The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

Go Cardinals!

Cardinals 7
Tigers 2
(Not televised in Romania, but I was up with a sick kid, so I followed the play-by-play on the internet starting at 3:30 AM)

Cardinals 1
Tigers 3
(What was that stuff?)

Cardinals 5
Tigers 0
(A convincing win in the first World Series game at the new Busch Stadium)

Cardinals 5
Tigers 4
(Good enough for a W. Only one more win to go)

Cardinals 4
Tigers 2
(That’s a winner!)

Grace and Peace

October 29, 2006 Posted by | Fun | 3 Comments

Missions Update

The following is from our e-mail update, sent this week to those who support us with their prayers and giving.

Dear Family and Friends in Christ,

“But the Lord said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” —2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” —Hebrews 13:5 ESV

The gospel contains both bad news and good news: The bad news is that apart from Christ we are dead in our sins, and cannot please God. The very good news is that Jesus took our place, taking the punishment that we deserved, so that by trusting in Him we can have eternal fellowship with God.

The gospel doesn’t stop there. God’s grace is as sufficient for us today as it was the day that we, by God’s grace, put our trust in Christ. Living in Bucharest forces us to be continually confronted with our inadequacies. Sometimes our weaknesses are in the area of culture or language—we don’t know where to go for something, or don’t understand a question some one is asking us. It is easy to fall back on “Imi pare rau, vorbesc putin romaneste” (I’m sorry, I only speak a little Romanian). At other times, we don’t feel up to the tasks that are before us, at school, church, or at home. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all and it is easy to get discouraged.

The Christian life isn’t all about God making things go smoothly for us. For the apostle Paul, his life was filled with persecution and hardships, but he was right in the middle of God’s will by experiencing these things. God continues to use our situations, weaknesses, failures, and even sins to remind us that His grace is completely sufficient for us.

“How does God in grace prosecute this purpose [of drawing us sinners closer and closer to Himself]? Not by shielding us from assault by the world, the flesh, and the devil, nor by protecting us from burdensome and frustrating circumstances, nor yet by shielding us from troubles created by our own temperament and psychology; but rather by exposing us to all these things, so as to overwhelm us with a sense of our own inadequacy, and to drive us to cling to Him more closely.” —J.I. Packer, Knowing God, chapter 21.

We are pleased to be serving Christ on your behalf in Bucharest, Romania. Thank you for your prayers and financial support that make it possible for us to minister here at Bucharest Christian Academy and in the Romanian Evangelical Free Church.

Serving our Lord,
Kevin & Shirley

Grace and Peace

October 26, 2006 Posted by | Missions | Leave a comment

Crab Nebula

The Crab Nebula, from Astronomy Picture of the Day, October 26, 2006.

October 26, 2006 Posted by | Astronomy | Leave a comment

National Mole Day

Are you celebrating National Mole Day?

National Mole Dayno, moles are not mammals that make tunnels under your lawn, nor brown spots on your skin, nor spies working within an organizationis a celebration of the chemical concept of the mole.

So, what is a mole? Here’s my Chemistry textbook definition:

Mole: “quantity of a substance that has a mass in grams numerically equal to its formula mass; equal to 6.02 x1023 representative particles.”
Prentice Hall Chemistry, 2nd ed., p. 951

In other words, if carbon has an atomic mass of 12.011 (look on your periodic table), then a mole of carbon atoms has a mass of 12.011 grams, and contains 6.02 x1023 (or 602,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) atoms. This number is called Avogadro’s number.

National Mole Day is celebrated by chemists every year on October 23rd (10/23), starting at 6:02 A.M. Note that this was posted at 6:02 on 10/23! And how does one celebrate National Mole Day? Some do this by telling mole jokes. Here are a few:

  1. What is the best shot Avogadro has ever done on a golf course?
  2. Where does Avogadro stay when he is on vacation?
  3. What does Avogadro put in his hot chocolate?
  4. Which tooth did Avogadro have pulled?
  5. How does Avogadro write to his friends?
  6. What is Avogadro’s favorite Japanese sport?
  7. How many atoms are in a dish of guacamole?

Click on “Read the rest of this entry” to see the answers.

National Mole Day website
Wikipedia article

Grace and Peace

Continue reading

October 23, 2006 Posted by | Chemistry, Fun | Leave a comment

Population #3 — European Demographics

Being that we live in Romania, here are a few thoughts about European demographics:

  • The population of many Eastern European countries is declining. This is due not only to low birthrates but also to high emigration rates. Many young, educated Romanians, for example, desire to move either to Western Europe or to the United States. I have known people with college degrees who could earn more money picking olives in Spain than working a business job in Romania. So they move if they can.
  • Many of the countries in Western Europe that have positive growth rates are growing primarily through immigration or high birth rates of immigrants. France, for example, currently has a moslem population that makes up 6% of its population. These are mostly North Africans. Among the under-20 age group in France, the moslems make up 20% of the population. Projecting this into the future, France could be a moslem-majority country by the end of the 21st century.
  • This amplifies the importance of missions to Europe! Which continent has the lowest percentage of Evangelical believers? It isn’t Africa, Asia, Australia, South America, or North America. It is Europe! The churches here need to be strengthened. Europe needs to be re-evangelized, or there could be a repeat of what happened to Asia Minor. The land to which Ephesians, Colossians, and Galatians were written (Turkey) is now 99% moslem. Don’t let the same thing happen to Europe.

European annual growth rates — Wikipedia


Grace and Peace

October 20, 2006 Posted by | Environment, Missions | Leave a comment

The Orbitron

I just finished teaching about electron configurations and orbitals (quantum mechanics stuff) in Chemistry — you know, the 1s22s22p63s23p64s23d6 stuff. Well, maybe you don’t remember. Don’t worry about it.

If you do remember quantum mechanics, you’ll appreciate the graphical depictions of orbitals at The Orbitron, a gallery of atomic orbitals and molecular orbitals.

Even if you don’t remember your quantum mechanics, you can still appreciate the symmetry and order of God’s creation. (A quick review: an orbital is a space around the nucleus of an atom in which an electron is most likely to reside. These volumes range in shape from spherical to donut to… well, take a look).

3d orbitals

7g orbitals (I’ve never seen depictions of these before; they only exist for excited states, not for ground states)

Grace and Peace

October 17, 2006 Posted by | Chemistry | Leave a comment

Population #2

The previous post was about the U.S. population hitting an estimated 300,000,000 this week. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

I read The Population Bomb by Paul Erlich back in the 1970s. Among its predictions:

The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate…

The book was filled with apocalyptic forecasts, but almost none of Erlich’s predictions came to pass.

There are still plenty of “the sky is falling” prognosticators out there. But what does the future really hold, in terms of population growth? Demographers (those who study human population) observe that birth rates are falling, and that we likely will not have the nightmare scenarios of The Population Bomb. Instead, global population will likely hit a peak sometime in the mid to late 21st century, and then start declining. This will happen given current population trends; nothing radical needs to be done. As societies become more urbanized, and as people have more access to clean water, adequate nutrition, and health care, their birth rates almost always decline.

This graphic shows projected population growth through the 21st century:

Scientific American, “The Climax of Humanity” Sept. 2005

The medium projection is for population to peak at a little over nine billion in the latter half of the 21st century. Factors that will affect this include what actually happens to birth rates and death rates; as well as economic growth, which tends to reduce population growth.

Where will that population growth be? Much of it will be in Africa, while other parts of the world will see declining population:

Projected Population Change, 2005 to 2050

Region 2005 Population (millions) 2050 Population Estimate (millions) % Change
Canada 32 43 +34%
U.S. 298 395 +33%
Central America 147 210 +43%
Caribbean 39 46 +18%
South America 375 527 +41%
Northern Europe 96 106 +10%
Western Europe 186 186 0%
Southern Europe 149 139 -7%
Eastern Europe 297 224 -25%
Russia 143 112 -22%
Northern Africa 191 312 +63%
Western Africa 264 587 +122%
Middle Africa 110 303 +175%
Eastern Africa 288 679 +136%
Southern Africa 54 56 +4%
Western Asia 214 383 +79%
South-Central Asia (incl India) 1611 2495 +55%
Southeastern Asia 556 752 +36%
Eastern Asia (incl. China) 1524 1587 +4%
Japan 128 112 -13%
Oceania 33 48 +45%

Data from Human Population Grows Up, by Joel E. Cohen, Scientific American, September 2005, pp. 48-55

Grace and Peace

October 17, 2006 Posted by | Environment | 2 Comments


The population of the United States is hitting 300,000,000 today (Tuesday).

US Census Bureau Population Clock (11:30 AM Tuesday Morning, Eastern European Time Zone)

A few observations:

  • The United States is not overpopulated. Even relatively high-density areas, such as the Northeast and southern California have lower population densities than much of Europe and Asia.
  • High population has not necessarily led to environmental disasters. Yes, there are environmental problems, but many of them were worse (air and water quality) when the U.S. population was lower.
  • Population growth in the U.S., as in most of the world, is at a slower rate than it was 40 years ago. It won’t keep on growing to a billion or more.
  • If there is a problem, it is with consumptive, materialistic lifestyles. Does all that stuff make us happier?


Grace and Peace

October 17, 2006 Posted by | Environment | Leave a comment

Ununoctium — Element 118

Ununoctium (element 118, symbol Uuo) has been created by a lab in Russia, as part of a joint U.S.-Russia project. They created three atoms of ununoctium-294 by colliding nuclei of californium-249 with nuclei of calcium-48:

I’ve already added it to my classroom periodic table:


  • The creation of Uuo has been announced before. In 1999, a team of American scientists announced that they had synthesized this element, only to have other scientists pick their evidence apart.
  • I haven’t seen this reported on news sites yet; I’m not sure why not. It is on the Wikipedia home page today, with the article on ununoctium giving more details. Being that anyone can edit a Wikipedia article, this left me a little sceptical until I found the news release from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory online.
  • The name “ununoctium” is a temporary name meaning 1-1-8. It may take years for a decision to be made on its official name and symbol.


Webelements page on ununoctium — gives the story of the retracted 1999 creation of ununoctium
Wikipedia article on ununoctium

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory press release

Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, Dubna, Russia

Grace and Peace

October 16, 2006 Posted by | Chemistry | 1 Comment

North Korea Atomic Bomb Test

The basic USGS information regarding the near-surface 4.2 magnitude earthquake in North Korea, including location maps, can be found here.


Grace and Peace

October 12, 2006 Posted by | Geology | Leave a comment

Lake Effect

The first major winter storm of the season is hitting the Great Lakes right now. The weather radar at Intellicast shows lake-effect snows hitting both the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan. As the air moves over the Great Lakes, it picks up moisture, which is then dumped as snow over the land downwind.

Lake effect snows produce the greatest amount of precipitation when the air is cold but the water is still relatively warm. The greater the contrast, the greater the precipitation. Over the Great Lakes, these types of storms typically occur less frequently in late winter, as either the lakes freeze over, or as the lake water temperature decreases, which reduces evaporation.

I love snow; I wish I were there.

Wikipedia article: Lake effect snow.

Grace and Peace

October 12, 2006 Posted by | Meteorology | Leave a comment

Pleistocene megafauna — Coming to a drive-thru safari park near you

North America just isn’t the same without its native camels, horses, mastodons, and saber-toothed cats. Not all of these can be brought back, but how about reintroducing what we can into the wild? And substituting elephants for mastodons, and lions for saber-toothed cats. That is the proposal in the November issue of The American Naturalist. The article, by Donlan et al., is entitled Pleistocene Rewilding: An Optimistic Agenda for Twenty-First Century Conservation. It is not available online, but a news summary of it can be found at ScienceDaily. The abstract can be found here.

(Megafauna = large animals)

image from Wikipedia

Grace and Peace

October 5, 2006 Posted by | Biology | Leave a comment

Nobel Prizes 2006

The three 2006 science Nobel Prizesfor physics, chemistry, and medicinehave all been awarded to Americans.

  • Chemistry awarded to Roger Kornberg of Stanford University, for his work on the transcription of DNA to messenger RNA.
  • Physics awarded to George Smoot of UC-Berkeley and John Mather of NASA for their discovery of small variations of the microwave microwave background radiation.
  • Medicine awarded to Craig Mello of the U Mass Medical Center and Andrew Fire of Stanford University for their work on RNA interference in cells, which helps to understand the function of individual genes.

American science is far from being dead.

Grace and Peace

October 4, 2006 Posted by | General | Leave a comment

Hurricane Tracks

This image, from Wikipedia, shows hurricane tracks from 1985 to 2005. It is the Wikipedia picture of the day for October 3, 2006.

Click here for a larger image.

Grace and Peace

October 3, 2006 Posted by | Meteorology | Leave a comment

A Lot of Gas

A commonly expressed argument against human-induced global warming is that

A single eruption the size of the Mt. St. Helens eruption released more of these [greenhouse] gases, dust and ash into the atmosphere than all such emissions by human activity since the beginning of recorded human history. And there are numerous volcanic eruptions yearly.

I got that from an article called Man-Made Global Warming Hoax. I could have gotten it from many places, and have seen it used a number of times by people commenting on other blogs when the topic of climate change comes up.

But it isn’t true.

According to the US Geological Survey:

  • annual volcanic production of CO2: 130-230 million metric tons
  • annual human production of CO2: 22 billion metric tons
  • therefore human production of CO2 is at least 100 times greater than volcanic production
  • It would take “17,000 additional volcanoes like Kilauea” to emit the amount of CO2 produced by human activities.

The USGS article is called Volcanic Hazards and their Effects.

No matter what side of the argument we are on, we need to be careful of our facts. My advice is to document every source, and to not say anything without knowing where it comes from.

Grace and Peace

October 2, 2006 Posted by | Climate Change, Environment | Leave a comment

Global Warming & Wayne Grudem

Last week, I linked to a Christianity Today article on global warming. I’ve been thinking about a quote by theologian Wayne Grudem in the CT article:

Activities that produce carbon dioxide—such as “breathing, building a fire to cook or keep warm, driving a car or tractor, or burning coal to produce electricity … [are] morally good and necessary activities that God intended for us,” said Wayne Grudem, research professor of Bible and theology at Phoenix Seminary. “It seems very unlikely to me that God would have set up the earth to work in such a way that these good and necessary activities would actually destroy the earth.”

I agree with his first point—that many carbon dioxide-producing activities are both good and necessary. But I’m not sure about his second point:

“It seems very unlikely to me that God would have set up the earth to work in such a way that these good and necessary activities would actually destroy the earth.”

Isn’t this an “If God had meant humans to fly He would have given them wings” kind of argument?

Note: I deeply respect Wayne Grudem. His Systematic Theology is not a dry exposition of Biblical doctrines, but a rich, devotional, worshipful work that I highly recommend.Grace and Peace

October 2, 2006 Posted by | Christianity, Climate Change, Environment | Leave a comment

Global Bubbling

Scientific American magazine offers some of its articles online for free. Free material from the October issue includes Impact From the Deep, which gives evidence that some mass-extinctions in Earth history were not caused by asteroid impacts but by massive upwellings of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas from the oceans. Here’s the scenario:

  1. High levels of volcanic activity leading to high levels of atmospheric CO2 and methane.
  2. Increase in global atmospheric temperatures due to a stronger greenhouse effect.
  3. Increase in oceanic temperatures.
  4. Decrease in oceanic oxygen content (warm water holds less dissolved gas).
  5. Lower oceanic oxygen content allows H2S-rich water from depth to rise to the surface.
  6. Poisonous H2S causes mass-extinctions in the oceans.
  7. H2S diffuses into the atmosphere, killing many land plants and animals.

The level of atmospheric CO2 that accompanied this bubbling of oceanic H2S was around 1000 ppm. The current CO2 concentration is 385 ppm, with an increase of 2-3 ppm per year. At this rate, CO2 could be at 900 ppm by the end of the century. The warning: Higher levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere could lead not only to global climate change, but also to global H2S asphixiation.

Here is my initial response:

  • The article was written by Peter Ward, one of the authors of the respected book Rare Earth. That gives it credibility.
  • The data seems sound. We can get a good understanding of past global CO2 levels, H2S levels, and rates of extinction through carbon isotope studies and paleontology.
  • From the following graph, There were also long periods of elevated CO2 levels which did not lead to mass-extinctions. This may be the greatest weakness of the hypothesis.

Graphic from Scientific American

  • Because of this, the investigators may have a good hypothesis, but it still needs work.
  • Of course, many will dismiss this as the just the latest unlikely disaster scenario from wild tree-hugging environmentalist wackos. But if it is to be dismissed, it should be on scientific merits, not because of a knee-jerk reaction.

Grace and Peace

October 2, 2006 Posted by | Environment, Geology, Scientific American | Leave a comment