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

LemaƮtre'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