Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Secret Science Club is heading for the South Pole!Prepare for extreme conditions . . . Wed, September 12, 8PM @ the Bell House, $6

The Secret Science Club presents Antarctic explorer Stephen Pekar and
a mind-blowing screening of
Encounters at the End of the World

Wednesday, September 12, 8 pm @ the Bell House, $6

McMurdo Station is home to 1,000 scientists and staff during the Antarctic summer—and its inhabitants are as strange, dreamy, and fascinating as the icy continent itself. Documentary filmmaker Werner Herzog journeyed across a frozen ocean and off the margins of the map to meet biologists searching for sci-fi extremophiles, quantum physicists on the hunt for neutrino particles, glaciologists tracking nation-sized icebergs, and volcanologists exploring the intersection of fire and ice at Mt. Erebus, an active volcano that regularly hurls lava chunks their way.

Scientist and explorer Stephen Pekar gets this cinema party started with a mini-lecture on his own Antarctic research. A veteran of four Antarctic expeditions, Dr. Pekar studies microfossils, ancient sediments, and geochemical data from deep-sea cores to reconstruct past climate changes and gain insight into Earth’s climate future. Please join us for this special lecture and screening of Encounters at the End of the World!

Before & After
--Try our compass-less cocktail of the night, the Terra Incognita
--Groove to sub-zero tunes
--Enter the bipolar trivia contest to score super-cool prizes     
--Stick around for the frosty Q&A

Tickets: Advance tickets are available for purchase here. SOLD OUT!

This icy edition of the Secret Science Club meets Wednesday, September 12 at 8 pm @ the Bell House, 149 7th St. (between 2nd and 3rd avenues) in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Subway: F or G to 4th Ave; R to 9th St. 

Doors open at 7:30 pm. Please bring ID: 21+, $6.

COMING UP: Tues, Sept 25, 8PM @ the Bell House
The Secret Science Club explores the heavyweights of the cosmossupermassive black holeswith Caleb Scharf, astrophysicist and author of the ultra-stellar new book Gravity's Engines. It'll be out of this world . . .

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Science and the Bible on the Earth's Formation


Although we know a great deal about the structure of the Earth we do not know for sure how exactly it was all put together. As a university lecturer in one of the geosciences this problem has intrigued me for over thirty years and I have considered most of the many theories but had to discard them all for their vagueness. I now know there is a more clear and detailed story to tell and the purpose of this article is to share this knowledge..

The hypothesis I propose here is based on the laws of nature but also considers hints from the Bible which I believe gives a true and reliable eyewitness account from the Creator Himself.

Briefly, my hypothesis is that the Earth and the rest of the Solar System is the end product of a supernova of a single and very massive first generation star. Hence to understand how the Earth was formed all we have to do is to logically consider, step by step, the changes that this star underwent before, during and after the supernova.

Although my hypothesis can be judged by its' science only, the fact that it has support from the Bible is important to me because a true understanding of how the Earth was formed and made (Isa.45:18)(1) helps us to evaluate the validity of some of the arguments used by both sides involved in the ongoing creation/evolution debate.

To make it easier to digest, I have split my hypothesis into ten stages arranged in chronological order. The facts used in support of each stage can be readily verified in university level textbooks on astronomy and geology for example references 2 & 3.

Stage 1 The Beginning. (Gen.1:1).

The universe began with the 'Big Bang' when energy was converted into mainly hydrogen gas. The Bible does not disagree that the Universe had a beginning- in fact it was a clergyman Georges Lemaitre who first proposed the idea. This beginning was about 15 billion years ago while the material that was used to build the Earth is thought to be 4.6 billion years old. This means it has taken about ten billion years for some of the primordial hydrogen to be converted into all of the hundred plus elements and the combination of these elements to form rock minerals.

Stage 2 A star called Solar ABC

Some time after the 'Big Bang', untold trillions of first generation stars were formed from hydrogen. We need only consider just one of these stars and call it Solar ABC for reasons that will become clear shortly. The mass of this star was at least ten times that of Sun and it was located exactly where we find our Sun today. So if we could turn back the clock to a time just before the start of the formation of the Solar System we would have seen Solar ABC as a huge glowing red sphere in space about three times the size of the Sun.

Stage 3 The Solar ABC Supernova

Solar ABC went through the expected changes powered by its own gravity. Firstly enormous pressures and temperatures were generated deep within it and as a result some of its hydrogen was fused together via several different processes to form more than half of the chemical elements known to man(4). Hence Solar ABC's first task was to act as a natural chemical factory for the production of about fifty elements including oxygen, carbon, silica and iron.

After these fusion elements were manufactured in great abundance, pressures within Solar ABC continued to rise enormously until the outward acting pressures became critically high. Solar ABC then exploded extremely violently in what is called a supernova. This resulted in a total disintegration of the star and its transformation into a huge, very hot, bright and expanding cloud of gas and dust that eventually stretched many billions of miles in all directions.

Within this extremely hot and vast cloud there were also intense radiations of subatomic particles which collided with the existing atoms of previously formed elements. This allowed atoms of all the rest of the elements to be built up. All the known radioactive isotopes we find on the Earth today were also formed at this stage.

Stage 4 The Triple Star Solar A, Solar B and Solar C

The explosion of Solar ABC propelled every particle at high velocity. A very large proportion of these particles acquired a high enough velocity to enable them to escape into space and be lost forever. But a good proportion of them did not have this velocity and these particles were left behind and went on to form the Solar System.

With the great abundance of fast moving free electrons in the supernova cloud, many of the iron and nickel atoms became tiny magnets after they had cooled down. These magnetized particles became strongly attracted to each other and began to clump together until finally most of the magnetised particles became concentrated in just three gigantic ball magnets billions of miles apart from each other. These magnetic balls had great mass and velocity, and moved in an orbit, so were then able to sweep up all non magnetic material in their path. And so the single star Solar ABC was transformed into a triple star system consisting of three very large bodies which we can call Solar A, Solar B and Solar C all in orbit round the same centre of gravity. Triple star systems are extremely common in our galaxy.

Solar A was the biggest body which was at least a hundred times more massive than Solar B which in turn was very much heavier than Solar C. To an observer Solar B would seem to be in a close orbit around Solar A and Solar C would be in a very far orbit around both Solar A and Solar B but in a plane almost at right angles to the plane that Solar A and Solar B orbited in.

Solar A and Solar B are still in existence today but we do not see them as such because they have since reunited to form our Sun. Solar C is also still in existence. It orbits the Sun but being relatively small and dark and very far away it is barely observable. There is however some scientific evidence for it(5) but there are also legendary accounts of it coming quite close to the Earth at various times in the past. On the Internet it is known as Niburu or Planet X and the planet of the Crossing as its orbit crosses the plane in which the Earth and other planets orbit in. The Bible calls it Wormwood. (Rev.8:11).

Stage 5 The ice cold Planetary Disc

The next stage in the formation of the Solar System was the formation of what is known as the Planetary Disc. This occurred when Solar B could not maintain its orbit round Solar A and spiralled inwards and eventually collided into it with tremendous violence. This resulted in another very hot cloud of gas and dust that again stretched for billions of miles from the now combined Solar AB. This cloud is better known as the nebula from which the Solar System eventually formed..

The nebula had within it much of the particles of rock minerals that Solar ABC had made earlier. It was very irregular in shape to begin with but became spherical and then flattened into a gigantic rotating disc, some twelve billion miles in diameter. The term Planetary Disc may be used for it...

The Disc cooled down quickly and, as it contracted. it also divided itself into a series of concentric rings with each ring having particles of comparable mass. The lightest particles were flung to orbits near the outer boundaries of the Disc while the heaviest particles remained in orbit near the centre of the Disc. It was from this very cold disc of rock minerals, water ice and gas that the Earth and rest of the Solar System was formed as explained next.

Stage 6 The formation of the core, mantle, and foundations of the Earth

The Sun and each of the planets were formed from the gas and dust particles in different parts of Disc. The Sun was formed from material at the centre of the Disc. The Earth was formed from a relatively small portion of the Disc that was in the region now bounded by the orbits of Mars and the Earth.

Our planet began its existence as a small clump of magnetic material near where Mars is today. This clump spiralled inwards in the Disc and attracted other similar magnetic clumps.. As it did so it became heavier with each orbit as it continued to spiral its way inwards through the Disc. Like a snowball rolling downhill, it attracted every particle that it came close enough to. In this way, much, of the material in this region of the Disc was swept up and the Earth grew in size and mass layer by layer to nearly what it is today.

The final layer that was picked up by the almost fully grown Earth was one in which the particles were rich in the minerals of basalt rock. This layer became compacted by gravity. It was then heated by radioactivity until it melted and the resultant lava covered the whole Earth. This eventually solidified to form. a spherical shell of very hard rock which is known today as the lithosphere. The biblical name for the lithosphere is 'foundations of the Earth' (Job 38:4).

Once the Earth became sealed like an egg with a shell of basaltic rock its interior was able to sort itself out by its own gravity. Heavier particles sank downwards and displaced lighter particles upwards to give the Earth its internal layered structure consisting of an inner and outer core, lower and upper mantle, asthenosphere, and the very hard 'foundations' on top.

Stage 7 The global ocean

If all this water in our oceans was evenly spread out, it would form a global ocean some 4000m deep(3). The very cold Planetary Disc contained a vast abundance of small and large fragments of ice as water was one of the first compounds to have been made inside Solar ABC. This ice was gathered up by the growing Earth and became part of its interior for a while where it soon melted. It was this water that enabled the interior of the earth to become sorted (2Peter 3:8) The water eventually was squeezed out upwards and became trapped under the solid lithosphere. Continual heat turned this to superheated steam and the tremendous pressure generated was sufficient to lift up and crack open the lithosphere several times. This allowed the steam to escape violently. After cooling and condensation it fell back as torrential rain. (Job 38:8-11) which formed ponds, then large lakes and finally a global ocean on top of the lithosphere.

Stage 8 The supercontinent Pangaea

The land mass of our planet occupies about a third of the total surface of the Earth and almost all of this is on one side of the Earth only. All of our continents were once joined up in a single supercontinent called Pangaea (meaning all Earth). The Bible agrees with this (Gen.1:10) and even tells us how Pangaea was formed (Ps.24:1-2, Isa.45:5). Pangaea was originally a planetesimal formed from rock minerals in a region of the Disc that contained somewhat lighter particles. For a while this body had an independent orbit but it was attracted by the Earth's gravity and spiralled its way towards the Earth. It eventually 'soft landed' on the global ocean where it broke up and its contents spread out by wave action. It was these contents that eventually became compacted, heated up and cemented in its lower parts to form a C shaped supercontinent called Pangaea.

Stage 9 Origin of life

The theory of evolution does not tell us how life first began. For this the Biblical explanation is all we have and this tells us that all life forms were created miraculously by the Spirit of God. (Ps.104:30)

The fossil record indicates that our planet has supported living organisms of all kinds for a very long period of time. It also tells us that there was not just one creation episode but several. Each generation of life began suddenly and also came to a sudden end after a period of time. In all cases the destruction was by the total submergence under water of the low lying C shaped supercontinent. (2Peter 3:6) Each submergence resulted in giant turbidity currents which brought in and stirred up billions of tons of pre-existing sediments. A new creation came into being on a freshly formed surface. The previous generation to our own ended when the submerging waters froze some 12000 years ago. Our present generation of life began only a few thousand years ago but. Bible scholars have recognized that there were previous generations of life during First Earth Age(7).

Stage 10 From supercontinent to continents

The supercontinent was formed on the wet slippery ocean floor and so it is hardly surprising that it eventually broke up. The prevailing view is that it took some 200 million years for the continents to split and drift away to their present positions. However the Bible tells us that this happened only a few thousand years ago and was completed during the lifetime of one person (Gen.10:25)

Hints about plate tectonics are given in the Bible (Ps.82.5) and the current view is that the plates move about and carry the continents with them acting like conveyor belts. The Bible suggests a very much faster rate of movement of the continents. This can be explained by localized upward bulging of the lithosphere which would allow the continents to slide downhill. Such bulging would be the result of pressure generated by internal heat and is hinted at in the Bible (Deut.32:22)

Concluding remarks

This article has outlined a hypothesis for the formation of the Earth that Is broadly in accordance with the laws of nature and has good biblical support.

The Earth was created in several stages so determining its age is not a simple task as all of the stages took place in God's sense of time rather than man's. Young Earth creationists date the age of the Earth from the start of this generation of life and Old Earth creationists date it from the supernova explosion of Solar ABC.

A much more detailed description of everything in this article is given in my recently published book(6)


1. All quoted biblical verses are taken from The Holy Bible New King James Version Thomas Nelson, Nashville, 1991

2. Woolfson M The Formation of the Solar System Imperial College Press London 2007

3. Duff D Holmes' Principles of Physical Geology Chapman & Hall London 1993

4. Clayton D D Principles of Stellar Evolution and Nucleosynthesis Mc Graw Hill 1968

5. Matese J.J, Whitmire D.P. 'Jovian Mass Solar Companion in the Oort Cloud' ICARIUS April 2010

6. Pimenta L R The Firmament of the sky dome Matador Kibworth Beauchamp England 2012 ISBN 9781780882017

7. There are numerous bible studies on this available on the internet

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Secret Science Club presents Marine Biologist Hans Walters, PLUS a special live-screening from Shark Week, Thursday, August 16, 8PM @ the Bell House, FREE!

Shark researcher Hans Walters of the New York Aquarium discusses his wet-and-wild work tagging and tracking sharks and curates a live-screening of Great White Highway, a documentary debuting on the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week that follows intrepid marine scientists as they pursue the mysterious migrations of great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias).

Before & After
--Sample our toothsome cocktail of the night, the Land Shark
--Sway to fintastic grooves
--Stick around for the salty Q&A
--Win sharky door prizes

This cartilaginous edition of the Secret Science Club meets Thursday, August 16, 8 pm @ the Bell House, 149 7th St. (between 2nd and 3rd avenues) in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Subway: F or G to 4th Ave; R to 9th St

Doors open at 7:30 pm. Please bring ID: 21+. 

No cover. Just bring your smart self!

*Photo courtesy of the New York Times.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ten Secrets to Master Your Organic Chemistry Course

Organic chemistry is probably the most challenging of science courses that you are going to experience in your college career. The sheer volume of information which you have to study is overwhelming, and the failure rate is unusually high. Yet there is no way around this path if you are pursuing a career in the profession of health or science.

Although there are no miraculous solutions to acing this course without the required hard work and dedication, there are a number steps you can take, and methods you can implement to insure that you don't fall behind in organic chemistry. This will make it easier for you to stay on top of the material and ultimately on top of the academic curve.

1- Reading Your Textbook Prior to Lecture
Read your textbook right before lecture. You simply can't afford to arrive to class unprepared. If you hear the principles and mechanisms for the first time during class, you can be overcome as you frantically attempt to break down the material and grasp the basic key points.

Reading through the chapter ahead of time, regardless of whether you don't fully grasp everything, It ensures that you'll be able to have some knowledge of the material mentioned in lecture. After you are exposed to the information for the second time in lecture, your primary focus is shifted to comprehending the concepts which you found originally challenging in your readings.

2- Take Notes During Lecture
No matter if you are recording the lecture, or have a set of printed PowerPoint slides, you still ought to take notes during the session. This can help you stay focused, stop you from tuning out the professor, and may help you identify the little stresses placed on individual ideas or mechanisms. These will likely wind up being the very points tested in your approaching examination

3- Read Your Textbook Once More After Lecture
Now that you have a much better comprehension of the material, it is best to read the book again to make sure that you are comfortable with each topic discussed and mechanism tackled

4- Practice, Practice, Practice
Organic chemistry is not a course that can be soaked up through simple memorization. You should practice the principles, check your understanding of the ideas, and consistently go through each one of the mechanisms. The more familiar you are with each factor, the less the chance that you may be caught off-guard on the exam

5- Do More Than the Assigned Homework Problems
If you stick with just the 5 or 10 given homework problems, you are cutting yourself short. The additional problems located in your book are intended to test the same concepts, with a somewhat unique twist every time. When you practice these added problems you'll be better equipped to resolve unforeseen challenges on your upcoming exam. These kinds of additional questions may even be the very questions that may turn up in your test

6- Do Not Memorize
The worst thing you can do to mess up your organic chemistry capabilities is to just memorize reactions. When you memorize an exact reaction, you are only equipped to answer questions presented in the form memorized, consequently you will be caught off guard when the starting compounds or reagents are somewhat, or completely different from your flashcards. However, if you review the concepts, focusing on how the molecules behave, and the reason why the electrons attack, you will be capable of completing any related mechanism, regardless of how the reacting substances are presented

7- Study Groups
Any time you study by yourself you are restricted by your individual sources of know-how, notes, and study material. Whenever you study with a group you will be capable of assisting the other person with difficult ideas, and process mechanism challenges as partners. If you are weak in a particular matter, your study group will be able to address your concerns. And if you are secure with a subject matter, you will probably still learn it far better whenever you are required to apply it in easy terms to describe to a member of your study group who has trouble understanding this concept

8- Peer Tutoring
A lot of universities have a learning center with peer tutors to assist you with your organic chemistry course. Even though they are students on their own, these tutors have taken, and effectively completed organic chemistry, and will therefore be able to help you with the basic concepts and mechanisms

9- Office Hours
If your professor or TA has office hours, consider this a very skilled, very free tutoring session. Your teacher and TA are quite familiarized, not merely with organic chemistry, but also with the concepts and problem forms that will show up on your examination. They'll be able to assist you to fully grasp the facts by using problems similar to what you will later be tested on

10- Private tutoring
Though the above mentioned tips are extremely effective guidelines not to be dismissed, many students still find themselves having so many doubts with insufficient resources. Study groups are tied to the experience of the students concerned, and peer tutoring or office hour sessions are typically rather crowded.