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 Neanderthals 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 Neanderthal 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.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics

Donna Strickland

The 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded on Tuesday to Arthur Ashkin of the United States, Gérard Mourou of France and Donna Strickland of Canada for harnessing one of the most ineffable aspects of nature, pure light, into a mighty microscopic force. Dr. Strickland, a self-described “laser jock,” is only the third woman to win the physics prize, for work she did as a graduate student with Dr. Mourou.

Dr. Ashkin will receive half of the monetary prize, worth about $1 million; Dr. Mourou and Dr. Strickland will split the remainder.

The Nobel committee recognized the scientists for their work in transforming laser light into miniature tools. Dr. Ashkin invented “optical tweezers,” which use the pressure from a highly focused laser beam to manipulate microscopic objects, including living organisms such as viruses and bacteria.

Dr. Strickland and Dr. Mourou developed a method of generating high-intensity, ultrashort laser pulses, known as chirped pulse amplification. The work has had a wide range of real-world applications, enabling manufacturers to drill tiny, precise holes and allowing for the invention of Lasik eye surgery.

Read more here.

In an interview with, the official website of the prize, Dr. Strickland said that when she first learned that she had won, she wondered if it might be a prank. “It was just a fun thing to do, and so I enjoyed putting many hours into it,” she said of her work with short-pulse lasers more than 30 years ago.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The 2018 Nobel Prize Winners in Medicine

Tasuku Honjo

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded on Monday to James P. Allison of the United States and Tasuku Honjo of Japan for their work on unleashing the body’s immune system to attack cancer, a breakthrough that has led to an entirely new class of drugs and brought lasting remissions to many patients who had run out of options.

James P. Allison
Their success, which came after many researchers had given up on the idea, “brought immunotherapy out from decades of skepticism,” said Dr. Jedd Wolchok, a cancer specialist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. It has, he said, “led to human applications that have affected an untold number of people’s health.”

Before Dr. Allison’s and Dr. Honjo’s discoveries, cancer treatment consisted of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and hormonal treatments. A statement from the Nobel committee hailed their accomplishments as establishing “an entirely new 

Earlier attempts by other researchers to recruit the immune system to fight cancer sometimes worked but more often did not. Dr. Allison and Dr. Honjo succeeded where others had failed by deciphering exactly how cells were interacting so they could fine-tune methods to control the immune system.

Checkpoint inhibitors do not work for everyone and they have only been approved for some cancers. They can have severe side effects, and they are expensive, costing more than $100,000 a year. But the approach, known as immunotherapy, has become a mainstay of treatment for a number of types of cancer, and a great deal of research is underway — including work by Dr. Allison and Dr. Honjo — to find the best ways of combining checkpoint inhibitors with one another and with standard treatments to help more patients.

Read more here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Confused to Confident

By Kristine Johnson

Kristine is a member of the American Scientific Affiliation and an aerospace engineer for Honeywell. She is featured at the BioLogos Forum "Believing Scientists Respond." What follows is a brief testimony.

I grew up in a wonderful Christian home and even attended a Christian school for several years. Unfortunately, a lot of the “science” at my Christian school was pretty inaccurate. When I was in high school I started having a lot of questions. My Christian school science teacher told me to stop asking. He advised me to skip college and just get married and have kids and be a stay at home mom/wife. I also attempted to ask my youth pastor my questions. He told me just to have faith and then he tried to avoid me.

On my way home from a short-term mission trip to Guatemala, I was praying and asking God for direction for my life. I had been studying aerospace engineering and mechanics and felt the Holy Spirit confirm that I was designed with math and science skills for the purpose of being an engineer and bringing my faith into the workplace to be a witness for Jesus to other engineers and people in the scientific realm. I completed my education and am currently working at Honeywell Aerospace analyzing signals from space and designing precision landing systems.

My degree and my work brought me into conflict with what I had been taught at the Christian school. I am incredibly thankful to have found resources like the ASA, Reasons to Believe, BioLogos, and my family to help me navigate through relearning what Scripture says and understanding varying interpretations, especially around creation. I’m so grateful for quality resources that bring nature and faith into harmony. I’ve become more passionate in learning theology, studying Scripture, and reading more diversely. Because of these organizations (and others), I have been equipped to help my own daughters with their tough questions. I’ve also been able to meet somewhat regularly with the youth pastor at my church to help him have tools to direct students who have science related questions. Over the last few years I have had the opportunity to share in the youth group a handful of times on science related topics. This spring, one of my daughters was talking with a college student from our church and she shared with my daughter that the information I had presented in the youth group helped her faith while she was in college (also studying engineering). I feel blessed to have helped her and look forward to future opportunities to share how God has been working in and through my experiences.

This week our family had dinner with one of the pastors from our church and his family. We had a lovely evening and out of our conversation, the pastor’s wife asked if I would ever be willing to teach in one of the adult Sunday School classes at our church. I’m already looking forward to this potential new opportunity. May Jesus Christ be praised in all I say and do!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Chernobyl Wolf Population

A wild fox being fed by a tourist in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Wild animals have free range around northern Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear plant, the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident, which spread radiation throughout the region in 1986.

Studies have hinted that significant populations of European gray wolves and other large creatures live in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, the roughly Rhode Island-sized, 1,000-square-mile section from which people were evacuated and can no longer live.

While clear of humans, animals are not free from radiation and its health effects, an active and at times controversial area of research. Many questions remain about the extent to which radiation causes mutations in various species, and whether these could be spread outside the zone.

Read it all here.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Women Professors Underrepresented in Professional Journals

These days there is an overwhelming consensus in our scientific community that scientific talent is not gendered. Universities, funding agencies, conference organizers and individual laboratory leaders around the world are all working to resolve this problem. It is time for the journals to “lean in.”

Criminal Justice Professor Cara Rabe-Hemp
Illinois State University

“Publish or perish” is tattooed on the mind of every academic. Like it or loathe it, publishing in high-profile journals is the fast track to positions in prestigious universities with illustrious colleagues and lavish resources, celebrated awards and plentiful grant funding. Yet somehow, in the search to understand why women’s scientific careers often fail to thrive, the role of high-impact journals has received little scrutiny.

One reason is that these journals don’t even collect data about the gender or ethnic background of their authors. To examine the representation of women within these journals, with our colleagues Jason Webster and Yuichi Shoda, we delved into MEDLINE, the online repository that contains records of almost every published peer-reviewed neuroscience article. We used the database to predict the gender of first and last authors on over 166,000 articles published between 2005 and 2017 in high-profile journals that include neuroscience, our own scientific discipline. The results were dispiriting.

Female scientists underrepresented

We began by looking at first authors – the place in the author list that traditionally is held by the junior researcher who does the hands-on research. We expected over 40 percent to be women, similar to the percentage of women postdocs in neuroscience in the U.S. and Europe. Instead, fewer than 25 percent first authors in the journals Nature and Science were women.

Our findings were similar for last authors, the place typically held by the laboratory leader. We expected the numbers to match large National Institutes of Health grants, which are a similarly rigorous measure of significance, scientific sophistication and productivity; 30 percent are awarded to women – comparable to the proportion of women tenure-track faculty in neuroscience. The proportion of women last authors was half what we expected – just over 15 percent of last authors in Science and Nature were women.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Ineptitude at Chernobyl

Lest the world forget, a historian delivers a devastating account of a 1986 catastrophe in which nearly everyone did nearly everything wrong.

In his book, “Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe,” (Basic Books, 432 pages), Serhii Plokhy describes a catastrophe that Russians living in that region will not forget. Some remember the horrible deaths of their loved ones who had been exposed to high levels of radiation. Indeed the world should not forget what happened at Chernobyl.

Serhii Plokhy has written a good analysis of the disaster at Chernobyl. The handling of the situtaion reveals government ineptitude, stonewalling, and deceit.

Henry Fountain has written a review of Plokhy's book. His review is titled, "Study in Ineptitude and Deceit." Here are the opening paragraphs:
A LITTLE MORE than 24 hours after Unit 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded and caught fire in April 1986, three men gathered in front of a pile of sand at a construction site a few miles away. With shovels, they started filling sandbags that the authorities planned to drop from helicopters in an effort to quench, or at least quiet, the nuclear inferno.  
But the men sweating over their shovels weren’t construction workers, or laborers of any kind. Far from it: One was a general in the Soviet Air Force, in uniform, and the other two were high-level government officials in business suits. They had been ordered to do the work by the deputy head of the Soviet government, who had come to Chernobyl a few hours before and was angry about the initial response to the accident
The anecdote is among the most revealing in Serhii Plokhy’s new history of the Chernobyl accident. Relying on official reports (including KGB memos), interviews, and other firsthand accounts, ”Chernobyl: The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe” lays out in devastating detail how the Soviets were vastly unprepared, in ways small and large, for what became the worst disaster in the history of nuclear energy. 


Read more here.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Hildegard von Bingen's Life of Service

Molly Sullens, Grade 8

Hildegard of Bingen was the most significant woman in science in the 11th century. She was centuries ahead of her time. She excelled in science, medicine, Christian theology and music. She is sometimes called the “Sibyl of the Rhine.”

She was born in Germany in 1098 and died in 1179. She was born during the first crusade, the youngest of 10 children. In noble families it was the custom for the tenth child to be given to the church, so she was given as a tithe to God. She went to live with the anchoress Jutta, a woman who withdrew from the word, living alone in a small enclosed area adjoining a church. The noble woman Jutta spent every day learning about God and praying.

Hildegard served as Jutta’s maid and apprentice from age 8 to 18. Jutta taught Hildegard about Christ and how to serve him. When Jutta died in 1136, Hildegard was unanimously elected the abbess in charge of the monastery that was over 400 years old. She was a Benedictine nun, which means that she lived in obedience to the Rule of Benedict. This rule meant a daily life of prayer, work, study, and offering hospitality.

In 1148 Hildegard decided to move the convent to Rupertsberg, separating the women’s ministry from that of the men. This decision was opposed by her abbot, but in 1150 the new convent was founded and Hildegard was in control. The Rupertsberg convent grew to as many as 50 women, most of whom came from wealthy backgrounds. Hildegard allowed the women to keep some of their jewelry, which gave them a sense of their family background.

As abbess, Hildegard’s duties included nursing, illuminating manuscripts, supervising the nuns, and travel in Germany and France. She also was in demand for her skills in helping the sick.

Hildegard was perhaps the most prolific writer of her time. She wrote hymns, treatises, plays, and over 300 letters. Most of her hymns have been performed and recorded by the ensemble Sequentia. The ensemble continued to record all of Hildegard’s music, ending their “music of the saints” project in 1998, the year celebrating Hildegard's 900th birthday.

In her letters Hildegard gave spiritual advice to people of both high and low estate. She wrote to chastise Emperor Frederick Barbarossa and the Archbishop of Main. She also wrote to St Bernard, King Henry II of England and his queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Abbess Hildegard was a strong woman, though she regarded herself as a paupercula feminea forma, or poor weak woman. She held her ground when church authorities tried to force her to exhume the body of an excommunicated nobleman she had permitted to be buried on the convent grounds. This happened when she was in her eighties. Hildegard defied the authorities by hiding the grave, and the authorities excommunicated her entire convent community. Hildegard appealed the decision to higher church authorities and the sanction was finally lifted.

Hildegard suffered from extreme migraines, but luckily, she discovered the power of herbs that can calm nerves and relax muscles. Lemon balm, passion flower, catnip, and valerian are some of the herbs that she studied to discover some of their medical properties. She used plants from her own garden to do experiments and kept very detailed journals of all her experiments.

Hildegard wrote her two treatises between 1151 and 1161. These are often referred to by their Latin titles, Physica and Causae et Curae. Physica describes the characteristics of elements, mammals, reptiles, fish, birds, trees, metals, precious stones, and medicinal uses of over 200 plants. In Causae et Curae Hildegard describes forty-seven diseases according to causes, symptoms, and treatments and lists over 300 plants used to treat diseases.

Her book Scivias (Know the Ways of the Lord) is based on the visions that she received from God since age three. Hildegard had shared her visions with only two people: Jutta and another monk, named Volmar. Volmar served as Hildegard’s secretary until her death. The process of writing this book was drawn out over 10 years. In 1147 Pope Eugenius encouraged Hildegard to finish Scivias and eventually it was published with papal imprimatur. The book drew the attention of many throughout Europe.

She also wrote the Book of the Merits of Life. The sections of the book concern the “Man Looking to the East and to the South” (Part 1); the “Man Looking to the North and the West” (Part 2), and the “Man Looking Over the Whole Earth” (Part 5).

The Book of Divine Works (Liber divinorum operum) was published in 1163. In this book she wrote, “Whoever has submitted to God with humble devotion and been set alight by the aid of the Holy Spirit overcomes both what is corrupted within themselves and the devil; the angels rejoice because of the good works of the just and praise God’s omnipotence.”

She also wrote, “The Son of God’s love crushed the devil with its Cross, and its imitation treads now under foot discord among God’s faithful, other vices, and that ancient deceiver of the human race, and reduces them to nothing.”

Hildegard died in 1179 and was buried in her convent church. The convent was destroyed by the Swedes in 1632 and her relics were moved to Eibingen. She was a brilliant Christian woman who served others and left a great legacy. That legacy is being promoted by The International Society of Hildegard von Bingen Studies, established in 1983 by Professor Bruce Hozeski of Ball State University.

Hildegard accomplished great things in a time when women were not encouraged to excel outside of the family and home. She resisted pressure from her male superiors to do things their way and she pioneered a unique path as a Christian woman of science.

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 1350 B.C. The glass items produced there were for nobles and high kings. The Egyptians set the early standard in glass-making. They created blue glass beads, beads with embedded amber, and vessels with narrow necks used to store perfume or other precious liquids. They also used glazes of glass to decorate objects made of other materials.

A glass bottle bearing the sign of King Thutmose III, of the eighteenth dynasty of Egypt, is on display in the British Museum in London.

The artisans of Mesopotamian also produced glass. 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.

Related reading: Egyptian Glass in Ancient Nordic Graves; The Origin of Libyan Desert 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

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Materials (Part 4)

Conglomerates are of interest to geologists and materials specialists. A conglomerate is a coarse-grained sedimentary rock that is composed of gravel-size clasts, e.g., granules, pebbles, cobbles, and boulders. Conglomerates form through different processes that cause the particles to consolidate and harden into rock. The finer materials such as sand, silt, or clay fill the interstices or gaps. This filler is called "matrix" by geologists. The matrix and other particles are often cemented by calcium carbonate, iron oxide, silica, or hardened clay.

Clastic rocks are composed of fragments, or clasts, of pre-existing minerals and rock. In cases where the rocks are composed of consolidated angular gravel-sized particles of rubble (usually from run off), the rock is called "Breccia."

Epiclastic conglomerates are produced by the physical disintegration (weathering) of preexisting rocks. The matrix is usually composed of clay, sand, particles of quartz, calcite, feldspar, hematite and clay cement.

Cataclastic conglomerates are formed by local earth movements, often along fault lines. or by the collapse of breccias into a sinkhole or in cave development.

Pyroclastic conglomerates are produced by the explosive activity of volcanoes. The heat and pressure fuse the particles. Volcanic rocks that have been transported and reworked through the action of wind or water are termed "volcaniclastic."

Phaneritic rock
This rock shows large interlocking crystals characteristic of intrusive 
rocks that cool slowly.

Cement is a human-made conglomerate comprised of sand and gravel aggregates with calcined lime and clay. It is mixed with water to form mortar or mixed with sand, gravel, and water to make concrete. Concrete is a mixture of broken stone or gravel, sand, and cement. In ancient times concrete often contained crushed seas shells.

Cement-matrix composites include concrete (containing coarse and fine aggregates), mortar (containing fine aggregate, but no coarse aggregate), and cement paste (containing no aggregate, whether coarse or fine).

The ancient Romans built extremely durable sea walls using a concrete made from lime and volcanic ash to bind with rocks. Rather than eroding in the presence of sea water, washed and wind, the material gained strength from the exposure. Scientists have discovered that elements within the volcanic material reacted with sea water to strengthen the construction.

Urbano Monte, Renaissance Map Maker

Urbano Monte (1544-1613) was an Italian nobleman who lived in Milan. He produced the map shown above. He copied many of the images from earlier map makers, but he also innovated. In a treatise he wrote for his followers, Monte apologized for his poor drawing skills.

When he was 41, Monte took up cartography and created this world map, replete with mythical creatures, including sea monsters, unicorns and centaurs. Three editions of this map survive today — one at Stanford and two in Italy.

An intensive examination of the Stanford map revealed that Monte was quite the imitator, copying mythical monsters from other world maps, Van Duzer said. For instance, Monte copied an odd-looking turtle bird, a sea monster and a scroll from a map published nearly 30 years earlier by the Italian Michele Tramezzino.

Monte implemented some unorthodox practices. Namely, he left instructions that the 60-page map be arranged like a giant poster and rotated around a pivot point as a 2D disc. Also, he drew the map from the perspective of a bird's-eye view of the North Pole. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Alignment of the Great Pyramid at Giza

Though slightly lopsided, the towering Great Pyramid of Giza is an ancient feat of engineering, and now an archaeologist has figured out how the Egyptians may have aligned the monument almost perfectly along the cardinal points, north-south-east-west — they may have used the fall equinox.

The fall equinox occurs halfway between the summer and winter solstices, when Earth's tilt is such that the length of the day and night are almost the same.

About 4,500 years ago, Egyptian pharaoh Khufu had the Great Pyramid of Giza constructed; it is the largest of the three pyramids — now standing about 455 feet (138 meters) tall — on the Giza Plateau and was considered a "wonder of the world" by ancient writers.

Read more here.

Mercury, Venus and Saturn above the pyramids of Giza, Egypt. This occurs once every 2373 years.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Materials (Part 3)

Besides metals and ores, biblical peoples used resins and oils. A resin is a sticky organic substance that does not dissolve in water (insoluble). Resins are exuded by some trees and plants. The sap of pine and fir trees is a resin. Resins tend to be flammable.

The hard transparent resins, such as the copals, dammars, mastic, and sandarac, are used for varnishes and adhesives. These are especially flammable and require careful storage away from heat and flame.

Oleoresins are a naturally occurring combination of oil and resin that can be extracted from plants. The softer oleoresins include turpentine, frankincense, elemi, and copaiba. Most oleo-resins are extracted from spices such as capsicum, cardamon, cinnamon, and the vanilla bean. Vanilla oleoresin is used in non-food products to provide a vanilla fragrance. Cinnamon oleoresin is used in cinnamon scented candles.

Gum resins like ammoniacum, asafoetida, gamboge, scammony, and myrrh are used to create essential oils. Essential oils were used by biblical peoples for perfumes, medicines, incense, and for purification and anointing.


The gum resin myrrh is extracted from a number of small, thorny trees of the genus Commiphora. The myrrh used by biblical peoples came from trees in Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and India. Biblical peoples used myrrh to make perfume, incense, and medicine. It was also used to treat sore throats, cramps, inflammation, colic, and digestive problems. Myrrh was used to anoint people in dedication services and in preparation for death. The women who came to the tomb very early in the morning to finish preparing Jesus' body likely had myrrh with them. But He was not there. He had risen!


Frankincense resin and the oil produced from it have been used for thousands of years. Frankincense oozes out of the Bosellia tree bark as a gummy sap that hardens into the chucks shown above. These chunks of resin are used to make incense. Many Christians use incense in their services of worship.

There are over 52 references to frankincense in the Bible. Frankincense and myrrh were among the gifts presented to Jesus Christ by the Magi.

The Chinese have used frankincense as a medicine since at least 500 BC. Ancient Egyptian records make frequent reference to this aromatic resin, including some of its medical uses. It was used to make salves for wounds and sores, and it was a key ingredient in the embalming process. The Phoenicians used the smoke from burning frankincense as an insect repellent.


Hyssop is a small bushy aromatic plant of the mint family. The bitter leaves are used in cooking and herbal medicine (phytomedicine). The biblical peoples used hyssop for purification rites. This is what is meant by these words: "Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean." (Psalm 51:7)

Hyssop oil has an antispasmodic property that may help relieve spasms in the respiratory system, nervous system, muscles, and intestines. Biblical peoples used it on wounds to prevent infection.


Bdellium (shown below) is a semi-transparent oleo-gum resin extracted from Commiphora wightii and from Commiphora africana. These trees grow in EthiopiaEritrea and other parts of sub-Saharan Africa. 

Did the manna eaten by the Israelites in the wilderness look like this?

Bdellium, onyx, and gold are listed as being plentiful in the land of Havilah in Genesis 2. Havilah was at the source of the Nile, in the region that came to be called Nubia. Bdellium also is mentioned in Numbers 11:7, where the manna is described as tasting like coriander seed and looking like bdellium resin.

Among the biblical peoples, bdellium was used medicinally, and as perfume and incense. In Hebrew this resin is called bedolach.

Related reading: Tar as an Adhesive and Sealant; Nubia in Ancient History; Materials (Part 1 - Metals); Materials (Part 2 - Ores)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Materials (Part 2) - Ores

Ores are naturally occurring rocks that contain metal or metal compounds in sufficient amounts to make extracting them worth the effort. The method used to extract a metal from its ore depends upon the reactivity of the metal and so how stable the ore is.

This chart shows the "reactivity" of these elements.

Some ores of importance to biblical peoples include carbon and hematite.

Carbon is a nonmetal that has two main forms (diamond and graphite) and that also occurs in impure form in charcoal, soot, and coal. It was ground to make pigment by biblical peoples and the black powder was used to imprint hands on the wall of caves by prehistoric peoples.

This "show of hands" is in the Cueva de las Manos (Cave of the Hands) located in Perito Moreno, Argentina. The cave art dates between 13,000–9000 BC.

Red ochre was ground into powder from red hematite. Because of its earthly red color, red ochre was used as a pigment by prehistoric peoples. It was used in human burial for over 40,000 years. An incised red ochre stone dating to 100,000 years was found at Blombos Cave, Western Cape, in South Africa. (See "Artifacts of Great Antiquity")

Friday, February 9, 2018

Materials Science (Part 1)

Materials scientist Changhong Ke believes boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) will revolutionize the construction of future spacecraft (Photo credit: Jonathan Cohen at Binghamton University, UK)

The interdisciplinary field of materials science, also termed "materials science and engineering" involves the design and discovery of new materials, particularly solids. Material science is related to metallurgy, the branch of science and technology concerned with the properties of metals and their production and purification.

Materials scientists have been responsible for the development of plastics, new alloys, and in the space industry they have created radiation shielding materials containing Hydrogen, Boron and Nitrogen.  

Changhong Ke's team working at Binghamton University in the UK found that boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) form stronger interfaces with epoxy and other polymers than comparable common carbon nanotubes (CNTs).

Metallurgists are materials scientists who specialize in metals such as steel, aluminum, iron, and copper. They often work with alloys, that is, metals that are mixed with each other metals or with other elements, to create materials with specific desirable properties.

One of the most important properties is tensile strength, or the resistance of a material to breaking under tension.

Another concern is corrosion, a natural process that converts a refined metal to a more chemically-stable form, such as its oxide, hydroxide, or sulfide. Corrosion is the gradual destruction of materials (usually metals) by chemical and/or electro-chemical reaction with their environment.

Copper slag found in the region of Edom, Abraham's territory

Among the biblical peoples there were clans that worked with metals and came to understand their properties. They were able to work these metals into useful objects such as knives, spear heads, sacred vessels for the temples, crown, and jewelry. The metal working clans kept their skills and knowledge a secret. By this means they had job security.

The metals worked by biblical metal workers included copper, gold, tin and silver. The oldest copper artifacts date to c. 9000 BC. They learned to alloy tin and copper to produce bronze.

Piles of waste material, called copper slag, have recently been discovered in ancient Edom, indicating large-scale mining operations there.

Royal metal workers created beautiful objects of gold, silver, cooper, and bronze. They made jewelry, knives, crowns, sacred vessels for the temples and shrines, and the gold ephod of the High Priest. They made the gold calves that King Jeroboam placed at the entrances to the shrines in Dan and Bethel in Israel. Moses fashioned a bronze serpent (Numbers 21) and Aaron fashioned a calf of gold (Exodus 32).

Related reading: The Afro-Asiatic Metal Workers, The Religious Symbolism of Gold, The Gold of Ophir; Humans Have Created 208 Species of Materials

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Ancient Twin Cities

The royal city of Heliopolis on the Nile was called “Iunu” (iunu) which means "place of pillars." In the book of Genesis this city is called On. Joseph married the daughter of the priest of On. Here is the hieroglyph for the shrine city of On/iunu on the Nile:

Alice C. Linsley

Many of the cities of the ancient world were royal cities with shrines, temples, palaces, and treasuries. These edifices of stone were characterized by many columns or pillars. The glyph for pillar looks like the letter i.

Some of the ancient shrine cities were iunu (biblical On) on the Nile River, io (Meroe of the North) on the Orontes River, and Sargon's iana/ianna at Ur, at the southern tip of the Tigris-Euphrates Valley.

This map shows where modern Antioch/Hatay is located on the Orontes River.

The shrine cities were built along the ancient waterways and the cargo that moved along the rivers was taxed. To insure that no ships passed the royal cities without paying the required tribute, the rulers built twin cities on opposite sides of the river.

On the Nile there were the twin cities of Nekhen and Nekheb (Elkab). These were built on the opposite sides of the river. The tomb of Horemkhawef in Nekhen and the tomb of Sobeknakht in Elkab were painted by the same artist. Hormose, the chief priest of Nekhen, requested material goods from the temple at Nekheb for use at the temple at Nekhen. The Greeks called the shrine of Nekhen "Hierakonpolis," which means "city of priests."

Read more here.

Francis Collins to Speak at the 2018 ASA Annual Conference

Francis Collins will join us for ASA 2018 annual gathering at Gordon College on July 27-30 at Gordon College. Francis, a fellow of the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA), will be the plenary speaker at the Saturday, July 28 event. That evening event will be open to the public.

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., is a physician-geneticist noted for his groundbreaking discoveries of disease genes, as well as his leadership of the international Human Genome Project, which culminated in April 2003 with the completion of a finished sequence of the human DNA instruction book.

The Human Genome Project was a global, long-term research effort to identify the estimated 30,000 genes in human DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and to figure out the sequences of the chemical bases that make up human DNA.

Since 2009 Dr. Collins has served as the Director of the National Institutes of Health, the largest supporter of biomedical research in the world, spanning the spectrum from basic to clinical research. He is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2007, followed by the National Medal of Science in 2009.

Francis is the author of numerous books, including New York Times best-seller, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (2006), in which he describes his own conversion from atheism to Christianity, and presents the case for an intellectually satisfying harmony between the worldviews of science and faith. 

Dr. Collins is also the founder of the BioLogos Foundation (, which contributes significantly to the science/faith dialog, particularly in the realm of biological origins.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

INDEX of Topics

INDEX (Current as of 1 Febuary 2023)


Bible and Science
Reading the Bible as a Christian
Science and Miracles
The Bible and Science (Part 1)
The Bible and Science (Part 2)

Biblical Anthropology (The Science)
Dr. Judith Curry Deserves a Fair Hearing
Mega-Lake Chad
Dark Algae Increases Ice Melt
Climate Science: Learn to read charts
The Reality of Climate Change
Katherine Hayhoe on Climate Change
Climate Cycles Indicate a Dynamic Earth
Complex Climate Changes
When the Sahara Was Wet
Antarctica Once Had Baobab Trees
South American Glaciers Growing
Climate Data Fudge Factor
Kansas Bill Calling for Objectivity in Climate Science Fails
Reality Climate Ideologues Won't Face
Climate Change and Genesis
Lower Solar Irradiance, Higher Atmospheric Temps?
Climate Cycles and Noah's Flood
Climate Studies and the Book of Genesis
Genesis and Climate Change
Two Environmentalists Knock Heads
Climate and Wealth Redistribution
Climate Change and Human Innovation
Antarctic Ozone Hole Smaller
America's Wake Up Call on Climate

You Tube Video Editing

Lemaître's Cosmic Egg
Cosmologies of the Ancient Near East
The Cosmology of Abraham's People

CWIS Charter and News

DNA Studies
Earth Science

Famous Christians in STEM
Remembering Ernest L.Schusky
Robert Runnels Williams (Conquest of Beriberi)
Roger John Williams (Nutrition)


Jesus Christ


Marine Life


Francis Collins on the Coronavirus
The Inventor of the MRI Machine
Yarn Grown From Human Skin Cells
Physician-priests of the Ancient World
Medical Care in Ancient Egypt
Prehistoric Humans used Plants Medicinally
HeLa Cells
The Ancient Nubians Used Antibiotics
Neolithic Medical Care
Herbs Used for Healing in the Bible
Dental Health of Ancient Sudanese




Water/Water Systems/Hydrology