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August 23, 2004


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Religion in the News

Christian History Corner: Revisiting the Pagan Olympic Games
New scholarship on the ancient Olympics reminds Christians why Emperor Theodosius outlawed the event so many centuries ago. By Steven Gertz.   

Anti-conversion Reprieve
Sri Lanka Christians cheer high court ruling on controversial bill. By Manpreet Singh.

In crackdown, China shuts Buddhist site and seizes Catholic priests
The two unrelated incidents are the latest examples of what appears to be a government crackdown against some religious. (The New York Times). Also China Detains Eight Priests and a Living Buddha -Groups.

Nigeria: Thousands still displaced three months after religious clashes
Nearly 30,000 people fled from their homes during the May riots in Kano (UN IRIN).

What God Hath Not Joined
Why marriage was designed for male and female. By Edith M. Humphrey.

Police use bible to beat crime
Police in a rural area of Romania are sending criminals to church in an attempt to drive down crime figures. Officers in the Satu Mare region also use the bible to "put the fear of God" into suspects (Daily Times, Pakistan).

'Passion' will be rekindled on DVD
DVD sales are expected to boost Gibson's personal profits above $400 million (The Philadelphia Inquirer).

Faith in video games
Religious game makers seek success without violence (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Tex.).

Cell phone users are finding God
Once merely a useful tool for keeping in touch on the go, the mobile phone is fast finding a new niche as an instrument of spiritual enlightenment (Wired News).

This World Really Is Our Home
We're not just passing through, says theologian Michael Wittmer, author of Heaven Is a Place on Earth.
By Ann Byle.

The Middle East and the West: The Crusades
NPR's Mike Shuster begins a special six-part series on the long and turbulent history of Western involvement in the Middle East with a look at the Christian Crusades (All Things Considered, NPR).

Science in the News

Free Courses this Fall
The Wagner Free Institute of Science is offering free courses this fall in:

Archaeology/Anthropology

Scholars Debate ''The Cave of John the Baptist''
Archaeologists say they found the cave where John baptized many of his followers; Scholars keep a critical yet hopeful eye on the discoveries. See also John the Baptistís cave: speculation & sensation and Bring Me the Stead of John the Baptist?

DNA to reveal source of Dead Sea Scrolls
Authorities are hoping that DNA testing of animal bones discovered in excavations at the Qumran plateau will reveal the origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls (The Jerusalem Post).

Scholars disagree on early inhabitants of Qumran.
Rival groups of scholars excavating this dusty plateau overlooking the Dead Sea are arguing over who lived here in biblical times — ordinary farmers or the Essenes, a monastic sect seen by some as a link between Judaism and early Christianity (Associated Press). See also Archaeologists insist there was a community at Qumran.

Student dig seeks link to King Solomon.
Digs this summer at Megiddo, Israel, did not reveal definitive evidence to link Solomon's Palace to the biblical king, but some nice figurines of horses' heads were found above the stables.

3500-year-old Bronze Age temple discovered in Jordan.
TALL AL-UMAYRI, Jordan: A 3,500 year old temple from the Late Bronze Age has been discovered at Tall al-Umayri just south of Amman. The discovery is particularly exciting because the Late Bronze Age has yielded few structures of any kind in the central hills of Jordan and because it is one of the best preserved buildings and areas of worship that has been found. It contributes to the belief that there were more settled inhabitants in the area at the time than previously thought.

Contrasting Insights of Biblical Giants. BAR Interviews Elie Weisel and Frank Moore Cross.

Ancient Persian fleet surrenders its mysteries.
A team from Greece, Canada and the United States has just completed a second expedition to retrieve artefacts from 300 ships of the Persian King Darius that were wrecked in a storm off the Mt Athos Peninsula, northern Greece, in 492BC or 493BC.

Holograms Help Identify Sham Script
Scientists have developed a new tool for fighting forgers. The hologram-based technique produces a three-dimensional image of a handwriting sample that can be used to compare two John Hancocks and determine if they were both jotted by the same John.

INEEL Develops Computer Tool To Help Save Archaeological Treasures.

Ancient Mask, 'Olympic' Ring Found in Thracian Tomb. SHIPKA, Bulgaria (Reuters)
A Bulgarian archaeologist has unearthed an ancient gold mask and a ring featuring an "Olympic" rower in what he called an unrivalled find in the study of classical antiquity.

Astronomy

How Old Is The Milky Way? Paranal Observatory, Chile (SPX) Aug 18, 2004
Observations by an international team of astronomers with the UVES spectrometer on ESO's Very Large Telescope at the Paranal Observatory (Chile) have thrown new light on the earliest epoch of the Milky Way galaxy.

Sweeping For Unseen Worlds. Moffett Field CA (SPX) Aug 19, 2004
The sharpest image ever taken of a dust disk around another star has revealed structures in the disk which are signs of unseen planets.

Bedrock In Mars' Gusev Crater Hints At Watery Past. Tucson AZ (SPX) Aug 19, 2004
Now that NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit is finally examining bedrock in the "Columbia Hills," it is finding evidence that water thoroughly altered some rocks in Mars' Gusev Crater.

Underneath Ganymede's Ice? Moffett Field CA (SPX) Aug 19, 2004
Scientists have discovered irregular lumps beneath the icy surface of Jupiter's largest moon, Ganymede. These irregular masses may be rock formations, supported by Ganymede's icy shell for billions of years.

A Temperate Venus Revealed. Moffett Field CA (SPX) Aug 19, 2004
In part 1 of this interview with Astrobiology Magazine editor Henry Bortman, planetary scientist David Grinspoon explained how Venus evolved from a wet planet similar to Earth to the scorching hot, dried-out furnace of today. In part 2, Grinspoon discusses the possibility of life on Venus.

Discovery of five irregular moons of Neptune
MATTHEW J. HOLMAN et al.

NASA Mission Returns With A Piece Of The Sun. Pasadena CA (JPL) Aug 20, 2004
In a dramatic ending that marks a beginning in scientific research, NASA's Genesis spacecraft is set to swing by Earth and jettison a sample return capsule filled with particles of the Sun that may ultimately tell us more about the genesis of our solar system.

Cooking On A Comet..? Paris (ESA) Aug 20, 2004
One of the ingenious instruments on board Rosetta is designed to 'smell' the comet for different substances, analysing samples that have been 'cooked' in a set of miniature ovens. ESA's Rosetta will be the first space mission ever to land on a comet.

Biology

Pollen-blocking cream cuts hayfever
The nasal cream captures pollen particles before they trigger an allergic response, markedly reducing hayfever symptoms.

Mouse Model Of Rare Disease Offers Clues To Aging And Cancer Development
Scientists have developed the first mouse model of a rare disease in which people age rapidly and start developing cancers and other diseases associated with the elderly when they are only about 30 years old.

Creation/Evolution

Giant Mutant Ant Colony Found in Australia. Aug. 12, 2004
A huge ant colony measuring 100 kilometers (62 miles) across has been found under the southern Australian city of Melbourne, scientists said Thursday. Suhr said the introduced pest's natural aggression kept numbers under control in its native country, but that the genetic make-up of the ants found in Australia had mutated, allowing them to cooperate to build the supercolony.

IDing ID: Is "Intelligent Design" theory really "Creation Science" version 2.0?
Not exactly, but the parallels are certainly suggestive. See By Chris Mooney.

New Online articles at NCSE
"Flood Geology in the Grand Canyon," "Evolution:  Still Deep in the Heart of Textbooks," and "The Astrobiological Perspective on Life's Origin."

Different codons, same amino acid
Study shows that synonymous codon usage varies in human tissues, perhaps due to evolution.

The structure and evolution of centromeric transition regions within the human genome.
XINWEI SHE et al.

Physics

Fermilab Scientists Present New Physics Results At ICHEP Beijing. Batavia IL (SPX) Aug 19, 2004
Scientists from the Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory are presenting new results from experiments performed at the world's highest-energy particle accelerator during the 32nd International Conference on High Energy Physics in Beijing, China, August 16-22.

Psychology

Weird links with words and colours in the mind
A strange condition which gives people weird sensory associations relies on the brain - meaning all humans may be able to experience it.

New Research Provides The First Solid Evidence That The Study Of Music Promotes Intellectual Development.

Technology

NASA Working On Early Version Of Star-Trek-like Main Ship Computer. Moffett Field CA (SPX) Aug 19, 2004
All that is known about future spaceships will be in their main computers, according to NASA scientists. They busily are creating a set of computer 'tools' that possibly will evolve into a main computer system much like that of the fictional starship Enterprise of television's 'Star Trek' series.

Combat robots wow crowds
As well as entertaining, the Japanese contest which pits robot against robot reflects real technological advances, say experts.