Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The 2018 ASA Annual Meeting

ASA 2018, our 73rd Annual Meeting at Gordon College, will be here in less than three months. There is a buzz of activity here in the home office with the many preparations!

I'd like to bring you a couple of updates regarding this special conference taking place here in Boston.

$50 Night Owl Discount Now Available through May 31

We are delighted that we had 215 early birds register for ASA 2018, which is an outstanding response. We are excitedly expecting another terrific attendance.

For the rest of you procrastinators, don't worry because we are pleased to announce the night owl discount of $50 through May 31. Register before then and receive a $375 member rate for only $325 (or a $425 non-member rate for $375). You can find all details and registration link here.

Our goal is an attendance of 350, so we would appreciate your help with spreading the word. Please let your family, friends, colleagues, and students know that this top-notch conference is not to be missed.

Public Lecture with Francis Collins

We are delighted that Francis Collins has accepted our invitation to speak at ASA 2018 on Saturday evening, July 28, 7:30 pm, as part of our Annual Meeting. This lecture is open to the public and we would love to fill the seats of the Gordon College chapel. If you live in the Boston area and/or have friends, colleagues, or members of your church who are NOT attending our meeting but would be interested in attending the lecture, tickets can be purchased in advance for $10/person ($15/person at the door). Contact the ASA office for group discounts. Click here for more.

Promotional Opportunities

We have a number of promotional opportunities for organizations and/or individuals to enrich their professional life, promote their cause and network with a broad group of scientists. Would you or someone you know benefit from hosting an exhibit table, advertising in the program book, or sponsoring an event at ASA 2018? Click here for more information.

Student Scholarship Fund

Student members are the future leaders of the ASA, and we welcome them to the Annual Meeting. Would you help replenish the scholarship fund to make attendance possible for more student members? To date, we have provided 22 scholarships, with new applications arriving daily. Please consider donating to provide more opportunity for students to engage in the ASA! Click here to donate.

I hope you are able to join us for ASA 2018!

Sincerely in Christ,

Vicki L. Best
Director of Operations and Development
American Scientific Affiliation
218 Boston Street
Topsfield, MA 01983
(978) 807-5189

Friday, May 4, 2018

How Humans Are Different

It is evident to anthropologists that humans are unique among the other living creatures on Earth. Our uniqueness is expressed in many ways. Here are a few examples.

The Conscience

Charles Darwin said that "blushing is the most peculiar and the most human of all expressions." No other mammal has this trait.

We blush when we are ashamed or embarrassed. But what makes us feel ashamed? We humans have something called a conscience. The conscience acts as a moral compass. It tells us when we are morally right and when we are morally wrong. Some consider this to be a mark of being in the image and likeness of the Creator (Genesis 2).

The Spoken Word

Humans use spoken language to inform each other about what is on our minds. We have the ability to describe things in great detail. We are able to articulate our feelings, to argue, and to discuss matters of importance. No other animal has this gift.

We make sense of the world by talking about it. We give names to things, just as Adam was told to name the living creatures in Eden.

The Imagination

Humans are imaginative creatures. This is expressed in many ways: art, symbolic communication, and story telling. We speak of events past, present, and future and we elaborate, adding details that make the story more interesting or funny. 

Jesus used stories, called "parables" to teach people about God and the Kingdom of Heaven. Philosophers use moralistic stories to teach ethics and moral behavior.  They hope that such instruction will help students to be productive citizens who contribute to the common good of their society.

Awareness of our Mortality

Humans are conscious of death. We know that humans die and that each of us will experience this reality. This recognition influences how we live each day. Some regard life as a gift and take care of themselves and others. Some regard human life a cheap, because, after all is said and done, we must die. 

Humans react differently to the reality of death. Some seek consolation in pleasures like food, alcohol, sex (hedonism). Others seek to be less interested in these in order to dedicate their time and effects to things that they believe are pleasing to God: humility, generosity, kindness, forgiveness, etc. These are people who look for "the life of the world to come." They believe that in that life, there will no longer be death and every tear will be wiped away. 

Homo Ludens (Playful Creature)

Humans are the only living creatures that have the ability to mentally stand apart from themselves to see the humor of our condition. We are able to crack jokes about our flaws and behaviors.

We are able to play games. We invent games to entertain ourselves. We laugh, dance, chase each other around, and strategize about how to gain an advantage over the other players.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

New DNA Structure Found

This is an artist's impression of the i-motif DNA structure inside cells, along with the antibody-based tool used to detect it. Credit: Chris Hammang

The i-motif is a four-stranded knot of DNA that is very different from a double helix, where 'letters' on opposite strands recognize each other. In the i-motif knot structure, C letters on the same strand of DNA bind to each other.

To detect the i-motifs inside cells, the researchers developed a new tool -- a fragment of an antibody molecule -- that could specifically recognize and attach to i-motifs with a very high affinity. With the new tool, researchers uncovered the location of 'i-motifs' in a range of human cell lines.

"What excited us most is that we could see the green spots -- the i-motifs -- appearing and disappearing over time, so we know that they are forming, dissolving and forming again," says Dr Mahdi Zeraati, whose research underpins the study's findings.

Dr Zeraati says, "We think the coming and going of the i-motifs is a clue to what they do. It seems likely that they are there to help switch genes on or off, and to affect whether a gene is actively read or not."

Read more here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

War Armour

A grey suit of armour gilded with gold

This is the war armour of Lord Buckhurst, made in 1587 at the Royal Armourers’ Workshops in Greenwich, England. The Royal Armourers’ Workshops was set up by Henry VIII at the beginning of the 16th century to provide himself and his Court with the finest quality armour. Read more here.

Iron armour could be carburized or case hardened to give a surface of harder steel.

Related reading: Materials 1 (metals); Materials 2 (ores), Materials 3 (resins)

Monday, April 9, 2018

A History of Glass

Glass is a material of great interest to archaeologists and materials experts. Because of its fragile nature, many of the oldest glass artifacts are no longer intact.

The oldest known glass manufacturing site was in Egypt. It dates to around B.C. 1250. The glass items produced here were for nobles and high kings. The objects include blue glass beads and vessels with narrow necks used to store perfume or other precious liquids.

The artisans of Mesopotamian also produced glass around. A victory inscription from an Egyptian king claimed that he had brought back skilled glass workers from Mesopotamia.

Decorated glass was produced 1000 years ago at Igbo-Olokun, an archaeological site in the Yoruba city of Ile-Ife in southwestern Nigeria.

The Glastonbury Abbey Project has been reevaluating data from previous excavations at that ancient site. One of the discoveries involves glass making. A reassessment of the Glastonbury glass-producing furnaces proved that Saxon workers were recycling Roman glass imported from Europe, and that the furnaces are nearly 300 years older than expected. They date to about A.D. 700 and are associated with the construction of the earliest stone churches in England. According to archaeologist Roberta Gilchrist (University of Reading) this makes the site’s glass production complex among the earliest and most substantial in Saxon England.

Ancient Greek and Roman glass

Glass is made from sand. Early humans probably discovered this when they built bonfires on the sand. The fire's intense heat turned the sand into liquid. When the liquid sand cooled, they noticed that it was hard. It had turned into glass.

The technique of glass blowing made glass less costly and more accessible to the average person of the Roman Empire.

Watch this video.

Here is another account of the history of glass.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Globe Making in the 1950s

The first globes were made beginning in 1492. These were made by hand and hand painted. Even in the 1950's making a globe was a labor intensive process. Watch this video to see how the globes were made.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018