The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

Science Videos #2

NOVA — Watch Online — A few episodes are available online, some in part, some entirely. Segments range from 2 minutes (Lab meat — growing edible meat in a lab culture) to 146 minutes (The Elegant Universe — all about string theory).

MIT OpenCourseWare — Videos of complete lecture courses at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A science nerd’s paradise, but perhaps not for everyone. Where do I begin?

Bambi Meets Godzilla — A classic short film about the dangers of exotic species — like rabbits in Australia, only worse.

Grace and Peace

January 31, 2007 Posted by | Misc | Leave a comment

Eat well

From Scientific American Blog:

The best dietary advice is fundamentally, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Not too complicated. Not very expensive. Not tied to the latest diet fad. Good for your heart, and your wallet.

However, I’ll still eat a good steak every once in a while.

Grace and Peace

January 30, 2007 Posted by | Health, Scientific American | Leave a comment

Science Videos #1

Thermite reaction – a chemical reaction that generates enough heat to melt iron.

Alkali metal reactions – I’ve put sodium in water for a science demonstration, but that seems rather tame compared to rubidium or cesium in water!

Tacoma Narrows Bridge – the ultimate engineering mishap. Concrete and steel are flexible!

Liquid metal – watch the ball bounce, and bounce, and bounce…

Grace and Peace

January 30, 2007 Posted by | Chemistry, Misc, Physics | Leave a comment

Sponge Moon

Today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day is of Hyperion, one of Saturn’s 34+ moons.

Here is the APOD discription of this image:

Explanation: What lies at the bottom of Hyperion’s strange craters? Nobody knows. To help find out, the robot Cassini spacecraft now orbiting Saturn swooped past the sponge-textured moon in late 2005 and took an image of unprecedented detail. That image, shown above in false color, shows a remarkable world strewn with strange craters and a generally odd surface. The slight differences in color likely show differences in surface composition. At the bottom of most craters lies some type of unknown dark material. Inspection of the image shows bright features indicating that the dark material might be only tens of meters thick in some places. Hyperion is about 250 kilometers across, rotates chaotically, and has a density so low that it might house a vast system of caverns inside.

The past 30 years of solar system exploration have revealed an astounding variety and complexity of the planets, moons, and other objects in our solar system. Whether one is studying astronomy, chemistry, or cell biology, I’ve learned that we should expect:

  • Order
  • Complexity
  • Surprises

Our discoveries in the natural world reflect a Creator who is a lawmaker (the universe is orderly and there are fundamental laws which underlie its workings), complex (how can we ever understand the relationships within the Trinity), and full of surprises.

May you find joy in all the things God has created, and most supremely, in his son, Jesus Christ.

Grace and Peace

January 28, 2007 Posted by | Astronomy | Leave a comment

A wild world of a different sort

Back in October, I wrote a post about the idea of introducing large mammals (elephants, camels, lions, and so on) into the high plains of the United States (see Pleistocene mega-fauna — coming to a drive-thru safari park near you). The idea is to somewhat restore the pre-human ecosystem by bringing in mammals that went extinct at about the same time that humans arrived in North America. Elephants would fit into the niche that mammoths occupied, camels were native to North America, and lions would fill the role of large carnivorous cat.

The April 2007 issue of Scientific American will have an article on this concept. Here is most of an entry from Scientific American Blog (Jan 23, 2007):

Continue reading

January 27, 2007 Posted by | Biology, Environment, Scientific American | Leave a comment

Wild World

At the middle school and high school level, biology textbooks usually have a section on biomes, which are large regions of the Earth that have distinctive communities of plants and animals. Examples of biomes include desert, tropical rainforest, temperate grasslands, and tundra. These biomes can be subdivided into smaller ecoregions, which have more specific assemblages of plant and animal types.

The World Wildlife Fund and National Geographic have teamed up to create Wild World, an online mapping program that has the world divided up into 867 ecoregions. Examples of ecoregions include:

In Romania–

  • Central European mixed forest
  • Carpathian montane coniferous forest
  • East European forest steppe
  • Pannonian mixed forest
  • Pontic steppe

Each of these has a unique combination of plants and animals.

The native ecoregions in my home state of Montana (God’s country) include:

  • Northern Short grasslands
  • Montana valley and foothills grasslands
  • South central Rockies forest
  • North central Rockies forest

Each of these ecoregions, of course, could be further subdivided into more specific regions.

I like the site because it has good maps. General enough for an overview, but more detailed than a world biome map.

Grace and Peace

January 23, 2007 Posted by | Biology, Environment, Web Site of the Week | Leave a comment

The Doomsday Clock

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved its famous “Doomsday Clock” to 5 minutes before midnight. This clock has moved forward and backwards depending on this (“liberal”) group’s perception of how close the world is to nuclear holocaust (timeline). It has been as close to midnight as 2 minutes during the 1950s, when the US and USSR were spiraling deeper and deeper into an arms race of bigger and better means of mass destruction. It inched away from the midnight mark as test-ban and arms-reduction treaties were signed. The end of the cold war in the late 1980s and early 1990s brought the clock all the way back to 17 minutes before midnight, but terrorism and nuclear weapons proliferation brought it back to 11:53 in 2002.

Here is the rational the Bulletin used for moving the clock closer to doom:

The world stands at the brink of a second nuclear age. The United States and Russia remain ready to stage a nuclear attack within minutes, North Korea conducts a nuclear test, and many in the international community worry that Iran plans to acquire the Bomb. Climate change also presents a dire challenge to humanity. Damage to ecosystems is already taking place; flooding, destructive storms, increased drought, and polar ice melt are causing loss of life and property.

A few thoughts, and a question:

  • This is the first time that the Doomsday clock has included criteria other than the threat of the use of nuclear weapons. “Climate change also presents a dire challenge to humanity.”
  • Nuclear war or terrorism continue to be a real threat, and will for a very long time.
  • The US did win the cold war, but this hasn’t secured a safer world.
  • Some people in the world are running scared. They see threats out there that could destroy civilization. The rest of the world has its head buried in the sand.
  • “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Mt 5:9 ESV). Whatever this means, it has to mean something that involves Christians activily working for peace. The #1 peace that the world needs is peace with God through Jesus Christ. Other types of peace (between nations, with creation) will flow out of this.
  • The US and USSR never used their nuclear weapons. I don’t expect extremists (Islamic or secular) to show that same restraint in the future. I expect that in my lifetime, someone will use a nuclear weapon.
  • The US and USSR didn’t use nuclear weapons because of a concept called “Mutually Assured Destruction,” or MAD. Here was the incentive: if we nuke them, they’ll nuke us. It kept the peace, and for that I’m thankful. But is that kind of thinking ethical, when one has thousands of warheads available?

Grace and Peace

January 18, 2007 Posted by | Environment, Ethics | Leave a comment

Knowing God – Chapter 4 Quotes

Chapter 4 of Knowing God is “The Only True God,” and it has to do with the prohibition in the Ten Commandments against making idols.

“Idolatry consists not only in the worship of false gods, but also in the worship of the true God by images” (quoted from Charles Hodge).

Just as it forbids us to manufacture molten images of God, so it forbids us to dream up mental images of Him… How often do we hear this sort of thing: ‘I like to think of God as the great Architect (or, Mathematician; or Artist).’ ‘I don’t think of God as a Judge; I like to think of Him simply as a Father.’ We know from experience how often remarks of this kind serve as the prelude to a denial of something that the Bible tells us about God.

We were made in His image, but we must not think of Him as existing in ours.

Thus it appears that the positive force of the second commandment is that it compels us to take our thoughts of God from His own holy Word.

Grace and Peace

January 18, 2007 Posted by | Christianity, Quotes | Leave a comment

Knowing God – Chapter 3 Quotes

We continue to read Knowing God by J.I. Packer at the dinner table. Chapter three is “Knowing and Being Known.

What were we made for? To know God. What aim should we set ourselves in life? To know God. What is the ‘eternal life’ that Jesus gives? Knowledge of God. ‘This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true god, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent’ (John 17:3). What is the best thing in life, bringing more joy, delight, and contentment, than anything else? Knowledge of God.

Once you become aware that the main business that you are here for is to know God, most of life’s problems fall into place of their own accord.

You can have all the right notions in your head without ever tasting in your heart the realities to which they refer; and a simple Bible-reader and sermon-hearer who is full of the Holy Ghost will develop a far deeper acquaintance with his God and Saviour than more learned men who are content with being theologically correct.

God does not exist for our ‘comfort’, or ‘happiness’, or ‘satisfaction’, or to provide us with ‘religious experiences’, as if these were the most interesting and important things in life.

What matters supremely, therefore, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it—the fact that He knows me.

There is tremendous relief in knowing that His love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench His determination to bless me.

Grace and Peace

January 18, 2007 Posted by | Christianity, Quotes | 1 Comment

World Population

Here is an interesting World Population animation from a biology class web site at the University of Western Kentucky, which calculates the population of the Earth when you were born.

January 17, 2007 Posted by | Environment | Leave a comment

Stellarium

For several years, I have been using Starry Night software in the classroom when teaching about the stars. The students love it, but at $49.95, they were unlikely to be able to do anything with it at home or in our computer lab. I found an excellent substitute for free on the internet: Stellarium.

There are still a number of things I can’t do with Stellarium that Starry Night can do, such as looking at the stars and planets for any time between 4700 BC and AD 9999. But it is still a great tool for learning the constellations, looking for planets, and seeing how these change according to location or time. You can set the viewing location any place on Earth, and change the time as well. Give it a try.

Grace and Peace

January 5, 2007 Posted by | Astronomy, Web Site of the Week | Leave a comment

Gas Prices, County by County

US gasoline prices, on a county-by-county basis, are portrayed on the US National Gas Temperature Map.

Gas here in Europe ranges from around $4 per gallon (here in Romania) to over $6, so no complaining allowed.

Grace and Peace

January 5, 2007 Posted by | Energy, Geography | Leave a comment

Church sign generator

A lot of church signs are goofy, or downright heretical.

But you can make your own church signs at www.churchsigngenerator.com. Here’s a few of my own:

Grace and Peace

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PS More generators:

Official seal, concert ticket, etc…

Street sign

Warning signs

January 5, 2007 Posted by | Fun | Leave a comment

Romania in the EU

As of January 1, 2007, Romania is a member of the European Union. Living in Romania is different than any living anywhere else in the EU. Romanian culture is Latin, so being here is somewhat like living in Italy. For a little fun, watch Europe and Italy, and then remember that Italy is a rather calm place compared to Romania, at least when it comes to automobiles.

Grace and Peace

January 4, 2007 Posted by | Fun, Romania | Leave a comment