Archive for June 7th, 2011

Ban the Bible

June 7, 2011

From Jihadwatch and Assyrian International News agency. In Pakistan the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party is trying to get the Bible banned because of its blasphemous and pornographic content.

Adam and Eve sans fig leaves, Lot getting drunk, Jesus stopping a stoning . . . This is all too much for Muslims represented in Pakistan’s parliament by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party. They view Bible stories such as these to be “pornographic” slurs against the biblical figures whom they claim as their holy prophets. They are now demanding that the country ban the Bible because of such “blasphemy” and exact a “punishment.” There seems no limit to what could be considered an offense against Islam under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws.

At a press conference on May 30 in Lahore, party leader Maulana Abdul Rauf Farooqi informally petitioned the Supreme Court, complaining that the Bible includes stories about some of the biblical prophets that include “a variety of moral crimes, which undermine the sanctity of the holy figures.” A newspaper reports: “Farooqi cited a number of [supposedly pornographic] scriptures from the Bible, saying such ‘insertions’ strongly offend the Muslims, who hold all prophets and holy books in high esteem, as part of religious belief and never even think of committing any blasphemy against them.”

The verses in question are:

Genesis 19:33–36, 29: 23, 32–35, 38:18

Exodus 32:2–6

1 Kings 13:2–29

2 Samuel 11:2–27, 13:1–22

Matthew 1:13, 16:23, 26:14–47

They have a point. Many times the prophets and  apostles in the Bible are not presented in a very good light. This is because the Bible presents these people the way they were, sins and warts and all. God makes use of some very imperfect people to accomplish His will.

In the Koran, by contrast, the various prophets, Abraham, Moses, Jesus are presented as ideal Moslems, reciting the same message as Mohammed. There is little sense of any individual personality for any of them. Some of the best parts of the Bible are when the prophet, etc must confront his own weaknesses and overcome them. David and Bathsheba, Jacob and his poor treatment of Esau, Peter’s denial of Jesus, etc. Religion and theology aside, this is one of the things that makes the Koran far inferior, in the literary sense, to the Bible.

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Anti-matter

June 7, 2011

Anti-matter is sort of the opposite of regular matter we see  and interact with, except that the particles that make it up are opposite in charge. An anti-electron or positron is positive instead of negative and an anti-proton is negative instead of positive. Neutral particles such as a neutron also have an anti-particle with opposite properties such as baryon number. It i possible to combine anti-protons and anti-neutrons to form the nuclei of anti-atoms and even to get positrons to orbit around these nuclei, forming anti-atoms. Physicists have managed to create anti-hydrogen, but no anti-matter can exist for very long since it is destroyed on contact with matter.

At CERN in Geneva, scientists have managed to capture anti-hydrogen anti-atoms for an incredible 16 minutes. This may not seem very long, but on the scale of atoms and particles, this is an eternity.

“We’ve trapped antihydrogen atoms for as long as 1,000 seconds, which is forever” in the world of high-energy particle physics, said Joel Fajans, a University of California, Berkeley professor of physics who is a faculty scientist at California’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a member of the ALPHA (Antihydrogen Laser Physics Apparatus) experiment at CERN.

Trapping antimatter is difficult, because when it comes into contact with matter, the two annihilate each other. So a container for antimatter can’t be made of regular matter, but is usually formed with magnetic fields.

In the ALPHA project, the researchers captured antihydrogen by mixing antiprotons with positrons — antielectrons — in a vacuum chamber, where they combine into antihydrogen atoms.

The whole process occurred within a magnetic “bottle” that takes advantage of the magnetic properties of the antiatoms to keep them contained. An actual bottle, made of ordinary matter, would not be able to hold antimatter because when the two types of matter meet they annihilate.

After the researchers had trapped antimatter in the magnetic bottle, they could then detect the trapped antiatoms by turning off the magnetic field and allowing the particles to annihiliate with normal matter, which creates a flash of light.

The team has now managed to capture 112 antiatoms in this new trap for times ranging from one-fifth of a second to 1,000 seconds, or 16 minutes and 40 seconds. (To date, since the beginning of the project, Fajans and his colleagues have trapped 309 antihydrogen atoms in various traps.)

And the researchers plan to improve on that, with the “hope that by 2012 we will have a new trap with laser access to allow spectroscopic experiments on the antiatoms,” Fajans said in a statement. Those experiments would give researchers more information on the antimatter’s properties.

In that way, it could help to answer a question that has long plagued physicists: Why is there only ordinary matter in our universe? Scientists think antimatter and matter should have been produced in equal amounts during the Big Bang that created the universe 13.6 billion years ago.

Maybe an anti-matter drive, like in Star Trek is just around the corner.

Oh, and see here for the coolest little particles in nature.


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