Monday, April 1, 2019

Writing Surfaces Used by Humans

Alice C. Linsley

Humans have shown great ingenuity in drawing and writing. The earliest written communications involved drawings. The surfaces used included the walls of rock shelters, animal skins, stone and shells. This shell was carved by a human living in Java about 500,000 years ago.

Ostrich egg shells are one of the earliest known surfaces used by humans to draw. Many examples of these have been found at paleolithic sites. These ostrich eggs are an example. They are about 70,000 years old.

Stones with identical markings to those on the ostrich shells have been found in caves in Southern Africa. This Blombos Stone dates to about 70,000 years ago.

At the Upper Paleolithic site of Ohalo II near the Sea of Galilee, archaeologists found wooden objects on brush-hut floors that appear to have symbolic markings. One incised wooden object (c. 23,000 BC) is identical in size and incision pattern to a gazelle bone implement found in a grave.

Prehistoric populations left marks on the walls of caves to provide directions to people passing that way. Some of these marks are recognized today as letters. Many words that share a similar meaning begin with an ancient mark. Consider the V. This mark indicates a parting of water ways. It suggests a place that spreads out, like a valley or a vale. It might signify a washout or a deposit of sediment, like a glacial varve. Or something that opens, like a vagina or a valve.

Typical marks include concentric circles, parallel lines (both vertical and horizontal), Y, V, X, and O and sometimes an X inside an O. The Y suggests a fork in the route ahead. The X indicates a place to cross or an intersection of routes. The O represented a day's time, or the solar arc from east to west.

One of the oldest known scripts is that of the Vinča Culture of present day Serbia and parts of Bulgaria and Romania, dated to the period 5700–4500 BC. This inscribed amulet was discovered in 1961 by archaeologist Nicolae Vlassa at a Neolithic site in the village of Tărtăria in modern Romania.

Papyrus reeds and wood were also used as writing surfaces. The wood document below dates to the reign of Amenhotep I, c. 1514-1493 BC.

The scribe’s tablet above shows hieratic script. Text is an excerpt from The Instructions of Amenemhat (12th Dynasty, 1991-1778 BC). It reads: “Be on your guard against all who are subordinate to you …Trust no brother, know no friend, make no intimates.”

Related reading: Symbols of Archaic Rock Shelters; Early Written Signs; The Edwin Smith Papyrus; How Parchment is Made

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Faraday’s Inspiring Life: Science and God

Michael Faraday
Portrait by Thomas Phillips (1842)

Nathan Calvino, Grade 7

Michael Faraday was born on September 22, 1791 in Newington Butts and did not come from a very wealthy family. His father, James was a member of the Glassite sect of Christianity, and he was an apprentice to the village blacksmith. Michael was third of the four children and received only basic education. His parents, Robert Faraday and Elizabeth Dean, were married in 1756. Faraday had 2 siblings. Elizabeth born in 1787 and Robert born in 1788. His father died in 1809 and his mother died in 1838.

In 1804, he served as an errand boy for the bookseller George Riebau, delivering newspapers. It was during these seven years of apprenticeship that Faraday read many books, two in particular that captured his attention were Isaac Watts' The Improvement of the Mind and Jane Marcet’s Conversations on Chemistry. In 1805 he stated his apprenticeship as a bookbinder. In 1812 his apprenticeship as a bookbinder ends.

On March 1, 1813, Faraday began working at the Royal Institution for the pay of 25 shillings a week and was given rooms in the buildings to live in. At first, he washed the lab equipment, but later he started to help Sir Humphrey Davy with experiments.

Michael Faraday and Davy sailed from Plymouth on October 17, 1817 and arrived in Paris. In December Faraday caught a glimpse of Napoleon riding in his carriage. Davy and Faraday met with scientists and conducted experiments on their portable laboratory. After leaving Paris they spent two months at the Mediterranean coast and headed across the Alps into Italy. While in Italy they met some scientists and saw Galileo’s telescope. As they passed through Milan, Faraday met Alessandro Volta, the inventor of the battery. In 1815 their trip was cut short so they returned home to England.

In 1816, Faraday gave his speech at the Royal Institution. In 1820 he discovered carbon tetrachloride.

On October 1, 1820, Davy rushed into the lab with news that Hans Christian Orsted had hypothesized that a magnetic field was generated by electricity and moved in circles around the wire. Soon after that Davy told him that he was assigned a chore for the journal of the Royal Institution, Annals of Philosophy. He had to review all scientific literature about electricity and write a history on it.

On September 3, 1821 Faraday discovered the principle of the electric motor. In 1821 he discovered the principal of electromagnetic rotation, and in 1825 Faraday discovered benzene.

In May, 1823 Richard Phillips told Faraday that he had nominated him to be a Fellow of the Royal Society. At the bottom of the letter telling the president of the Royal Society of the nomination, Faraday wrote, “Sir H. Davy angry, May 30th. On January 8,1824, he was elected into the Society. Davy developed a disabling illness and resigned from both institutions. He died in Geneva, Switzerland in 1829.

In 1826 he began to give lectures. The lectures became so popular that in April 1827, that they were moved to the large lecture hall. For Faraday’s first Evening Discourse on February 3,1826, he demonstrated the properties of natural rubber. In 1826, Faraday started Christian Juvenile lectures. Starting in 1825 and lasting for six years, he studied the properties and manufacture of optical glass used for telescopes.

In early 1831, Faraday conducted a group of experiments on vibrations. In his notebook with each paragraph numbered he wrote:

98. Mercury on tin plate being vibrated in sunshine gave very beautiful effects of reflection.

101. Ink and water vibrated in sunshine looked extremely beautiful.

On Saturday, September 24, 1831, Faraday discovered the principle of electromagnetism. For his last notebook entry, he wrote, “Hence here distinct conversion of Magnetism into Electricity.”

In 1831, Faraday discovered the principle of transformer and the principle of dynamo and created the first electrical generator.

In 1832, Faraday determined that all electricities are the same, regardless of source and states his law of electrolysis.

In the late 1830s, Faraday’s health worsened. His headaches and weakness increased. In November 1839, he suffered from attacks of dizziness. His doctor bled him and ordered him to rest and relax his mind. His laboratory notebook recorded only five days of work from January 11 to February 11, 1840. There is another gap of time until five more days in August and then no more entries until June, 1842. In 1840, Faraday was elected elder of the Sandemanian church.

On March 31, 1844, Faraday was excluded from the Sandemanian church. The early 1840s were a struggle for Faraday. Conflicts with the church, concerns over his health and mental state, and lack of direction in his scientific pursuits hunted him.

On February 13, 1845, he discovered that light propagation in a material can be influenced by external magnetic field. In 1846 Faraday was awarded the Rumford Medal. The Chemical History of a Candle was the title of a series of six lectures on the chemistry and physics of flames given by Michael Faraday at the Royal Institution in 1848. The 6 lectures are:

Lecture 1: A Candle: The Flame - Its Sources - Structure - Mobility - Brightness

Lecture 2: Brightness of the Flame - Air necessary for Combustion - Production of Water

Lecture 3: Products: Water from the Combustion - Nature of Water - A Compound - Hydrogen

Lecture 4: Hydrogen in the Candle - Burns into Water - The Other Part of Water - Oxygen

Lecture 5: Oxygen present in the Air - Nature of the Atmosphere - Its Properties - Other Products from the Candle - Carbonic Acid - Its Properties

Lecture 6: Carbon or Charcoal - Coal Gas Respiration and its Analogy to the Burning of a Candle - Conclusion

Michael Faraday’s Experimental Researches in Electricity was published in 1855. In 1864 his weak health forced him to resign as an elder from his church. Above his bed were verses from the Psalms, “Remember me, O Lord, with the favor that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation; That I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance.”

Faraday married Sarah Barnard on 12 June 1821 at St. Augustine’s church. Sarah provided him with a calm home. Most evenings he liked to sit in his favorite chair watching the sunset. Faraday enjoyed jokes, puns, and word games.

On August 25, 1867 Michael Faraday died at a house provided by Queen Victoria in Hampton Court Palace, Molesey, England. His wife, Sarah, died on January 6, 1879.

On June 5, 1991, the 20-pound note was released in England with Michael Faraday's image on the back. The note was withdrawn on February 28, 2001.

Michael Faraday is known for being a Physicist and a Chemist, his lectures, his work in the field electricity, and the following:

He discovered electromagnetic induction-the principle behind transformers and generators.

He discovered electromagnetic rotation-the principle behind electric motors.

He proposed fields of force created by electricity and magnetism.

He developed an early form of Bunsen burner.

· Faraday's law of induction
· Electrochemistry
· Faraday effect
· Faraday cage
· Faraday constant
· Faraday cup
· Faraday's laws of electrolysis
· Faraday paradox
· Faraday rotator
· Faraday-efficiency effect
· Faraday wave
· Faraday wheel
· Lines of force

Michael Faraday's Diary of Experimental Investigation, 2nd edition, Vol. 3, was first available in 1935, is 7 volumes, and is 3,500 pages long.

He was the recipient of many awards, including the Royal Medal (1835 and 1846); the Copley Medal (1832 and 1838); and the Albert Medal (1866).

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Battles in the Bible

Ramses II at the battle of Kadesh

The Bible records numerous battles between the ancient kingdoms of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon and Persia. Powerful high kings fought to acquire more territory, wealthy ports, and access to mineral resources. Many of these battles are mentioned in extra-biblical sources.

In Numbers 13:26-28, we read about how the Israelite community at Kadesh was given this account: "We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there."

This is a good description of the Iron Age strongholds that the kings sought to capture. Even the Irsaelite Hebrew (Habiru) wanted control of the fortified high places. Shrine cities, such as Hazor, were governed by Habiru, so the attempts of Joshua and Caleb to take these settlements indicates a power struggle between kinsmen rather than a war between strangers.

The fortified shrine cities were the focus of conflict between landless Habiru and the Habiru who ruled in the cities. The fortifications were built by the rulers of Canaan, whose cultural complexion was similar to Egypt.

The Anakim were organized into a three-clan confederation. The three clans were named for the three highest ranked sons of Anak. Their names are Sheshai (Shasu), Ahiman and Talmai (Josh.15:14). The Shasu were devotees of YHWH before the time of Moses and kinsmen of the Edomites whose rulers are listed in Genesis 36.

Anak and his people the Anakim dwelt in the region of Hebron, where Sarah resided. Anak's father was Arba. Hebron was called Kiriath-Arba. The Anakim are associated with the Nephilim (Num. 13:33), with the Raphaim (Deut. 2:10) and with the clan of Caleb (Josh.15:13). Therefore, Caleb’s offensive against the Anakim was a war against some of his kinsmen.

If this sounds like a distortion, check the archaeological, linguistic, and anthropological data surrounding Hazor's destruction.

Israel and Judah play a large role in the biblical accounts because the Bible focuses on the peoples who lived there, some of whom were the ancestors of Jesus Messiah.

As the presentation points out, "some of these conflicts didn't have the results that the Bible claims." Here's a look at twelve battles mentioned in the Bible. (Note that the terms Israel, Israelite and Jew are not always applied accurately.)

Related reading: Hazor's Destruction: Another Theory; The Men Who Spied on Canaan; Hebrew, Israelite, or Jew?

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Humans Descend From African Ancestors

Archaic human footprint found in Ileret, Kenya dating to 1.5 million years
Several sets provide evidence of males travelling in groups.

All non-Africans alive today can trace their roots back to ancient humans who left Africa between about 72,000 and 50,000 years ago. That’s the conclusion of three separate groups of scientists. They all published new studies online September 21 in Nature.

These studies examined DNA from different groups of modern people. The earliest human explorers left Africa in a single wave of migration, each study concluded. Then those explorers bred with Neandertals and spread across the world. On that much, all these teams agree. But many details of that history remain unanswered.

Scientists often have wondered when humans first left Africa. And did it happen once, twice or many times? Archaeological evidence from modern humans in Asia dates back 80,000 years. And human DNA from remains of a Neandertal woman in what’s now Siberia suggested some humans left Africa more than 110,000 years ago.
Read more here.

Related reading: Artifacts of Great Antiquity; Facts About Human Origins

Friday, December 14, 2018

Zealandia: The Eighth Continent

A study done by earth scientists in New Zealand and Australia claims that a continent is hidden under the ocean. In their paper, titled 'Zealandia: Earth's Hidden Continent,' the geologists argue that Zealandia has all four attributes necessary to be considered a continent.

It is believed that the 94 per cent of Zealandia that is submerged broke off from Australia and sank 60-85 million years ago.

At 4.9 million square kilometers, Zealandia would be the smallest continent. Zealandia's crust is much shallower than the surrounding oceanic crust, and more closely resembles continental crust rather than oceanic crust. Further, a narrow strip of oceanic crust separates Australia from Zealandia.

The proposed world map below shows Zealandia, the eighth continent. Though most of the continent is submerged, scientists say it has all the geologic hallmarks of a separate continent.

A six-year study by the GNS Science research institute in New Zealand found that there could be tens of billions of dollars worth of fossil fuels in offshore regions around the landmass.

Read more here and here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

HeLa Cells

Johns Hopkins has announced that it will name a new research building after Henrietta Lacks. The building is anticipated to be completed in 2020. 

Henrietta Lacks was a young mother of five from eastern Baltimore County who, despite radiation treatment at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, died in 1951 of an aggressive cancer. Lacks was the source of the HeLa cell line that has been critical to numerous advances in medicine.

Henrietta Lacks died on 4 October 1951 at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer and since her death in 1951, cells taken from her tumor have been responsible for important medical advances such as the polio vaccine, chemotherapy, cloning, gene mapping, and IVF. Her cells are called HeLa, taking the first 2 letters of the first and last names.

HeLa cells have been reproduced and are now so plentiful that one researcher estimated that, laid end-to-end, they would wrap around the planet at least three times. HeLa cells are a constantly reproducing line of cells that have been used in all kinds of research and experiments.

Sadly, the Lack family never benefited from the advancements in medicine that came from the extraction of Henrietta's cells.

Monday, October 8, 2018

What is Biblical Anthropology?

Alice C. Linsley

An emerging field of anthropology, Biblical Anthropology, focuses on an empirical reading of the Bible. Students are trained to identify anthropologically significant data and to correlate the data with the findings in anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, migration studies and DNA studies.

Reading sacred texts like the books of the Bible through the lens of cultural anthropology is rigorous because no assumption can stand untested, and no assertion can be made without data. If we seek to understand the biblical texts rather than use the Bible to support an agenda, we will find the approach of Biblical Anthropology helpful.

For a more interactive approach, consider joining the international Facebook group The Bible and Anthropology. Here we learn from one another and together are building a body of knowledge that many will find helpful.

Unlike the more speculative Theological Anthropology, Biblical Anthropology is a science. It focuses primarily on the antecedents of the Messianic Faith among Abraham's ancestors. To understand what this entails requires exposure to the field. Here are indices where some of the research is posted. The material is organized alphabetically by topic and all the articles are linked.