Posted on 06/13/2009 by lpetrich
Four hundred years ago at the University of Padua in Italy, a professor of mathematics named Galileo Galilei learned of a remarkable invention. Dutch lensmaker Hans Lippershey had taken some lenses and created a device with them that makes distant objects look nearer, what we now call a telescope. Galileo decided to make one for himself, designing improved models and showing an 8x one to city officials of Venice. They were impressed enough to give him a big raise. He got up to 20x magnification, and in November that year, he looked at the Moon with it.
Near the dividing line between the light and dark areas was some light and dark spots that came and went as that dividing line moved. After observing the Moon for several days, Galileo concluded that he was seeing mountains and he estimated their heights from their illumination and shadowing. There went the old doctrine of heavenly perfection and spotlessness, with the Moon being only a little bit contaminated.
On January 7 the next year, he turned his telescope toward Jupiter and he saw three small “stars” in a line with it. He observed that planet for the next several days, watching them move and discovering a fourth one a week later. He concluded that they move around Jupiter the way that the Moon moves around the Earth.
He also discovered that Venus shows a full set of Moon-like phases, that Saturn has two mysterious objects near it, that the Sun has spots, and that the Milky Way is composed of an enormous quantity of faint stars.
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Posted on 06/05/2009 by OJ
A few years ago, Dutch creationist Johan Huibers showed off a model of Noah’s Ark that was about half-size in each dimension — and that was built on a steel barge. The size of his was 150*30*20 cubits, as opposed to the original’s 300*50*30 cubits (length * width * height). It was even complete with life-size models of giraffes, elephants, lions, crocodiles, zebras, bison and other animals.
That’s the closest that anyone has ever come to re-enacting the Noah’s Ark voyage, as far as I know. It is curious that creationists have been reluctant to try, when one thinks of all the other re-enactments of famous voyages:
- St. Brendan, 530 (if historical): Tim Severin in 1976:
- Leif Ericsson, 1000: a 1000th-anniversary re-enactment by Gunnar Marel Eggertsson with his ship Islendingur (“Icelander”) in 2000:
- Zheng He’s Treasure Fleets, 1405-1433: 2003: Rex Warner aboard a motor sailer traveling China – Vietnam – Singapore – Malaysia – Indonesia – Sri Lanka – Maldives – Oman:
- Christopher Columbus, 1492: a 500th-anniversary re-enactment in 1992 with replicas of all three of his ships (the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria):
- Ferdinand Magellan’s attempted circumnavigation, 1519: 2004:
- “The Pilgrims” aboard the Mayflower, 1620: 1957:
- Captain James Cook, 1768: 2002:
- Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, 1804: a 200th-anniversary one in 2004 going up the Missouri River:
- Charles Darwin aboard the Beagle, 1831: a planned re-enactment:
The Wikipedia article Ship replica has a list of notable ship replicas, including some of those that I’ve mentioned here. Likewise, Replica Ships Worldwide has a big list, including some ancient Greek triremes (~500 BCE).
However, it has been hard to find a re-enactment of another interesting voyage, that by Pytheas around 325 BCE from Massilia (Marseilles, France) to northwestern Europe. Or even some possible Mycenaean Greek voyages from Greece to the Baltic Sea in a quest for amber around 1200 BCE. Homer’s Odyssey may even contain a memory of Scandinavia, a land on the way there, as the land of the Laestrygonians, with its long, rocky fjord and long daytime.
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Posted on 06/04/2009 by OJ
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