In a great convergence of old and new, Google and the Israel Antiquities Authority are teaming up to digitize the millennia-old Dead Sea Scrolls.
The scrolls are the oldest known surviving biblical texts, created between 150 BC and 79 AD. They are written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek and include nearly every book of the Old Testament (except the Book of Esther), and several other religious texts.
The scrolls have been tightly guarded because of their delicate nature. Only two scholars are allowed to study the scrolls at a time, which are held in a room where temperature, light, and humidity are all carefully controlled. Public access to the writings will change how they are studied, Rob Enderle told Computer World:
“This is information few have ever seen and a piece of our oldest written history,” said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group. “What makes this epic is that it could be important for generations of religious scholars. This is a project that could have an impact on thousands of years in the future. There are few projects that have that kind of life expectancy.”
Goodnight moon, goodnight room. Goodnight frogger, goodnight super-analytical blogger.
Chad Orzel of the physics blog Uncertain Principles has had plenty of time to contemplate the beloved children’s book Goodnight Moon in the course of bedtime readings with his toddler. And he got to wondering, just how long does it take the book’s bunny protagonist to say goodnight to all the objects in the room? And could a physics blogger figure it out from eyeballing the moon’s rise through the sky during the course of the story?
Happily, yes. Go read the full post for the math of the moon’s passage through the sky; we’ll skip to the results and tell you that Orzel puts the figure at about 6 minutes. But there’s a hitch: The clocks shown in various pictures of the bunny’s room instead show that one hour and 10 minutes have elapsed. There are only two possible explanations, Orzel says:
These two methods clearly do not agree with one another, which means one of two things: either I’m terribly over-analyzing the content of the illustrations of a beloved children’s book, or the bunny’s bedroom is moving at extremely high velocity relative to the earth, so that relativistic time dilation makes the six-minute rise of the moon appear to take an hour and ten minutes.
The Loom: Goodnight Moon Shot [Tattoo]
Bad Astronomy: The Moon Is Shrinking!
80beats: Study: There’s Water on the Lunar Surface, but Inside It’s Bone Dry
80beats: Solar Sleuthing Suggests When Odysseus Got Home: April 16, 1178 B.C.
Discoblog: Astronomers Identify the Mystery Meteor That Inspired Walt Whitman
It’s not often that an English professor co-authors an article in Sky and Telescope, but it’s not everyday that astronomers set out to uncover a poet’s muse. Researchers believe they have found the astronomical inspiration for the “strange huge meteor procession” in the poem “Year of Meteors. (1859-60.)” published in Walt Whitman‘s Leaves of Grass.
The investigators have determined that Whitman was waxing poetic about a rare event called an Earth-grazing meteor procession. An Earth-grazing meteor never hits our planet; as its name implies, it just visits, slicing through our atmosphere on its path. On this voyage, pieces of the meteor crumble off and head generally in the same direction (the “procession”), burning as they go and making a show to awe and inspire.