Sunday, April 23, 2006

Journal of Paleolimnology

Venkat's Blog - started late though ;)
Science Tells How Jesus Walked on Water?

The Bible says that Jesus walked on water, but a professor of oceanography at Florida State University in Tallahassee has developed a controversial theory: He claims Christ was actually walking on a floating piece of ice.

The sixth chapter of the Gospel of John tells the story familiar to Christians: When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them: "It is I, do not be afraid." (John 6:16-20)

Reuters reports that FSU professor Doron Nof credits this miraculous act to an unusual combination of water and atmospheric conditions in what is now northern Israel that could have led to ice formation on the Sea of Galilee. Using statistical models to examine the dynamics of the Sea of Galilee (now known as Lake Kinneret) and records of surface temperatures of the Mediterranean Sea, Nof determined there was a period of cooler temperatures in the area between 1,500 and 2,600 years ago. He says this could have included the time in which Jesus lived.

Had the temperature dropped below freezing, it could have created ice to form in the freshwater lake that was then called the Sea of Galilee. And that ice would have been thick enough to support the weight of a man. What's more, it might have been impossible for distant observers--especially in the dark as the Gospel of John reports--to see that it was actually ice surrounded by water and not just water.

Nof calls this a "possible explanation" of how Jesus walked on water. "If you ask me if I believe someone walked on water, no, I don't," Nof told Reuters. "Maybe somebody walked on the ice, I don't know. I believe that something natural was there that explains it. We leave to others the question of whether or not our research explains the biblical account."

Nof acknowledges he has received hate mail for espousing this theory.

The study findings were published in the Journal of Paleolimnology.

The Coolest 4-letter word :-)

Venkat's Blog - started late though ;)

A Very Cool 4-Letter Word

The coolest four-letter word is "dude."

That's the proclamation from a linguist at the University of Pittsburgh, who has published a scholarly paper in the journal American Speech that deconstructs and deciphers the word "dude." (Yes, he was paid to do that.)

Hey dude, Scott Kiesling insists that "dude" is much more than a simple catchall for lazy, inarticulate surfers, skaters, slackers, and teenagers, reports The Associated Press. It's ability to morph into multiple meanings and uses has ensured its place in the lexicon of old and young alike.

Here are some of the many uses of "dude"--just in case you doubted the eminent professor:
Greetings: "What's up, dude?"
An exclamation: "Whoa, dude!"
Commiseration: "Dude, I'm so sorry."
A great one-up: "That's so lame, dude."
Agreement, surprise, and disgust (depending on your tone): "Dude."

How "dude" was used historically:
Originally: It meant "old rags." A "dudesman" was a scarecrow.
Late 1800s: A "dude" was akin to a "dandy," a meticulously dressed man, especially out West.
1930s and 1940s: "Dude" became cool.
1981: Dude became part of the teenage lexicon with the movie "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."

Kiesling explains that the word derives its power from something he calls cool solidarity, which is an effortless kinship that's not too intimate. AP notes that cool solidarity is especially important to young men who are under social pressure to be close with other young men, but not enough to be suspected as gay. "It's like man or buddy, there is often this male-male addressed term that says, 'I'm your friend but not much more than your friend,'" Kiesling told AP.

The dude study: As part of his extensive research decoding the finer shades of meaning of "dude," Kiesling listened to conversations with fraternity brothers whom he taped in 1993. In addition, in 2001 and 2002 he asked undergraduate students in sociolinguistics classes to write down the first 20 times they heard the word "dude" and who said it during a three-day period.

The results, dude: He found the word taps into nonconformity and a new American image of leisurely success, notes AP.

* Men used "dude" much more than women, although the ladies did sometimes call each other dudes. (Dudettes?)
* The least frequent use of "dude" is between genders, and when it is used, it comes with rules. "Men report that they use dude with women with whom they are close friends, but not with women with whom they are intimate," according to the study.
* And the people with whom the students were least likely to use the word "dude" is with parents, bosses, and professors. Authority figures are not dudes.

And that's the word, dude.