Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Red Sea Parting "An Explanation"

Study seeks to explain the parting of the Red Sea

The biblical account of the miraculous parting of
the Red Sea has amazed and captivated people for
thousands of years. New research released today
could give a scientific grounding to the story.

The study, published today in the online journal
PLoS ONE, finds that strong, persistent winds could
offer a physical explanation for the event, which was
made eternally famous by Charlton Heston in the
epic film The Ten Commandments.

Lead author Carl Drews, a scientist at the National
Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.,
used computer simulations to recreate what might
have happened that day some 3,000 years ago.

"The simulations match fairly closely with the
account in Exodus," says Drews.

As recorded in Exodus 14, "Moses stretched out his
hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove
the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land."

This allowed the Israelites to escape pursuit by the
Egyptians, who were killed once the water closed up

Drews' simulations found that a strong east wind,
blowing at a constant speed of about 63 mph for 12
hours, could have pushed water back at a bend
where an ancient river is thought to have merged
with a coastal lagoon along the Mediterranean. Such
an event occurred in 1882, when a British Army
general reported a strong easterly wind that pushed
the water away on Lake Menzaleh, on the west side
of the Suez Canal.

With the water pushed back into both waterways, a
land bridge would have opened at the bend, Drews
says, enabling people to walk across exposed mud
flats to safety. As soon as the wind died down, the
waters would have rushed back in.

Drews says it is possible for people to walk in winds
as strong as 63 mph winds, which is partly why he
chose that speed for the simulation.

The research was based on a reconstruction of the
likely locations and depths of Nile delta waterways,
which have shifted considerably over time.

Other previous studies have looked into scientific
explanations for this event. One proposed that a
tsunami may have caused the seas to part. But Drews
says such an event would not have caused the
gradual overnight divide of the waters as described in the Bible.

"People have always been fascinated by this Exodus
story, wondering if it comes from historical facts,"
Drews says. "What this study shows is that the
description of the waters parting indeed has a basis
in physical laws."

Ken Ham, president and CEO of the Creation
Museum, in Petersburg, Ky., needs no scientific
explanation: "The parting of the Red Sea was a
miracle," he wrote in an e-mail. "It was an
extraordinary act of God. Yet, God used a force of
nature — wind — to bring about this miracle. But
there is no need to come up with a naturalistic
explanation of a supernatural event."


the deadliest year

Helicopter crash in Afghanistan kills nine Western troops
The deaths make this the deadliest year for NATO in the nine-year war.

Nine Western service members died Tuesday in a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan, making this the deadliest year for NATO in the nine-year war.

Military officials did not immediately disclose the nationalities of the dead or say precisely where the crash happened. Two other Western troops, an Afghan soldier and an American civilian were injured, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said in a statement.

But an ISAF official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly, said the crash took place in Zabul province, a Taliban stronghold. A provincial spokesman said the chopper went down in the Daichopan district.

Combat deaths in June and July had spiked to the highest levels of the conflict. With Tuesday's crash, according to icasualties.org, 529 members of the international force have been killed this year. The previous high was 2009, when 521 Western troops were killed, according to the website's tally.

The south is the most active battle front in the war, and it is the region where most American troops who arrived as part of the summer's "surge" have been deployed. About 100,000 Americans are in Afghanistan now; they make up two-thirds of the Western force.

The Western military said there were no reports of enemy fire in the area of the crash, which was the deadliest of the year. The incident was under investigation.

Taliban fighters have been unable to shoot down Western helicopters in large numbers, but insurgent fire brought down a Canadian chopper last month in Kandahar province, injuring eight troops. Another helicopter was shot down in June in Helmand province, killing four Western troops.

The summer saw a rash of helicopter crashes, mainly in the south. Another crash in Kandahar province in June killed three Australian servicemen and the U.S. pilot.

In a far-flung country with relatively few passable roads, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's war effort relies heavily on helicopters.
Laura King, Los Angeles Times