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Art and heliocentrism

I saw a most interesting TV art programme a couple of days ago, comparing the style of painting from various times. What was striking, and it was noted in the commentary, was the change which happened at the same time that the heliocentric idea was taking root. Before this came large portraits, filled with sturdy, confident detail — people who were at ease with themselves while God was in his heaven and all was (relatively) right on the earth. Even the children have big, bold eyes and look at us all in the eye. They knew where they stood and the rules they must obey. But compare this with the pictures which follow, when geocentricity is pushed aside. The people have disappeared into the landscapes and are diminished by huge skies. We are no longer at the centre of things but mere specks in the universe.
 — Anne Day (U.K.)

Suppose God had allowed the tower of Babel1

What is the greatest height to which the Tower of Babel could have been raised, before the materials carried to the summit lost all their gravity?

To answer this mathematical pleasantry, which belongs as much to the physical part of astronomy as to mechanics, we must observe:

1st. That the gravity of bodies decreases in the inverse ratio of the squares of their distance from the centre of the earth. A body, for example, raised to the distance of a semi-diameter of the earth above its sur face, being then at the distance of twice the radius, will weigh only 1/4 of what it weighed at the surface.

2d. If we suppose that this body partakes with the rest of the earth in the rotary motion which it has around the axis, this gravity will be still diminished by the centrifugal force; which, on the supposition that unequal circles are described in the same time, will ne as their radii. Hence at a double distance from the earth sthis force will be double, and will deduct twice as much from the gravity as the surface of the earth. But it has been found, that under the equator the centrifugal force lessens the natural fravity of bodies 1/289th part

3d. In all places, on either side of the equator, the centrifugal force being less, and acting against the gravity in an oblique direction, destroys a less portion, in the ratio of the square of the cosine of the latitude to the square of radius.

These things being premised, we may determine at what height above the surface of the earth a body, participating in its diurnal motion in any given latitude, ought to be to have no gravity.

But it is found by analysis that under the equator, lwhere the diminution of gravity at the surface of the earth, occasioned by the centrifugal force, is exactly 1/289, the required height, counting from the centre of the earth, ought to be 2891/3, or 6 semi-diamters of our globe plus 65/100, or 5 semi-diameters and 65/100 above the surface.

Under the latitude of 30 degrees, which is nearly that of the plains of Mesopotamia, where the descendants of Noah first assembled, and vainly attempted, as we learn from the Scriptures, to raise a monument of their folly, it will be found that the height above the surface of the earth ought to have been 6 27/100 semi-diameters of the earth.

Under the latitude of 60 degrees, this height above the surface of the earth ought to have been 9 47/100 semi-diamters of the earth.

Under the pole this distance might be infinite; because in that part of the earth there is no centrifugal force, since bodies at the pole only turn round themselves.

Planet Formation

On page 1273 of the 3 March, 1995 issue of Science, there is a report from the American Association for the Advancement of Science of trouble with planet formation theories. Andrea Ghez presented a paper at the Atlanta meeting in which she reports that almost all “young” stars are formed as multiple stars. The companion stars gobble up most of the dust and gas needed to form the planets.

Ghez studied T Tauri stars, a group of “very young” (read “hot”) variable stars which she says are “the young counterparts of solar-type stars.” (Translation: baby suns.) Ghez started five years ago gathering images of T Tauri stars using speckle imaging, a technique which gives very sharp images by filtering out the blurring of a star image due to the twinkling effect of the air. After observing 160 T Tauri stars, she found that over 60% of them are in multi-star systems. Since Ghez's technique is only sensitive to binaries lying from 15 to 250 astronomical units (1 a.u. is the earth-sun distance, namely, 93,000,000 miles), some of her “single” stars may actually be multiples.

But astronomers are not discouraged by this. They will continue to look for planetary companions to stars. It is important to note that planets may not be as abundant as science fiction writers make them out to be and also, that there are as yet no planets observed about any other stars, the popular press to the contrary.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre study

M.A.R. Cooper of the City University, London, England, has constructed a three-dimensional computer model of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem (which contains what the Catholic and Orthodox churches proclaim as the tomb of Christ). He is using the model to study the church without disrupting its architecture.

The software he is using provides a 3-D tour of the building with the Integraph InterMap Analytic Machine, a method which may replace aerial photography in archaeology. Cooper's research shows that the present structure contains the remains of several earlier churches.

Gamma ray sources

This geocentric phenomenon requires a bit of explanation. Gamma rays are high-energy rays, photons which are more energetic and penetrating than x-rays. These have been observed in space since the 1960s when satellites launched to spy on Soviet atom-bomb tests first detected them. Astronomers have posited two explanations for their origins. The early observations showed that gamma rays are geocentric. They did not appear to come from one region of the sky or other but appeared to come from all parts of the sky. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, this isotropy led researchers to propose that gamma rays were produced by neutron stars near the sun.

What is a neutron star? A neutron star is a collapsed star with such high gravity that its atoms are packed together to the point that there is no room for electrons to orbit their nucleii. This forces the electrons to combine with protons to become neutrons. The entire star then looks like one giant, 10-kilometers-in-diameter atomic nucleus. It takes a lot of energy to produce a gamma ray, but matter falling onto a neutron star and then exploding could produce gamma rays.

In 1991 the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (GRO satellite) looked for evidence to support the neutron star origin of gamma rays. Since it could detect very faint gamma rays, it was thought that since neutron stars would be confined to the Milky Way, that the GRO would show the fainter gamma ray sources to emanate from the disk of the galaxy. But the faint ones, too, are scattered all over the sky. So the earth is seen at the center of a spherical swarm of gamma ray bursts.

On 22 April, 1995, NASA and the Smithsonian sponsored a meeting on gamma ray bursts at George Mason University. At that meeting, Bohdoan Paczynski of Princeton University argued that the gamma rays must come from the far reaches of the universe. Donald Lamb of the University of Chicago, on the other hand, proposed that the gamma rays emanate from neutron stars which have been ejected from the Milky Way in random directions. (See figure ### for a photo of a neutron star, in this case a pulsar, being thrown out from the supernova explosion where it was born.)

Tempting though Lambs model may be, it makes some unwarranted assumptions. For example, Neal Gehrels of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center noted that the GRO observations require Lamb's only neutron stars which shoot out of the galaxy to burst. Those remaining in the galaxy whould not burst (otherwise there would still be a concentration in the plane of the galaxy). And the ejected neutron stars would only start to burst gamma rays after some delay. On the other hand, lest we conclude that the cosmic source for gamma rays has the upper hand, not even quasars are energetic enough to send gamma rays across the universe.

All this means is that, for the time being, at least, gamma ray bursters are geocentric.

COBE revisited

Readers may recall that the popular press was all abuzz a couple of years ago because the Cosmic Background Explorer satellite (COBE) had detected irregularities in the early stages of the mythical big bang. Well, now the data from the rest of the satellite have been collected and the results were published in Science.2

To make a long article short, although the authors of the aforementioned paper have reinterpreted the data (their figure 4) to fit parameters they deem “more realistic,” the raw data fit the inflationary universe best of all. So what? Well, the inflationary model can “create” (or stretch out) the current universe in a week or less. Indeed, the first version, produced in the early 1970s, produced a universe less than 100,000 years old. Not until ten years later was the theory modified to be consistent with the billions of years old scenario and could the theory gain acceptance among humanistic cosmologists. But the evidence still favors a recent creation.

Ulysses' dust3

The space craft, Ulysses, was launched to Jupiter to be flung by that planet into a polar orbit over the south pole of the sun. Along the way its dust detector registered the impact directions, velocities, and masses of dust particles. Between March 1992 and September 1994, the craft covered (ecliptic) latitudes from 0°° to -79° and heliocentric distances from 5.4 to 2.2 astronomical units (1 a.u. = 93,000,000 miles or 151,000,000 kilometers). The impact rate varied slowly from 0.2 to 0.5 iompacts per day. Most of the dust came from ecliptic latitude 10° +/- 10° and longitude 280° +/- 30°. This indicates that the dust came from outside the solar system. A total of 826 dust particles were registered by the detector. All but 352 were due to Jupiter's effect, occurring near that planet. Of those particles, 33 have no directional information due to an instrumental error which was corrected by a reprogramming command sent on 6 May, 1993.

The remaining 319 particles tell an interesting story which is corroborated by the on-board helium detector which registered a stream of helium arriving from a single direction from ecliptic longitude 253.5° +/- 2.5° abd ecliptic latitude 5.6° +/- 2.5° at a speed of 25.2 +/- 1 km/sec.

The authors of the paper write: “Most of the large dust particles come from directions consistent with the interstellar direction (rotation angles near 90°). In contrast, interplanetary dust orbiting the sun along the usual prograde orbits should come from the opposite direction with rotation angles near 270°.”

Recent impacts

The following three quotes are taken from Science Frontiers4 produced by William Corliss:

1) When something exploded over Siberia on June 30, 1908, flattening more than 2,100 square kilometers of forest, it left no crater or consequence and no obvious pieced of itself. Scientists have claimed all along that it was a comet or asteroid that detonated in the atmosphere. A few less conservative people ventured that it was an alien spaceship that blew up!

G. Longo and colleagues, Universita di Bologna, have apparently found a way to determine the true nature of this invading object. They examined the resin in the conifers surrounding the site of the blast to see if any particulate debris had been trapped in the sticky goo — much as ancient insect have been preserved in amber.

”Longo and his associates used a scanning electron microscope to examine 7,163 particles recovered from the site and from two control sites. They found anomalously high abundances of elements such as iron, calcium, aluminum, copper, gold, zinc, and oxygen in the Tunguska-site samples, strongly peaking around 1908.”

Their conclusion” The impactor was a stony meteorite of normal density.5

2) This remarkable event was mentioned by C. Keay in his review of D. Steel's book Rogue Asteroids and Doomsday Comets.6 It seems to have escaped or been ignored by the scientific press. We quote from Steel's book, in which he complains that such events get little publicity despite their ominous implications for the future of humanity.

”It is therefore not surprising that the 10-meter-or-so asteroid that blew up over a largely vacant area of the western Pacific on February 1, 1994, produced and explosion equivalent to at least ten times that of the Hiroshima bomb (and possibly rather more), was not seen prior to impact. Surveillance satellites registered it as the brightest such explosion that they have picked up so far. Despite the efforts of numerous scientists in this are of study to make the millitary aware that such detonations do occur naturally, it appears that the U.S. President was awakened because the Pentagon thought that this incident might be a hostile nuclear explosion.

3) In a review of D. Steel's new book Rogue Asteroids and Doomsday Comets, C. Keay injects a stratling bit of news: “Too late for Duncan Steel to include before his book went to press, comes the latest news that British astronomer Mark Bailey and his colleagues have discovered that a Tunguska-like event in 1930 blasted flat a huge expanse of jungle near an upper tributary of the Amazon in Brazil close to the border of Peru. The resulting fires burned for months. The only European near at hand was a Catholic priest, whose reports of the incident have lain unnoticed in the Vatican library until now.”7

Iron on the moon versus iron on earth

Paul Lucey, G. Taylor and Erick Malaret have analyzed the abundance distribution of iron on the moon as derived from the Clementine space probe.8 They find that the iron content of the rugged, moutainous regions of the moon are 7 to 8 percent richer in iron than are the lunar plains, consistent with the plains being filled with lunar magma. They reach the conclusion that the iron abundance on the moon is different enough from that of earth that the two bodies could never have been one. That is, the authors conclude that the data exclude “models for lunar origin that require the Earth and moon to have the same compositions, such as fission and coaccretion, and favors giant impact and capture.” In other words, we have one more piece of evidence aginast Darwin's theory that the moon split off from the earth a billion years ago, and one more piece of evidence that the earth and moon could not have formed from the same cloud (or the same region of space) as required in Laplace's nebular hypothesis which is the leading theory for solar system formation.

Pluto and Charon are young?

At the 1994 annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society, David J. Tholen et al. of the University of Hawaii reported that the current orbit of Charon about Pluto is less than 10 million years old. This conclusion was based on a study of 60 images of Pluto and its moon Charon, which pictures were taken over an interval of 15 months. They show Charon's orbit to be elliptical whereas Pluto's mass would ”quickly” rendered it circular. It is postulated that a large object (100 to 250 kilometers in diameter) many have struck Pluto or Charon within the last 10,000,000 years. Speculation has it that the object may have come from the Kuiper belt, a proposed source of short-period comets. About 20 bodies of 100 kilometer diameter or more have been found from Saturn on out. Or maybe the two are recovering from their traumatic creation 6,000 years ago? (See picture of Pluto and Charon on cover.)
The planet about 51 Pegasi and evolution

The press has made a great deal lately, in the United States, about the finding that some planetary-type body orbits the star 51 Pegasi. The body is taken to have a mass equal to Jupiter's but it is 1% of the distance from its star as Jupiter is from the sun. At that distance it grazes that star's outer atmosphere.

Whether it could survive so long near the star aside (astronomers report that theoretically it can), it is in the wrong place to have formed there. In other words, if the cloud-accretion models are correct for star formation, then the planet 51 Pegasi B is too close to its star to have formed the icy core required by theory. If it is rocky, then the disk the planet formed from would have to be ten times more massive than its central star, which is thought unlikely. For comparison, the planets contain 1% of the mass in the solar system with the sun having the other 99%.

Local drift

The January 1996 issue of Sky and Telescope reports, under “News Notes,” page 15, on the motion of the Local Group of galaxies through space. The Local Group consists of the Milky Way, the Magellanic Clouds, the Andromeda Galaxy, the Whirlpool Galaxy, and a number of lesser galaxies all within roughly 10 million light years from us. Since the '70s the 3°K heat flow of the universe flows past the local group from the constellation Hydra at about 370 miles per second (610 km/sec). Most astronomers take the 3°K radiation field to be motionless in the universe, that is, to be at rest. Lately, Tod R. Lauer of Kitt Peak National Observatory and Marc Postman of the Space Telescope Science Institute looked at the brightest galaxies in each of 119 galaxy clusters. Instead of finding a motion of 370 miles per second from Hydra, they found the clusters to be drifting by us at about 370 miles per second from the constellation of Lepus (just under Orion), which is about 90° from Hydra.

The 119 galaxies spread out to a distance of roughly 400 million light years from earth. If the heat field of the universe is taken as the standard of rest, then, on average, the galaxies out to 400 million light years move through the heat field at 400 miles per second (700 km/sec) in a third direction. The geocentric implication of this study, and others like it, is that the rate of flow of the universe's heat field past earth is much lower than average, indicating the earth to be relatively stationary in the cosmos. Also, the Lauer and Postman study belies the presence of cold dark matter as the missing mass of the universe.

Interestingly, a study of Type Ia supernovae in 13 galaxies out to the same 400 million light years reveals a drift the same size as the heat flow but with an apex 30° (with an error of 30°) from Hydra, consistent with the heat flow results.

Resurfacing on Venus10

In what follows I quote the text in total but intersperse my interpretations and comments in square brackets.

”The absence of ancient heavily cratered terrain on Venus is evidence of effective resurfacing of this planet [in other words, the surface cannot be billions of years old]. Venera and Magellan images show that the resurfacing worked predominantly in the form of volcanic and tectonic activity [although no active volcanoes have yet been found on Venus] with a minor role for exogenic, mostly eolian [i.e., wind-driven], processes. The pristine [that is, the young look] nature of the majority of the impact crater population and the randomness of their distribution around the planet can be explained by two end-member models: 1) catastrophic volcanic resurfacing ~300-500 m.y. ago followed by a period of relative quiescence (Schaber at al., 1992) and 2) equilibrium resurfacing in the numerous zones of activity of limited size (Phillips et al., 1992). These models are considered in the light of observations on age relations among different geologic complexes and structures made in 36 ~1000 x 1000 km areas and several larger regions. [How can one tell the age of rocks from hundreds of miles above the surface of the planet?]

”Systematic changes in style and intensity of volcanic and tectonic activity with geologic time have been found. Because geomorphic records seen on Magellan images characterize only the last 5-10% of the geologic history of Venus, the first 90-95% of it are the area of hypotheses and models which are to be made in future studies.” [In other words, Venus seems to be at most 500 million years old.]

A problem for reversing magnetic fields11

Abstract: The condensation of chemical species of high molecular mass such as methane, ammonia, and water can inhibit convection in the hydrogen-helium atmospheres of the giant planets. Convection is inhibited in Uranus and Neptune when methane reaches an abundance of about 15 times the solar value and in Jupiter and Saturn if the abundance of water is more than about five times the solar value. The temperature gradient consequently becomes superadiabatic, which is observed in temperature profiles inferred from radio-occultation measurements. The planetary heat flux is then likely to be transported by another mechanism, possibly radiation in Uranus, or diffusive convection.

What does all that mean? A certain kind of circulatory motion is necessary in order that a magnetic field may reverse in time, that is, that the north and south magnetic poles flip. (What is needed is a ring of circulating cylinders, each turning in a direction opposite its neighbor.) What the results of this paper imply, if correct, is that in the giant gaseous planets, at least, such reversals will be fought by the heavy gasses in the atmosphere. It does not mean that further down such cells may not exist, but it does make that less likely. Such cells cannot exist in the earth where an even more unlikely electrical current, a spiraling loop, is needed.

On the volume of a bath continued

In issue number 62, (1992) we printed an article dealing with the size of biblical units of measurements, particularly, the cubit and the bath. At that time we deduced that the bath was 37 liters if the molten sea which Solomon built for the temple was a cylinder. Subsequently, Dr. John Byl questioned that assumption (No. 73, 1995) and pointed out a computa tional error in that original paper (the bath, for a cylindrical sea, would be 0.114 baths per cubic cubit, amounting to 10.9 liters, not 37 liters). The relevant portions of scripture are I Kings 7:23-26 which describes the molten sea thusly:

23 And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.
24 And under the brim of it round about there were knops compassing it, ten in a cubit, compassing the sea round about: the knops were cast in two rows, when it was cast.
25 It stood upon twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east: and the sea was set above them, and all their hinder parts were inward.
26 And it was an hand breadth thick, and the brim thereof was wrought like the brim of a cup, with flowers of lilies: it contained two thousand baths.

II Chronicles 4:2-5 also describes the molten sea:

2 Also he made a molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, and five cubits the height thereof; and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.
3 And under it was the similitude of oxen, which did compass it round about: ten in a cubit, compassing the sea round about.  Two rows of oxen were cast, when it was cast.
4 It stood upon twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east: and the sea was set above upon them, and all their hinder parts were inward.
5 And the thickness of it was an handbreadth, and the brim of it like the work of the brim of a cup, with flowers of lilies; and it received and held three thousand baths.

In a series of 1977 papers, Zuidhof12 reports on archaeological find ings of these units of measurement. He reports the following values:

1 cubit = 51.8 cm = 20.4 inches = 7 handbreadths
1 bath = 3600 cubic fingers = 22.8 liters.
1 temple cubit = 7 handbreadths = 28 fingers.
Talmud states 1 bath = 22.9 l.
Albright, from a broken-off top of a 1 bath jar (so inscribed) gives 1 bath = 22 l.
Reconstruction of two 2-bath jars at Lachish gives 22.7 l for one and 23.3 for the other.

Just how consistent are all these measurements? Well, consider that there seemed to have been two cubits, the standard one for commerce, which is about 18.5 inches, or 47 cm., and the “royal” or “temple” cubit which is the 7 handbreadth cubit mentioned by Zuidhof. Let's assume that the larger cubit was used for the molten sea. The outer circumference of the sea (under the brim) was 30 cubits, giving a diameter of 30/p = 9.55 cubits. The radius is half that or 4.77 cubits. The wall of the sea was an handbreadth which is a seventh of a temple cubit and so is 0.14 cubit. Thus the inner radius of the molten sea is 4.77-0.14 cubits or 4.63 cubits. If the molten sea is a cylinder then it holds more water than a hemisphere, the alternative shape and the one mentioned by Josephus (see Byl's paper above). Doing so will give us the largest volume of water for a bath by letting the 3000 (or 2000) baths hold a maximum amount of water. Lastly, let's assume that the temple cubit is 52 cm. as indicated by Zuidhof (rounding up).

Under those assumptions, the volume of the molten sea is 327.3 cubic cubits or 46,021,000 cm3 or 46,021 liters. Divide this by 3000 gives 15.3 liters per bath or, if we use 2,000 baths as the volume, we get 23.0 liters per bath. The 2,000-bath figure of 1 Kings seems correct with the 3,000 bath figure of 2 Chronicles apparently in error. But there is enough uncertainty in the bath to allow the 3,000 bath figure to stand. Nevertheless, Jim Hanson, some twenty years ago, looked at the difference and computed what volume of grain the sea could hold if it is piled up above the brim in a cone to overflowing. Given the observed angle with which a file of grain will support itself, it is possible that the 2,000 bath figure is liquid measure while the 3,000 baths refer to dry measure.


1 From: Recreations in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy: containing amusing dissertations and enquiries concerning a variety of subjects the moset remarkable and proper to excite curiosity and attention to the whole range of the mathematical and philosophical sciences. M. Ozanam. Enlarged by M. Montucla. Translated into English by Chas. Hutton. Vol. 4 (of 4). (London: G. Kearsley), 1803. Pp. 40-42.

2 Scott, D., J. Silk and M. White, 1995. “From Microwave Anisotropies to Cosmology,” Science, 268(5212):829-835.

3 Bahuhl, M., et al. 1995. “Dust measurements at high ecliptic latitudes”, Science, 268(5212):1016-1019.

4 Corliss, Wm., 1995. “Remnants of Tunguska,” “Huge Fireball Explosion in 1994,” and “A Tunguska-like Blast in Brazil,” Science Frontiers, No. 102, Nov-Dec, pp. 1 and 3. The publication is produced by The Sourcebook Project, P.O. Box 107, Glen Arm, MD 21057, U.S.A.

5 Anon., 1995. “Remnants of Tunguska,” Astronomy, 23:26. Oct.

6 Steel's book is available from The Sourcebook Project at the above address for $24.95 U.S.

7 Keay, Colin, 1995. “The Non-Denominational Day of Reckoning,” The Skeptic, 15:44. This journal is published in Australia and should not be confused with the U.K. journal of the same name.

8 Lucey, Paul G., G. Jeffrey Taylor and Erick Malaret, 1995. ”Abundance and Distribution of Iron on the Moon,” Science 268:1150-1153 (26 May).

9 Cowen, Ron, 1995. “Some Like It Hot,” Science News 148:412-413.

10 A. T. Basilevsky, A. A. Pronin (Vernadsky Institute, Moscow; G. G. Schaber (USGS, Flagstaff), J.W. Head (Brown U., Providance, R.I) and R. J. Phillips (Washington U., St. Louis). NASA Internet News.

11 T. Guillot, 1995. “Condensation of Methane, Ammonia, and Water and the Inhibition of Convection in Giant Planets,” Science, 269:1697-1699.

12 Based on Zuidhof, A., 1977. “King Solomon's molten sea,” Clarion, The Canadian Reformed Magazine. 26(24):500-502; 540-541.
Ibid., 1978. 27(1):7-8; (4):82-83.

Translated from WS2000 on 14 February 2005 by ws2html.