http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AMagnetosphere_rendition.jpg

Earth’s Force Fields

 

Aurora seen from the International Space Station

Aurora seen from the International Space Station

As a girl, while traveling to our new home in Alaska and then during years living there we often got to see the Northern Lights: the Aurora Borealis.  I knew they were caused by tiny particles from the sun colliding with earth’s magnetic field.  Now I know lots more about these amazing events and the power of God’s protection over us.

For the basics, check out Astronomy For Kids to read up on what’s happening.

On the Alaska Public Lands page, they mention that the Aurorae [plural of Aurora] are highly electrified.  Sometimes they are so strong they knock out electrical equipment or even a whole power grid.  This dose of power isn’t always a bad thing, though.  Transmitters, like radios and telephones (the site doesn’t say if those are landlines or cell), can work by the electricity coming from the Aurora alone!

Artist's rendition of Earth's magnetosphere.

Artist’s rendition of Earth’s magnetosphere. The Aurorae show up where the blue lines come in toward the earth

The basic cause of the Aurorae is the “Solar Wind” coming off of the Sun and running into particles in earth’s magnetic field which push them back away from earth (that page is really cool, check it out!).  As the particles calm down from this collision, they give off the lights that we see.

The zone where the particles collide is known as the Van Allen Radiation Belt. It is pretty complicated stuff, so just follow the link if this is fascinating to you!

Just what is this Solar Wind and why is it important?  Most of the Solar Wind is made of tiny electricity-conducting particles [plasma ions] blasting away from the sun.  These particles would really mess up our electronics if they were able to get straight through to the surface.

But there is another piece to the Solar Wind puzzle: radiation.  Some of the stuff that the sun puts out along with all that plasma is a form of UV radiation.  If you’ve ever spent time in the sunshine without sunscreen, you know what UV does to you right away even under our protective shield. Imagine what all this would do to astronauts outside!

A war shieldFrom technology review: “On Earth, humans are protected by the atmosphere, the mass of the Earth itself and the Earth’s magnetic field. In low earth orbit, astronauts loose the protection of the atmosphere and radiation levels are consequently higher by two orders of magnitude.

In deep space, astronauts loose the protecting effect of the Earth’s mass and its magnetic field, raising levels a further five times and beyond the acceptable limits that humans can withstand”

Long term exposure to radiation is very dangerous to living beings.  The radiation ions get right down into our cells and can cause all kinds of serious damage.  You’ve heard of melanomas?  That’s one kind of damage that UV radiation can cause.  Our atmosphere with its ozone layer protects us from much of that kind of radiation.  If we didn’t have a strong shield protecting us, life would have been wiped out by cancers and such long ago!

English: Example of Heliosheath from Hubble Te...

Example of Heliosheath from Hubble Telescope image of Orion Nebula.

Did you know that it is also a very good thing that the sun puts out all that radiation and plasma in the first place?  Turns out that Solar Wind is a force field of its own called a Heliosheath to protect us.

The rest of the universe is filled with something called High-Energy Cosmic Rays.  Pierre Auger Observatory has an interesting page on these.  We can’t tell straight out what makes all this powerful stuff.  Our best guess is that it comes from exploding stars, but they may be shot out from black holes or something completely unknown.

Since people have never traveled outside of our solar system, we can only guess what would happen if the sun wasn’t protecting us.  Here’s a bit of what NASA has to say about Cosmic Rays:

Cosmic rays are different—and worse….  Unlike solar protons, which are relatively easy to stop with materials such as aluminum or plastic, cosmic rays cannot be completely stopped by any known shielding technology.

Even inside their ships, astronauts are exposed to a slow drizzle of cosmic rays coming right through the hull. The particles penetrate flesh, damaging tissue at the microscopic level. One possible side-effect is broken DNA, which can, over the course of time, cause cancer, cataracts and other maladies.

Thank you, God for protecting us from these things that would have killed us long ago!  Thank you even more for providing a shelter of protection from the judgment that you are sending on sin!

English: Castle in Olsztyn, PolandTruly my soul waits upon God: from him comes my salvation.   He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.
God has spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongs unto God.
Also unto you, O Lord, belongs mercy: for you give to every man according to his work.  Psalm 62:1,2,11,12

Did you know the moon passes through the “tail” of our magnetic field every month and picks up quite an electrical charge?  Fascinating stuff!

There is debate among scientists whether our magnetic field has allowed earth to hold onto its atmosphere better.  We seem to be losing atmosphere at the same rate as Venus which doesn’t have a strong magnetic force.  Seems to me this is just another sign that the earth with its water and thick atmosphere can’t be as old as they need it to be for abiogenesis to have time to work.

Kipling's Just So Stories Flickr

How To Think: Kipling’s Just So Stories

Just So Stories

Just So Stories (Photo credit: @notnixon)

Years ago my parents got a book on cultural literacy for us to study. We didn’t have to take tests, but Dad delighted in reading the bits that told how woefully ignorant people were without knowledge of certain literature and historical events. How would we know what someone was talking about if we didn’t know the context of the phrases and keywords they used? So, we learned just enough Shakespeare, Lord of the Flies, and many others to be well-educated whether we liked it or not.

Original woodcut illustration for The Just So ...

‘The crab that played with the sea’ by Rudyard Kipling

One such cultural reference I often run into while reading Creationist articles is Rudyard Kipling’s “Just So Stories.”

You can read the whole book with Kipling’s original illustrations HERE. Many of the stories deal with how animals got to be the way they are. You will quickly notice that the expected vocabulary of an upper class child in 1902 was far greater than today’s!

Why are we so fond of mentioning an odd set of fantasy stories from 100 years ago? Because the kind of reasoning that Kipling used to “explain” animals’ appearance and behavior happens all the time. Except, nowadays, the scientists expect us to believe their inventions are true history.

Pakicetus inachus, a whale ancestor from the E...

Pakicetus inachus, a whale ancestor from the Early Eocene of Pakistan, after Nummelai et al., (2006), pencil drawing, digital coloring (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A prime example of this is the Evolutionary account of the development of whales.  First, have a look at what Berkeley has to say about how they believe whales came into existence.  You will notice right away that they don’t dare claim any other animal as the “direct ancestor” of the whales. In fact, when you examine their lovely opening diagram, none of the “direct ancestor” connections are filled in; they are all lines where something is assumed to have existed.

Hippo

Oh, wait! We meant THIS is the real ancestor of the whale

Even some of the skeletons shown, like Pakicetus, aren’t at all what Berkeley makes them out to be. Berkeley knows quite well that all we actually have of Pakicetus is its skull, but do you find that out on the whale evolution page? Hardly. If they were honest with the facts, people would laugh at them.

Creation Ministries International has taken on another of the supposed transitional forms leading up to the whale which Berkeley mentions. Their article, Rodhocetus and other stories of whale evolution, isn’t too long and has a great drawing showing how much guesswork went into the artist’s version. They also discuss the different stories Evolutionary biologists have come up with to get from land mammals to whales.

As you can imagine, we Creationists enjoy writing about whales. In fact, the Institute for Creation Research even mentions “just so” stories in their main article on Scientific Roadblocks to Whale Evolution.

Here are more articles talking about the impossible puzzle God set for us when He created whales:

ICR: Ways That Whales Display Their Creator

Answers in Genesis: Another Whale of a Tale: Creationists Without a “Whimper”?

AiG’s long, detailed article comparing the story of whale evolution to the story of truck evolution: Walking Whales, Nested Hierarchies, and Chimeras: Do They Exist?

And some articles talking about “Just So” stories in Evolution:

A Just-So Story for Every Occasion at Evolution News and Views

“Just So” Stories of Evolution by Creation Moments (you can listen or read the transcript)

Proposed evolution scenarios are just-so stories (a discussion of statements by Talk.Origins) at CreationWiki. The blue boxes are the original statements and the white are the Creationist responses.

And God created great whales, and every living creature that moves, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:21 

People knew God, but they did not honor him as God, and they did not thank him. Their ideas were all useless. There was not one good thought left in their foolish minds. They said they were wise, but they became fools. Instead of honoring the divine greatness of God, who lives forever, they traded it for the worship of things made to look like humans, birds, animals, and snakes. Romans 1:21-23 Easy-to-read Version

Dire Dragons book cover

Book Review: Dire Dragons

Dire Dragons book cover

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This review is being pulled from the archives because I’m excited to share the book has a new sibling. Somehow I’m going to get my hands on Untold Secrets of Planet Earth: Fossils, ’cause if it’s anything like as good as the first book, I want it!

I told you yesterday I picked this book up straight from Creation Today (who also gave me a great fellow-helper discount, so when you buy your copy, please get it from them so they can recoup their losses.) When we were all settled into our rooms that evening I finally had a chance to look it over. It took quite a while before I was finished!

The author, Vance Nelson, is a bona-fide fact-checker guy. I don’t know if you are aware of the basic personality gifts the Holy Spirit has handed out to everyone, but I can usually spot a “teacher type” within a few seconds. This guy oozes carefulness and thoroughness, yet I didn’t find his writing dull or dry (a pitfall of a lot of us teachers).

Here’s the premise of the book:

  • Examine a historical artwork that could be showing a dinosaur.
  • Double check to be sure it’s not a forgery
  • Locate a known dinosaur that looks similar
  • Have an artist do a rough position sketch from the artifact
  • Have another artist who’s never heard of the artifact do a CG model of the dinosaur in that position for comparison

The book is gorgeous. It’s not published by Master Books, but a brand new group called Untold Secrets of Planet Earth. They’ve done just as good a job of presentation as Master does, even including a book mark ribbon. If you go to Vance Nelson’s WEBSITE, you can have a look at a number of spreads from inside to see for yourself.

After explaining his technique for ensuring unbiased dino portrayals, Nelson goes back to the roots of paleontology. He shows documents of the first scientific studies which freely use the word “dragon” to describe finds in the mid-1800s.

Then he does something I found absolutely brilliant. He completely dismantles the modern notion that ancient people knew about dragons because they were paleontologists, too. There are some people who have been forced to recognize the ancients knew about dinosaurs, but they want to cling to the “dinos died out millions of years ago” line, too. Adrienne Rogers has written a couple of  books to keep such people’s brains from tearing apart: The First Fossil Hunters and Fossil Legends of the First Americans.

Turns out you have to be pretty devoted to the consensus storyline to fall for those ideas. They just don’t fit the facts. My favorite point Vance Nelson makes on this debate is the examples of early dinosaur reconstructions from the 1850s. Here’s what modern models show with our study of muscle connections and stuff:

Megalosaurus ('Great Lizard', from Greek, μεγα...

Megalosaurus (‘Great Lizard’, from Greek, μεγαλο-/megalo– meaning ‘big’, ‘tall’ or ‘great’ and σαυρος/sauros meaning ‘lizard’) is a genus of large meat-eating theropod dinosaurs of the Jurassic Period of what is now southern England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s how they showed them in the 1850s:

Reconstruction of Megalosaurus and Pterodactyl...

Reconstruction of Megalosaurus and Pterodactylus by Samuel Griswold Goodrich from Illustrated Natural History of the Animal Kingdom (New York: Derby & Jackson, 1859). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nuff said!

Then, the rest of the book is filled with examples of authentic artwork from around the world. Everything is arranged by country with a beautiful map spread before starting in. Nelson usually opens with some info on how he found out about the site, had trouble getting there, or just the history of the artwork. By the time you actually see the comparison between art and dino, the tension has already built up, so you really want to know how the two compare.

A few of the art pieces I recognized from other creation sites, but, as he points out, most of the examples he uses are new to the dino/dragon debate. You will not be disappointed.

The last thing I’ll mention is that I learned about a lot of dinosaurs I didn’t know in this book. He also shows several baby dinos which I’d never seen before except in Land Before Time. It seems the artists on that film were fairly accurate. 🙂

It’s not a cheap book, but one every family with at least one dino or art lover in it should save up for!

And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen. Psalm 72:19 

Kudos to Nelson’s graphic designer, Jeff Chiasson. His work makes this book a pleasure to look through even before the information starts to flow!

NASA-Galaxy Cluster Aardvark at a zoo, Wikicommons

Aardvarks: Unique, Unchanging, Cool

Aardvark

Aardvark (Photo credit: Marie Hale)

Did you know the aardvark is a Living Fossil? Not only do they show up low in the fossil record for a land animal, they haven’t changed much since then.

Are we surprised?

You hear about aardvarks a little more than echidnas (outside of Australia) perhaps because their name works so well in dictionary searches, but do you know very much about them?

We’ve found enough fossils to know aardvarks used to come in more varieties than we see today and lived in a much wider area (fossils have been found in Africa, Europe and Asia). It’s a good thing for Africa’s ecology that some survived to repopulate it.

English: Aardvark (Orycteropus afer) range

Aardvark range

Aardvarks are known for two things: their taste for ants and termites and their digging skills. It’s said they can smell a lion coming and dig a hole big enough to protect their up to 5 ft [150 cm], 150 lb [68 kg]  body by the time it gets there. That’s some fast and powerful digging!

Aardvark dens can be up to 30 ft [9 m] long with the largest having several round rooms and multiple entrances. Their ears are designed to fold back to stay clean and out of the way as they climb inside. They spend the hot day curled up inside and head out to search for food in the evening.

But most aardvarks travel for days searching for food, so they’ll dig a quick burrow wherever they end up and settle in for a night or two.  When they move on, other creatures move in. This is one of the main reasons they are considered important to the ecology of Africa.

Aardvark and juvenile. Deutsch: Erdferkel mit ...

That pig-like snout is extra interesting. It has lots of long hairs to help keep out dust plus flaps of skin to cover them during furious digging. An aardvark’s eyes don’t work too well, but their nose sure does. They walk in a zigzag up to 120ft [36m] sniffing for moving ants or nests. When they find a nest and start digging, they close the flaps to keep bugs from crawling in. Although, one website says they just snuffle any insects that make it up there for dessert. Eeew!

Usually, aardvarks collect their lunch with their tongue. It’s over a foot [30 cm] long and covered with gooey saliva. When the ants or termites try to escape through the hole in their nest, they get gobbled by the 1,000. Some aardvarks have been known to eat over 50,000 bugs in a day.

Aardvarks can break open a cemented termite nest better than a man with a pickax could do it. But, they only eat termites when there aren’t enough ants. During the rainy season, the termites are safe, but the ants have much to fear.

When things dry out, another resident of central Africa gets some vital help, the aardvark cucumber. This unusual plant grows its fruit underground where it would be hard to find for most animals, but that’s no problem for the aardvark! After eating the pulp and seeds whole, another habit of this animal kicks in. They are neat and clean and make sure their stinky gets covered up well. It’s like they were programmed to be the plant’s gardeners!

An aardvark mom gives birth to a roughly 4 lb [2 kg] baby after about 8 months of waiting. The little one stays with its mother for 6 months (if it’s a boy) to 2 years. Girls stay with their mom until a new baby comes along; then, it’s off to the solitary life of the typical aardvark.

Aardvark’s are specially designed to fit in well where they live. They are a little piece in the giant web of life God planned for filling the whole world. Let’s praise and honor the One smart and powerful enough to create them and set them in place!

Lord, all living things depend on you.
    You give them food at the right time.
You give it, and they eat it.
    They are filled with good food from your open hands. Psalm 104:27,28 Easy-to-read Version

Just wait til you see the quotes I’ve collected, too!

Besides the websites already linked, the zoo keepers journal has lots more information about aardvarks

open Bible

Science in the Bible: Earthquakes

 

If you pay attention to what’s going on as you read the Bible you will catch on pretty quickly that the Holy Land is located in an earthquake zone. Sometimes earthquakes are even major players in the action of Bible events.

I’m going to send you to a video with Dr. Steve Austin in a minute, but let’s see some of the times where earthquakes had a part in events recorded in the Bible:

“And the Lord began to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. He caused fire and burning sulfur to fall from the sky. He destroyed the whole valley—all the cities, the people living in the cities, and all the plants in the valley.” Genesis 19:24,25

Although an earthquake isn’t mentioned, how did God get the volcanic stuff to come out? Volcanoes and earthquakes are bosom buddies.

JSC the battle of Jericho

So then the priests blew the trumpets. When the people heard the trumpets, they began shouting. The walls fell down, and the people ran up into the city. So the Israelites defeated that city. Joshua 6:20

Again, the earthquake isn’t mentioned, but God doesn’t do magic; there was some physical cause for the walls to drop.

And Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet, and his armor bearer after him: and they fell before Jonathan; and his armor bearer slew after him. And that first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armor bearer made, was about twenty men, within as it were an half acre of land, which a yoke of oxen might plow. And there was trembling in the host, in the field, and among all the people: the garrison, and the spoilers, they also trembled, and the earth quaked: so it was a very great trembling.  I Samuel 14:14,15

No explanation needed here!

Suddenly there was an earthquake so strong that it shook the foundation of the jail. All the doors of the jail opened, and the chains on all the prisoners fell off. Acts 16:26

This wasn’t in Israel, but shows God controls events anywhere.

Every once in a while God uses His natural world to accomplish His plan for history. He has more subtle ways of doing this, but when he uses big things like meteorites (Joshua 10:11) and earthquakes, people pay attention! They also have a much harder time hiding the evidence. 😀

One other thought that came to me while watching Dr. Austin: just as God has positioned the world so we can study space, so He prepared the way for us to study these earthquakes. How many lakes in the world are lifeless, so the sediments settle undisturbed for millennia? There are a few, but it is cool to know one of them is perfectly located to preserve a record of God’s truthfulness.

Our God is great, with the most mind-boggling foresight imaginable!

The video starts just a tad dry through the first part of the talk, but after the break it is WAY COOL.

The captain of the guard and those with him, when they saw the earthquake and everything else that was happening, were scared to death. They said, “This has to be the Son of God!” Matthew 27:54 The Message

I was alerted to this video by Creation Sensation, you can follow them for yourself to keep up with lots more.

Dr. Austin’s findings have been available at the Institute for Creation Research for some time, which is where I first read about them.

PS I’d really like to ask him just how certain that AD 33 crucifixion date is. It could settle a debate that goes back to the AD 300s!

Review: Transformed by the Evidence

Click to visit product page

Edited by Doug Sharp, B.S. and Jerry Bergman Ph.D. Published by Leafcutter Press

A year ago I told you about one of the most delightful creation books I’d ever read (after the one on Mount St. Helens). Persuaded by the Evidence is a book it would be wonderful for every family with older kids to have in their home library.

I was excited to hear the editors had just published a second book of testimonies and I could even get a review copy straight from them! 🙂

As in Persuaded, Transformed by the Evidence is a collection of stories by over 20 people somehow connected with the Creation movement. Some of the authors get rather eye-crossing with their science speak. A few turn their section into a display of the scientific evidence rather than personal experience. Plus, the book wasn’t published by Master Books and could have used a bit more editing in spots.

But, none of these dampen the impact of the accounts of people who have found Jesus as their Savior and had their lives turned upside down by recognizing God as Creator.

Several of the writers were superb in their ability to express what their lives were like before and after finding their Creator, drawing us into the process. A couple weeks after finishing the book, one lady’s transformation (they picked the right title) is still incredible to me. A missionary kid’s testimony of his parents warning him to stay away from science completely is a wake up call for us parents.

I was especially pleased by those who had gone some distance down the path towards destruction. None of them did any glorying in their sin. Usually, you were left guessing just what was so awful about their behavior. The focus was always on God and His power.

There is one account where the author is serving a life sentence for what he did. Nothing graphic, but the barest of facts are sad enough. It will be important for my kids to understand just how far evolutionary, godless thinking can take a person when they hit their teens, but I’m not going to hand them this book before then.

Many of the stories in both books would make great family reading. Dad or Mom could read through them first to find appropriate ones for their family. This would naturally lead to questions and opportunities to discuss what happened in each life and the kinds of worldview issues our kids need preparation for.

Some of the stories are just awesome reminders of the power God has to draw people to Himself.

There were several authors whose names I’d run into online but didn’t know anything about until now. The testimony of the guy who started (Grand) Canyon Ministries, Tom Vail, is amazing. I’d met Karl Priest online a while back and now know a lot more about him. I’d heard of Dr. Jean Lightner a tiny bit through Answers in Genesis and Creation Today. Now I wish I had a couple hours with her to ask questions about chromosomes and homeschooling!

If I were just building my creation library, this would be in the 2nd set of books I’d get. Like Persuaded, it is a book about people. People Jesus interacts with and draws to Himself using His natural world as a major tool.

As mentioned, I received a free review copy of Transformed by the Evidence from the editor/author. He didn’t tell me what to say, just to let you all know what I thought about it. Thanks, Dr. Bergman!

To get your own copy, check out the Revolution Against Evolution, which is run by the other editor, Doug Sharp. You can even get it cheaper as a set of both books. Or, find it at any number of places, except Christian Book Distributors- yet.

Folded Rock Layers-Zion Nation Park, Wikimedia Marsh Blooms

Do Rock Layers Equal Time Charts? Part 2 Experiments

Continued from Part 1:

Today’s reading:

“Geologists studied the rates of processes they could observe first hand, such as filling of lakes and ponds by sediment, to estimate the time it took to deposit sedimentary rock layers. They quickly realized that millions of years were necessary to accumulate the rock layers we see today. As the amount of evidence grew, scientists were able to push the age of the Earth farther and farther back in time.” US Geological Survey National Park Service

And 3 minute video:

These scientists were doing “real” science, working with experiments we can still do today.

So, I guess we have to go along with their “slow, boring ages” and throw out the Bible. Or, do we?

Can you think of something they forgot to include when thinking of ways to get sediment to collect in layers? How about an enormous, world-wide, watery Catastrophe!

What would the water have been like during Noah’s Flood? Still and quiet like a tranquil lake today? Or, perhaps like a small glass of muddy water? Hardly. It would have been moving around like crazy. We call this movement:

Water currents

There’s a scientist named Guy Berthault who decided to see for himself what happens to the bits of mud, sand, and rocks when you put them into flowing water. Here’s one of his videos (30 seconds):

And a sample of a large scale experiment showing the different layers after the water drained away (1 minute):

There’s no talking on these videos because Berthault speaks French, so we get a taste of what non-English speakers get every day. To find out more about his experiments and discoveries, check out Sedimentology.fr, which is all in English! On the left, click on “Experiments” and “Experiments (cont’d)” to read all about the videos and how they did them.

One of the first experiments Berthault did even took the same idea the Uniformitarians expect. He poured the sedimentary bits into still water:

You can do this for yourself with a Sand Art picture any time you like!

It will take a couple more minutes to read, but have a look at the sand layers that formed when a ship covered a beach with a mixture of sand and muddy water. They know exactly how long it took for the hose to pour all that out: less than one hour.

Do these experiments help you see slow, boring years as you examine rocks?

It all comes back to what you expect and want to see.

More coming up!

Ps 24:1  « A Psalm of David. » The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.