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          In this issue we lead off with the next installment of our guide to the early constellations.  This time we look at the constellation commonly called Cetus, the whale or the sea monster.  It is one of a group of five constellations, all related by a single story.  (Pegasus, the sixth member of the group does not figure directly in this particular tale.) 

          Most of the reports included in “Panorama” have greater significance for a young creation than average.  Lunar catastrophism, the origin of Frank’s ice comets, the rapid formation of the giant planets, and the little big bangs that confound the big bang all relate to some degree to a young universe, if not a universe that escapes our understanding.

On the geocentric front, we look at the evidence that time is not quantized and we analyze the recent report that the speed of gravity is the same as the speed of light.  The two topics have to do with the firmament and the stability of the universe.

Finally in “Panorama,” there is more to report on the increased mass of the earth’s equator.  It seems to be due to a combination of melting glaciers and sea-level shifts induced by El Niño.  The global warming beast raises its ugly head, but are we really undergoing global warming or has the earth actually been cooling over the last 3,000 years?  See for yourself. 

Also in this issue we present another essay by Bartholomew Dobson.  Readers may remember his first one, which documented how belief in extraterrestrial life influenced the early stages of modern science.  This time Bartholomew looks at the wellspring of modern science. 


About the cover


          Finally, we thought readers might be interested in an explanation of the film on the cover of this issue.  One might think it is a new soap film, or some form of plastic, but that is most certainly not the case.

          Don Pettit is an American astronaut who had been stationed aboard the International Space Station since November 2002.  His hobby while there is to conduct a new experiment each Saturday.  It is his way of spending the short amount of free time only available on that day of the week.  One Saturday in February, Don was going to investigate the behavior of soap bubbles under weightlessness.  The soap solution was mixed and ready to go, but just for fun, Don decided to see how water by itself would work. 

          To everyone’s surprise, the water clung to the ring just as a soap film.  It could be touched, swayed back and forth, and stirred without breaking.  It seemed to be tough as rubber. 

          The picture that graces our cover is one of those water films.  However, this one has been painted on by using alcohol-based food colors.  In an hour or so the colors slowly mixed to a brown. 

          The cause of this film lies in the electrical attraction between water molecules, which causes the “surface tension” of water.  That property is the same in earth as it is in space.  What does differ is the competition between surface tension and gravity.  On earth, if a thin film of water is held parallel to the ground, the pull of gravity causes the film to sag in the middle.  Water drains downward from the edge of the loop and a little pool forms.  This makes the film sag more, causing more water to flow down to the pool.  Thus, the pool gets bigger and bigger until its weight rips the film apart.  In orbit, however, the film is in free fall, weightless, so the film doesn’t sag.  The central pool never forms, so the surface tension wins the competition with gravity, and the result is a sturdy long-lasting membrane. 

          The longest water films lasted 12 hours.  They broke because the water eventually evaporated until the film was too thin to stay together.  Each film was between two to four inches (5 to 11 cm) in diameter (the wire ring was adjustable). 

          The discovery has some significance to the waters mentioned in Scripture.  Besides the obvious reference to Job 26:10, which says, God “has compassed the water with bounds,” (also see Proverbs 30:4), this property may play a role in the lower boundary of the waters above the firmament.  That water is said to be frozen (Job 38:30, the context is hidden water which is not likely to refer to the surface of the seas and oceans which are not hidden).  Just how and if this newly discovered toughness relates to the frozen state remains to be seen, but it certainly will have implications for water molecules clustered together in droplets near stars and planets, and in interstellar space. 

          What is well documented on earth is that water’s properties are quite flexible, that there are eight forms of ice, most of which exist at high temperatures and pressures.  These forms have significance inside the earth.  Now we have the first hint of water’s properties in weightless environments.