October 3 2011

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.

They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.

Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
Psalm 19:1-4 NIV

Instrumental importance of ALMA

Humanity has LEARNED to know the physical environment in which it exists mainly through OBSERVATION.

Human senses, eyes, ears, nose, taste, touch, weight are spectacular but they are made for the immediate environment surrounding us. Senses are limited in order not to overwhelm us but to provide vital information about that crouching tiger nearby or the warning sound of a rattlesnake - not to speak of the skin burning heat from the gas stove.

Galileo Galilei
Galilei's telescope
Made by Hans Lippershey 1608
Only rather recently those crafty Dutchmen figured out that joining pieces of glasses - such as used on eyeglasses invented before - as a set on line in a tube it is possibly to magnify small items (microscope) or see distant objects (telescope).

Modern science is often considered to have began with the OBSERVATIONS through the looking glass made for Galileo Galilei.

Common binoculars beat the power of Galilei's instrument but few users of modern binoculars have his UNDERSTANDING of what they see through them.

Hooker. Mt Wilson APOD

Better INSTRUMENTS gave better view of things near and far, small and big.

Edwin Hubble's OBSERVATIONS through the venerable 100 inch Hooker on Mt. Wilson changed humanity's perception of the Universe.

What had seemed like dusty clouds in the Universe consisting of Milky Way and about 100.000 ly in diameter got specific - often spiral - shape when seen on photographs taken through the Hooker.

It is not just the INSTRUMENT but also the human person who uses it and UNDERSTANDS what he or she sees.

Edwin Hubble noted that there is a shift towards red in the color photographs and understood this on the basis of the work of Mr Doppler.

Hubble Space Telescope

HST wikimedia

When the telescope is lifted on orbit above the atmosphere WYSIWYG gets better.

There is no need to explain in detail how revolutionary the things seen through the appropriately named Hubble INSTRUMENT has been to the entire humanity.

James Weber Space Telescope is going to improve manifold on the performance of such an INSTRUMENT.

The sixty six antennas working in sync high up on the Chajnantor plateau in northern Chile are not so much "looking" as they are "listening" to radio waves.

Radio-astronomy has received in this complex INSTRUMENT possibility to expand the knowledge humanity has about the physical environment in which it exists on stellar and galactic level.

ALMA is just a tool.

Men and women will be needed for humans to UNDERSTAND the information this multi-national billion dollar INSTRUMENT will provide.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Astrochemistry at ALMA

"The Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array (ALMA) is an array of radio telescopes in the Atacama desert of northern Chile. Since a high and dry site is crucial to millimeter wavelength operations, the array is being constructed on the Chajnantor plateau at 5000 metres altitude. Consisting of 66 12-meter and 7-meter diameter radio telescopes observing at millimeter and sub-millimeter wavelengths, ALMA is expected to provide insight on star birth during the early universe and detailed imaging of local star and planet formation.

ALMA is an international partnership between Europe, the United States, Canada, East Asia and the Republic of Chile.

Costing more than a billion US dollars, it is the most expensive ground-based telescope currently under construction. ALMA began scientific observations in the second half of 2011 and the first images were released to the press on 3 October 2011. The project is scheduled to be fully operational by the end of 2012."
Acatama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array ALMA home.

Astrochemistry Enters a New Bold Era with ALMA
"Combining the cutting-edge capabilities of the ALMA telescope with newly-developed laboratory techniques, scientists are opening a completely new era for deciphering the chemistry of the Universe. A research team demonstrated their breakthrough using ALMA data from observations of the gas in a star-forming region in the constellation Orion.

Using new technology both at the telescope and in the laboratory, the scientists were able to greatly improve and speed the process of identifying the "fingerprints" of chemicals in the cosmos, enabling studies that until now would have been either impossible or prohibitively time-consuming.

“We've shown that, with ALMA, we're going to be able to do real chemical analysis of the gaseous 'nurseries' where new stars and planets are forming, unrestricted by many of the limitations we've had in the past,” said Anthony Remijan of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, VA."
ALMA Press release September 20 2012 

How ALMA works?
Two antennas linked together as interferometer
"In theory, the basic notion of interferometry is quite simple.

A signal from the sky is captured by two or more antennas which are combined in order to analyze the signal and thus obtain information about its source (whether a star, a planet, or a galaxy). By combining the radio waves collected by several antennas, it is possible [to create] images...

Nevertheless, this is not so simple in practice.

To operate properly, ALMA

  • must have its 66 antennas and electronics working in perfect synchrony, with a precision of one millionth of a millionth of a second. 
  • the signals from the different antennas must be combined in a way that the path followed from each antenna until it is combined at the central computer (the correlator) must be known with an accuracy equal to the diameter of a human hair (hundredths of a millimeter). 
  • there is the problem of reducing the possible attenuation and perturbation suffered by the signal from the time it touches each antenna until it is digitalized and transmitted over several kilometers of optic fiber to the central computer. 
  • Even earlier, as soon as the signal penetrates the Earth’s atmosphere, it is partially absorbed, deviated and delayed by molecules of CO2, Oxygen and water (even at 5,000 m of altitude and in the dry conditions encountered at the Atacama Desert). 
Seven weather stations, and specially-built Water Vapor Radiometers to measure the amount of line-of-sight water vapor present in the atmosphere, will be used to correct for these atmospheric effects."
Read the entire article by Antonia Hales

ALMAnize your Google Earth

Download this file to personalize your Google Earth and easily place ALMA on the globe.

Once you open it, the ALMA facilities and the current position of the antennas will appear to you as marked.

A cool way to include the observatory that brings you closer to the Universe on your virtual journey !

CERN, Science, Philosophy and Theology

Big Bang and religion mixed in CERN debate
Victoria Gill BBC News October 15 2012
Dr Wilton, though, said he was hopeful that "scientists, theologians and philosophers alike might gain fresh insights from each other's disciplines".

"This is such an exciting conference," he told the BBC.

"It is the first time Cern has invited theologians and philosophers to debate with them.

"But by the end... we might find new ways of understanding our own positions.

"We might even find new ways of talking to each other about the beginning of the world."

The conference is being organised by Wilton Park, an agency of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Another Space Theology bookmark BBC News

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sodium and plants

In general plants wither if there is too much salt in the soil. But some plants do have uses for sodium.
In C4 plants, sodium is a micro nutrient that aids in metabolism, specifically in regeneration of phosphoenolpyruvate and synthesis of chlorophyll. [C4 carbon fixation is one of three biochemical mechanisms, along with C3 and CAM photosynthesis, used in carbon fixation. It is named for the 4-carbon molecule present in the first product of carbon fixation in the small subset of plants known as C4 plants, in contrast to the 3-carbon molecule products in C3 plants.]

In others, it substitutes for potassium in several roles, such as maintaining turgor pressure and aiding in the opening and closing of stomata.

Excess sodium in the soil limits the uptake of water due to decreased water potential, which may result in wilting; similar concentrations in the cytoplasm can lead to enzyme inhibition, which in turn causes necrosis and chlorosis.

To avoid these problems, plants developed mechanisms that limit sodium uptake by roots, store them in cell vacuoles, and control them over long distances; excess sodium may also be stored in old plant tissue, limiting the damage to new growth.
As a theologian I strongly object to the wording in the green paragraph of an expert article on sodium - the writer uses active mode suggesting thereby that plants developed by themselves strategies for a given purpose.

The writer of the sentences probably does not think that plants are highly intelligent beings and figured out solutions (or solvents) to the problem caused by excessive sodium in the environment! Rather, there is probably some kind of theory of evolution of plants in the writer's mind and some mechanism where the blind force of survival of the fittest is the genius we see at work in nature.

In this blog I only point at interesting things as a tour guide to the Gardens of God. I hope to inspire you - and me - to read much more about sodium that is made in massive stars in the Space and which is so important to living things, animals and plants, upon Earth.

The Internet and traditional libraries have an overwhelming amount of information about what humanity has learned about the element Latins called natrium.

Sodium and human body

Sodium Na is an amazing element that keeps modern scientists busy in universities, medical research institutes. It gives both head-aches and hope to doctors working in hospitals.

In humans
sodium is an essential nutrient that regulates

  • blood volume 
  • blood pressure 
  • osmotic equilibrium 
  • pH 

The minimum physiological requirement for sodium is 500 mg per day.

Sodium chloride is the principal source of sodium in the diet, and is used as seasoning and preservative, such as for pickling and jerky; most of it comes from processed foods.

The DRI for sodium is 2.3 grams per day, but on average people in the United States consume 3.4 grams per day, the minimum amount that promotes hypertension; this in turn causes 7.6 million premature deaths worldwide.

The renin-angiotensin system regulates the amount of fluids and sodium in the body.

Reduction of blood pressure and sodium concentration in the kidney result in the production of renin, which in turn produces aldosterone and angiotensin, retaining sodium in the urine. Because of the increase in sodium concentration, the production of renin decreases, and the sodium concentration returns to normal.

Sodium is also important in neuron function and osmoregulation between cells and the extracellular fluid, their distribution mediated in all animals by Na+/K+-ATPase; hence, sodium is the most prominent cation in extracellular fluid.

Sodium (natrium) - not just salt

Structure of sodium chloride,
"showing octahedral coordination around Na+ and Cl- centres.
This framework disintegrates upon dissolution in water
and reassembles upon evaporation"
"Sodium is a chemical element with the symbol Na (from Latin: natrium) in the periodic table and atomic number 11.

It is a soft, silvery-white, highly reactive metal and is a member of the alkali metals. 20 isotopes are known but only 23Na is stable.

Many sodium compounds are useful for humans, such as sodium hydroxide (lye) for soap making, and sodium chloride for use as a deicing agent and a nutrient (edible salt).

Salt as salary and Medieval aspirin
Salt has been an important commodity in human activities, as shown by the English word salary, which derives from salarium, the wafers of salt sometimes given to Roman soldiers along with their other wages.

In medieval Europe, a compound of sodium with the Latin name of sodanum was used as a headache remedy. The name sodium is thought to originate from the Arabic suda, meaning headache, as the headache-alleviating properties of sodium carbonate or soda were well known in early times

Sodium is created in stars
23Na is created in the carbon-burning process by fusing two carbon atoms together; this requires temperatures above 600 megakelvins and a star with at least three solar masses.

When sodium or its compounds are introduced into a flame, they turn it yellow, because the excited 3s electrons of sodium emit a photon when they fall from 3p to 3s; the wavelength of this photon corresponds to the D line at 589.3 nm. Spin-orbit interactions involving the electron in the 3p orbital split the D line into two; hyperfine structures involving both orbitals cause many more lines.

In the interstellar medium, sodium is identified by the D line; though it has a high vaporization temperature, its abundance allowed it to be detected by Mariner 10 in Mercury's atmosphere.

Oceans are salty
Many salts of sodium are highly water-soluble, and their sodium has been leached by the action of water so that chloride and sodium are the most common dissolved elements by weight in the Earth's bodies of oceanic water.

Sodium in the crust of planet Earth
Sodium is the sixth most abundant element in the Earth's crust , and exists in numerous minerals such as feldspars, sodalite and rock salt.

Because of its high reactivity the free metal does not occur in nature, but instead must be prepared from its compounds; it was first isolated by Humphry Davy in 1807 by the electrolysis of sodium hydroxide.

Sodium and living beings

Sodium is an essential element for all animals and some plants.

In animals, sodium ions are used against potassium ions to build up charges on cell membranes, allowing transmission of nerve impulses when the charge is dissipated.

The consequent need of animals for sodium causes it to be classified as a dietary inorganic macro-mineral."

[Selections copied from the article are rearranged by me]
Read the entire article from wikipedia

Nitrogen and our hearts

Heart beat
Heart Valve Surgery
Nitroglycerin is used medically as a vasodilator to treat heart conditions, such as angina and chronic heart failure.

Nitroglycerin has been one of the oldest and most useful drugs for treating and preventing attacks of angina pectoris.

After more than 130 years of such use, in 2002 it was discovered that these effects arise because nitroglycerin is converted to nitric oxide in the body by mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase, and nitric oxide is a natural vasodilator in the body.

Nitroglycerin comes in forms of tablets, sprays or patches.

It has been suggested for other uses also, such as an adjunct therapy in prostate cancer. wikipedia

I just cannot stop wondering, how God of Israel can make such amazing substances as hydrogen, helium, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, tungsten or uranium just by adding a proton or two (plus some other particles) to the nucleus of an atom in the galactic fission and fusion factories far out up there. And how potent and fundamentally so different ways these elements with boring atomic numbers 1, 2, 4, 8, 64, 99 elements are for us humans living on planet Earth.

And we humans have been given the brains to use nitrogen to blow into pieces a group of enemy soldiers or to help a person experiencing life threatening heart attack!

Nitrogen - Dynamite Nobel

Alfred Nobel (1833-1896)
We humans inhabiting planet Earth so rich in nitrogen want explosives for every day jobs like mining or road building. We also want powerful propellants as well as strong explosives for military use for attacking others or defending ourselves. In today's world some people with political or even religious background want explosives to make a point or two.

Elementary nitrogen is a plentiful element in nature that has powerful chemical bonding. This makes it ideal for releasing plenty of energy when release by different means - even by slow bacterial activity (composts are warm). A quick release of the energy in nitrogen bonding and you get a propellant or explosive.

This characteristic of nitrates explains the strange obsession of some people to buy plenty of common fertilizers even the person may not have any fields for farming.

However, the nitrogen bond is very strong and it took quite and then plenty of human genius before  humanity succeeded in releasing that hidden energy.

Swedish scientist Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) had over 300 patents. Dynamite was by far the most profitable of these and made his fortune and established the financial success and fame of companies such as the historical Swedish iron factory Bofors,German Dynamit Nobel AG and Dutch multinational Akzo Nobel N.V.

All humanity benefits from the Nobel Prize established by the wealthy inventor who had discovered an practical and safe way to release the power of elementary nitrogen N2 originally made in the very big bangs of supernovas.

The key to his industrially significant invention is nitroglycerin which is an organic nitrate compound. Italian chemist Ascanio Sobrero had first synthesized it in 1847 in the University of Torino and made black powder of it and seriously warned about how dangerous liquid it is.

An anonymous Wikipedia article tells us [read entire article]
Nobel found that when nitroglycerin was incorporated in an absorbent inert substance like kieselguhr (diatomaceous earth) it became safer and more convenient to handle, and this mixture he patented in 1867 as 'dynamite'. Nobel demonstrated his explosive for the first time that year, at a quarry in Redhill, Surrey, England.

In order to help reestablish his name and improve the image of his business from the earlier controversies associated with the dangerous explosives, Nobel had also considered naming the highly powerful substance "Nobel's Safety Powder", but settled with Dynamite instead, referring to the Greek word for 'power'.

Nobel later on combined nitroglycerin with various nitrocellulose compounds, similar to collodion, but settled on a more efficient recipe combining another nitrate explosive, and obtained a transparent, jelly-like substance, which was a more powerful explosive than dynamite.

'Gelignite', or blasting gelatin, as it was named, was patented in 1876; and was followed by a host of similar combinations, modified by the addition of potassium nitrate and various other substances.

Gelignite was more stable, transportable and conveniently formed to fit into bored holes, like those used in drilling and mining, than the previously used compounds and was adopted as the standard technology for mining in the Age of Engineering bringing Nobel a great amount of financial success, though at a significant cost to his health.

An off-shoot of this research resulted in Nobel's invention of ballistite, the precursor of many modern smokeless powder explosives and still used as a rocket propellant.

Nitrogen in action
The stuff was badly needed when humanity got involved in the two so-far most destructive wars.
Large quantities of nitroglycerin were manufactured during World War I and World War II for use as military propellants and in military engineering work.

During World War I, HM Factory, Gretna, the largest propellant factory in the Great Britain, produced about 800 long tons (812 tonnes) of Cordite RDB per week. This amount took at least 336 tons of nitroglycerin per week (assuming no losses in production).

The Royal Navy had its own factory at Royal Navy Cordite Factory, Holton Heath in Dorset, England. A large cordite factory was also built in Canada during World War I.

The Canadian Explosives Limited cordite factory at Nobel, Ontario, was designed to produce 1,500,000 lb (680 t) of cordite per month. This required about 286 tonnes of nitroglycerin per month.

Good business, eh... ?