Category Archives: Science & Study

Nor With God Without Special Revelation

Leviathan

By Thomas Hobbes

1651

LEVIATHAN OR THE MATTER,
FORME, & POWER OF A COMMON-WEALTH
ECCLESIASTICAL AND CIVIL


To make Covenant with God, is impossible, but by Mediation of such as God speaketh to, either by Revelation supernatural, or by his Lieutenants that govern under him, and in his Name; For otherwise we know not whether our Covenants be accepted, or not. And therefore they that Vow any thing contrary to any law of Nature, Vow in vain; as being a thing unjust to pay such Vow. And if it be a thing commanded by the Law of Nature, it is not the Vow, but the Law that binds them.

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Neutral vs. Charged Objects

As discussed in a previous section of Lesson 1, atoms are the building blocks of matter. There are different types of atoms, known as elements. Atoms of each element are distinguished from each other by the number of protons that are present in their nucleus. An atom containing one proton is a hydrogen atom (H). An atom containing 6 protons is a carbon atom. And an atom containing 8 protons is an oxygen atom.

The number of electrons that surround the nucleus will determine whether or not an atom is electrically charged or electrically neutral. The amount of charge on a single proton is equal to the amount of charge possessed by a single electron. A proton and an electron have an equal amount but an opposite type of charge. Thus, if an atom contains equal numbers of protons and electrons, the atom is described as being electrically neutral. On the other hand, if an atom has an unequal number of protons and electrons, then the atom is electrically charged (and in fact, is then referred to as an ion rather than an atom). Any particle, whether an atom, molecule or ion, that contains less electrons than protons is said to be positively charged. Conversely, any particle that contains more electrons than protons is said to be negatively charged.


Charged versus Uncharged Particles

Positively Charged – Possesses more protons than electrons

Negatively Charged – Possesses more electrons than protons

Uncharged – Equal number of protons and electrons


Charged Objects as an Imbalance of Protons and Electrons

In the previous section of Lesson 1, an atom was described as being a small and dense core of positively charged protons and neutral neutrons surrounded by shells of negatively charged electrons. The protons are tightly bound within the nucleus and not removable by ordinary measures. While the electrons are attracted to the protons of the nucleus, the addition of energy to an atom can persuade the electrons to leave an atom. Similarly, electrons within atoms of other materials can be persuaded to leave their own electron shells and become members of the electrons shells of other atoms of different materials. In short, electrons are migrants – constantly on the move and always ready to try out a new atomic environment.

All objects are composed of these atoms. The electrons contained within the objects are prone to move or migrate to other objects. The process of an electron leaving one material object to reside (perhaps only temporarily) in another object is a common everyday occurrence. Even as you read the words of this web page, some electrons are likely moving through the monitor and adhering to your clothing (assuming that you are using this resource online) (and wearing clothes). If you were to walk across the carpeting towards the door of the room, electrons would likely be scuffed off the atoms of your shoes and moved onto the atoms of the carpet. And as clothes tumble in the dryer, it is highly likely that electrons on one piece of clothing will move from the atoms of the clothing onto the atoms of another piece of clothing. In general, for electrons to make a move from the atoms of one material to the atoms of another material, there must be an energy source, a motive, and a low-resistance pathway.

The cause and mechanisms by which this movement of electrons occurs will be the subject of Lesson 2. For now, it is sufficient to say that objects that are charged contain unequal numbers of protons and electrons. Charged objects have an imbalance of charge – either more negative electrons than positive protons or vice versa. And neutral objects have a balance of charge – equal numbers of protons and electrons. The principle stated earlier for atoms can be applied to objects. Objects with more electrons than protons are charged negatively; objects with fewer electrons than protons are charged positively.

In this discussion of electrically charged versus electrically neutral objects, the neutron has been neglected. Neutrons, being electrically neutral play no role in this unit. Their presence (or absence) will have no direct bearing upon whether an object is charged or uncharged. Their role in the atom is merely to provide stability to the nucleus, a subject not discussed in The Physics Classroom. When it comes to the drama of static electricity, electrons and protons become the main characters.

Charge as a Quantity

Like mass, the charge of an object is a measurable quantity. The charge possessed by an object is often expressed using the scientific unit known as the Coulomb. Just as mass is measured in grams or kilograms, charge is measured in units of Coulombs (abbreviated C). Because one Coulomb of charge is an abnormally large quantity of charge, the units of microCoulombs (µC) or nanoCoulombs (nC) are more commonly used as the unit of measurement of charge. To illustrate the magnitude of 1 Coulomb, an object would need an excess of 6.25 x 1018 electrons to have a total charge of -1 C. And, of course, an object with a shortage of 6.25 x 1018 electrons would have a total charge of +1 C.

The charge on a single electron is -1.6 x 10 -19 Coulomb. The charge on a single proton is +1.6 x 10 -19 Coulomb. The quantity of charge on an object reflects the amount of imbalance between electrons and protons on that object. Thus, to determine the total charge of a positively charged object (an object with an excess of protons), one must subtract the total number of electrons from the total number of protons. This operation yields the number of excess protons. Since a single proton contributes a charge of +1.6 x 10 -19 Coulomb to the overall charge of an atom, the total charge can be computed by multiplying the number of excess protons by +1.6 x 10 -19 Coulomb. A similar process is used to determine the total charge of a negatively charged object (an object with an excess of electrons), except that the number of protons is first subtracted from the number of electrons.

Continued…

Original article: Neutral vs. Charged Objects

Brain Synchronization Study Evinces the Image of God

As I sit down at my computer to compose this post, the new Justice League movie has just hit the theaters. Even though it has received mixed reviews, I can’t wait to see this latest superhero flick. With several superheroes fighting side-by-side, it begs the question: “Who is the most powerful superhero in the DC universe?”

I’m not sure how you would respond, but in my opinion, it’s not Superman or Wonder Woman. Instead, it’s a superhero that didn’t appear in the Justice League movie (but he is a longtime member of the Justice League in the comic books): the Martian Manhunter.

Originally from Mars, J’onn J’onzz possesses superhuman strength and endurance, just like Superman. He can fly and shoot energy beams out of his eyes. But, he also has shapeshifting abilities and is a powerful telepath. It would be fun to see Superman and the Martian Manhunter tangle. My money would be on J’onn J’onzz because of his powerful telepathic abilities. As a telepath, he can read minds, control people’s thoughts and memories, create realistic illusions, and link minds together.

Even though it is fun (and somewhat silly) to daydream about superhuman strength and telepathic abilities, recent work by Spanish neuroscientists from the Basque Center on Cognition, Brain, and Language indicates that mere mortals do indeed have an unusual ability that seems a bit like telepathy. When we engage in conversations with one another—even with strangers—the electrical activities of our brains synchronize.1 In part, this newfound ability may provide the neurological basis for the theory of mind and our capacity to form complex, hierarchical social relationships, properties uniquely displayed by human beings. In other words, this discovery provides more reasons to think that human beings are exceptional in a way that aligns with the biblical concept of the image of God.

Brain Synchronization

Most brain activity studies focus on individual subjects and their responses to single stimuli. For example, single-person studies have shown that oscillations in electrical activity in the brain couple with speech rhythms when the test subject is either listening or speaking. The Spanish neuroscientists wanted to go one step further. They wanted to learn what happens to brain activities when two people engage one another in a conversation.

To find out, they assembled 15 dyads (14 men and 16 women) consisting of strangers who were 20–30 years in age. They asked the members of each dyad to exchange opinions on sports, movies, music, and travel. While the strangers conversed, the researchers monitored electrical activities in the brains using EEG technology. As expected, they detected coupling of brain electrical activities with the speech rhythms in both speakers and listeners. But, to their surprise, they also detected pure brain entrainment in the electrical activities of the test subject, independent of the physical properties of the sound waves associated with speaking and listening. To put it another way, the brain activities of the two people in the conversation became synchronized, establishing a deep connection between their minds.

Brain Synchronization and the Image of God

The notion that human beings differ in degree, not kind, from other creatures has been a mainstay concept in anthropology and primatology for over 150 years. And it has been the primary reason why so many people have abandoned the belief that human beings bear God’s image. Yet, this stalwart view in anthropology is losing its mooring, with the concept of human exceptionalism taking its place. A growing minority of anthropologists and primatologists now believe that human beings really are exceptional. They contend that human beings do, indeed, differ in kind, not merely degree, from other creatures, including Neanderthals. Ironically, the scientists who argue for this updated perspective have developed evidence for human exceptionalism in their attempts to understand how the human mind evolved. But, instead of buttressing human evolution, these new insights marshal support for the biblical conception of humanity.

Anthropologists identify at least four interrelated qualities that make us exceptional: (1) symbolism, (2) open-ended generative capacity, (3) theory of mind, and (4) our capacity to form complex social networks.

As human beings, we effortlessly represent the world with discrete symbols. We denote abstract concepts with symbols. And our ability to represent the world symbolically has interesting consequences when coupled with our abilities to combine and recombine those symbols in a countless number of ways to create alternate possibilities. Our capacity for symbolism manifests in the form of language, art, music, and even body ornamentation. And we desire to communicate the scenarios we construct in our minds with other human beings.

But there is more to our interactions with other human beings than a desire to communicate. We want to link our minds together. And we can do this because we possess a theory of mind. In other words, we recognize that other people have minds just like ours, allowing us to understand what others are thinking and feeling. We also have the brain capacity to organize people we meet and know into hierarchical categories, allowing us to form and engage in complex social networks.

In effect, these qualities could be viewed as scientific descriptors of the image of God.

It is noteworthy that all four of these qualities are on full display in the Spanish neuroscientists’ study. The capacity to offer opinions on a wide range of topics and to communicate our ideas with language reflects our symbolism and our open-ended generative capacity. I find it intriguing that the oscillations of our brain’s electrical activity couples with the rhythmic patterns created by speech—suggesting our brains are hard-wired to support our desire to communicate with one another symbolically. I also find it intriguing that our brains become coupled at an even deeper level when we converse, consistent with our theory of mind and our capacity to enter into complex social relationships.

Even though many people in the scientific community promote a view of humanity that denigrates the image of God, common-day experience continually supports the notion that we are unique and exceptional as human beings. But, for me, I find it even more gratifying to learn that scientific investigations into our cognitive and behavioral capacities continue to affirm human exceptionalism and, with it, the image of God. Indeed, we are the crown of creation.

Original article: Brain Synchronization

36 Months

cross of life

The fame of some is counted across decades, while the careers of others are measured over ten, twenty, thirty, forty years… or more.

The influence of still others is measured in poetry or plays, Academy Awards, sports, famous battles, famous inventions, or great contributions to peace, or the sciences, or to human advancement.

But there is One Man, known throughout the entire world, who’s name has been spoken in every tongue, who has won more ground and minds than all the armies of all the nations across all the ages of the world.

And you can comfortably measure His ministry in months.

36 months.

That’s it. 36 months.

That is only 1,095 days and the world has never been the same.

I am old enough now to realize people either adore Him or completely avoid Him. In my opinion the latter is the least sincere response to the Son of Man.

Fear is the natural response of the natural mind. The Man of whom we speak is both Us and Other… and that Other can be pretty intimidating, even frightening.

There comes a time one matures beyond hiding in the dusty but comfortable corners of one’s own mind: when we are finally able to think outside ourselves — beyond our senses, our pain, our fright, our personal catalog of betrayals and self-assurances.

Someone is knocking at the door of our heart. The mind can feel this gentle rapping, yes, this strange invitation, but it cannot comprehend it. It is both familiar and alien, simultaneously Us and Other.

So open the door…

And marvel at the Other Side of Life.

Christmas 2017

Gold Star

Today we celebrate the greatest life ever lived, laid down, and picked up again.

It is entirely appropriate that we do this.

Today should not be a peculiar mood. All the great and meaningful things this season reminds us to observe, we should observe every day. Yes, that’s difficult, but it is the highest mountain that has the best view.

Many of you respect, adore, and cherish the memory of great men and women — defenders, artists, writers, presidents, scholars, saints, explorers, scientists, kings — who themselves respected, adored, and cherished the Man for whom Christmas was named.

I submit if you want to know what made those heroes truly great, you must look past them, back through the centuries, to Bethlehem.

There, like today, you will find skepticism and wonder.

I invite you to consider the latter.

General Relativity and Its Christian Implications Pass Yet More Tests

leaning tower

General relativity ranks as the best description of how the universe behaves. It explicitly incorporates the principle that the laws of physics never change throughout both space and time.

Proving the reliability of general relativity to precisely describe the dynamics (movements) of massive bodies in the universe is fundamental to establishing the space-time theorems.1 The cascading implications continue from there. These theorems prove the beginning (creation) of space and time. The creation of space and time implies the existence of a Creator beyond space and time, which uniquely describes the God of the Bible.

Such theological significance has prompted astronomers and physicists to subject general relativity to rigorous, exhaustive testing. Even though general relativity currently ranks as the most exhaustively tested and best-proven principle in physics, astronomers and physicists feel compelled by its philosophical implications to subject it to even more stringent tests.

In the last month, three research teams have taken two important tests of general relativity to much higher degrees of confirmation. The first such test is a sophisticated version of Galileo Galilei’s famous drop test. Galileo’s student Vincenzo Viviani reported that in 1590±1 AD,Galileo dropped two spheres of different masses from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa (see image below) and proved that both masses fell at the same rate.

Equivalence Principle Test

All viable theories of gravity predict that objects of different masses, independent of air resistance, will fall at the same approximate rate. General relativity, however, predicts that the rates will be exactly equivalent. Physicists call this the equivalence principle.

Galileo proved the equivalence principle to about 1 part in 100. The best laboratory experiments establish the equivalence principle to about 2 parts in 10 trillion.2 We’ve come a long way since Galileo in terms of establishing the accuracy of the equivalence principle. A similar limit was achieved using lunar laser ranging measurements that showed a lack of differential acceleration between the Moon and Earth toward the Sun.3

On April 25, 2016, the Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), France’s space agency, launched the MICROSCOPE satellite. On board the satellite were two accelerometers (see image below). In one of the accelerometers was a cylinder made of an aluminum-titanium alloy. In the other was a cylinder made of a much denser platinum-rhodium alloy.

As the satellite orbits Earth, the two cylinders are in continuous free fall. Electrodes keep the cylinders centered inside the accelerometers by applying tiny voltages to the cylinders. These voltages were accurately measured to determine if there are any differences between the two applied voltages. After more than 1,500 orbits the MICROSCOPE mission research team found no such differences. In a preprint accepted for publication in Physical Review Letters the research team comprised of forty-four physicists from France, Germany, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom reported that the lack of such differences established the equivalence principle to 1 part in 100 trillion.4 This measure is a factor of 20 times superior to the best previous test.

The MICROSCOPE satellite is scheduled for at least another 900 orbits. By then, the MICROSCOPE mission research team hopes to test the equivalence principle to 1 part in a quadrillion. A proposed Italian satellite would push the test to 1 part in 100 quadrillion. Stanford University physicists have proposed a satellite featuring noise-reducing cryogenics that would yield a test accurate to 1 part in a quintillion.

Is all this testing necessary? Lay readers may wonder, how much more testing of the equivalence principle does general relativity require beyond Galileo’s drop test experiments? While the overall validity of general relativity is affirmed by astronomers and physicists, several of them speculate about tiny adjustments to general relativity, some of which have significant philosophical consequences. Therefore, placing more stringent limits on such possible adjustments has implications for science, philosophy, and theology.

Lorentz Invariance Tests

General relativity also predicts a fundamental symmetry known as Lorentz invariance. Lorentz invariance, named after early twentieth century Dutch physicist Hendrik Lorentz, states that the laws of physics are invariant under a transformation between two coordinate frames moving at constant velocity with respect to one another. To put it simply, it means that physical measurements will not depend on either the speed or the orientation of the laboratory’s reference frame. To put it even more simply, it says that while the universe is not invariant, the laws of physics are.

Two research teams using independent methods have now put the most stringent constraints on possible violations of Lorentz invariance. Three physicists at Carleton College, Minnesota, used superconducting gravimeter measurements to test local Lorentz invariance.5Specifically, they looked for local gravitational acceleration by carefully measuring the position of a superconducting sphere levitated in a magnetic field. (You can watch such an experiment here.) Compared to the previous best gravimeter results, the Carleton College team determined upper limits on possible violations of Lorentz invariance that were more than 10 times smaller.

The second research team comprised of six physicists and astronomers from the University of Bologna, Italy, the Paris Observatory, and the University of California, Los Angeles, analyzed 48 years of data from lunar laser-ranging experiments.6 These experiments involve laser beams from Earth being bounced off mirrors placed on the Moon’s surface by Apollo 11 and 14 astronauts (see figures 3 and 4 below) to accurately measure the Moon’s orbital and rotational motions. This team placed upper limits on possible violations of Lorentz invariance that were 100–1,000 times better than the previous best determinations.

What Do the Tests Imply?

General relativity passed all three tests described here with outstanding success. Physicists have speculated about alternate gravity theories to general relativity, but the three tests establish that all that remains of these alternate theories are the ones that adjust the predictions of general relativity only very, very slightly.

Thus, the predictions of general relativity relevant to establishing that the God of the Bible created our universe of matter, energy, space, and time stand more securely affirmed than ever before. No basis remains for doubting any of the theological conclusions dependent upon the reliability of general relativity.

Original article: Relativity