The Forum's Cornucopia of Learning

During our Forum discussions and presentations there are often many interesting points of learning that we want to capture and not forget! This "Cornucopia of Learning" is where these points of learning are captured and stored for posterity!  If you feel there is any inaccuracy in any of the points please Click Here to give us your feedback.

The dates shown beside each point of learning is the date of the forum meeting when the point was discussed. This provides you with an understanding of the broad range of topics that are often discussed at each forum meeting. 

 Table of Learning Points


 What year is it as per Hindu Calendar?


 Why Muslims celebrate Eid twice a year?


 Mystery of Mast Years




 Some words used in English that originated from India  


 What is a Blue Moon and why is it called a Blue Moon?  




 Did Moses Part the Red Sea?  


 Where did the expression “Laughing your head off” originate?


 How old are the photons of light from the Sun that we see today?


 What does Cornucopia mean?  


 Why are minutes & seconds called minutes & seconds?     


 When did artists start to paint in three dimensions with true perspective?




 God Pantocrator 


 Rome’s Pantheon   


 Scroll down to see points of learning.


What year is it as per Hindu Calendar?                                      19/10/2017

India's cultural diversities are of eccentric proportions — even when it comes to counting days. Just imagine people in different part of the country using 30 different date systems! With so many different calendars, one might land up having a couple of new year celebrations every month!

Until 1957, when the government decided to put an end to this colossal confusion, about 30 different calendars were being used for arriving at the dates of various religious festivals among Hindus, Buddhist, and Jains.

These calendars were mostly based on the astronomical practices of local priests and "kalnirnayaks" or calendar makers. In addition, the Muslims followed the Islamic calendar, and the Gregorian calendar was used for administrative purposes by the government.


The current national calendar of India was set up in 1957 by the Calendar Reform Committee that formalized a lunisolar calendar in which leap years coincide with those of the Gregorian calendar, and the months are named after the traditional Indian months (see table). This reformed Indian calendar began with Saka Era, Chaitra 1, 1879, which corresponds to March 22, 1957.


In the Indian civil calendar, the initial epoch is the Saka Era, a traditional era of Indian chronology that is said to have begun with King Salivahana's accession to the throne and is also the reference for most astronomical works in Sanskrit literature written after 500 AD.

In the Saka calendar, the year 2017 AD is 1939.

The other popular epoch is the Vikram era that is believed to have begun with the coronation of King Vikramaditya. The year 2017 AD corresponds to 2074 in this system.

However, the Hindu religious theory of eras divides time in four "yugs" or "yugas" (ages): Satya Yug, Treta Yug, Dwapar Yug and Kali Yug.

We live in the Kali Yug that is believed to have begun with the death of Krishna, which corresponds to the midnight between February 17 and 18, 3102 B.C. In the Hindu calendar, the year 2017 AD is 5119.


The Hindu calendar is called the "panchang" (or "panchanga" or "Panjika"). It is a vital part of the lives of Hindus, for it is indispensable in calculating the dates of festivals, and auspicious times and days for performing various rituals. The Hindu calendar was initially based on the movements of the moon and allusions to such calendars can be found in the Rig Veda, dating back to the second millennium B.C. In the first few centuries A.D., Babylonian and Greek astronomical ideas reformed the Indian calendar systems, and since then both solar and lunar movements were considered in calculating dates. However, most religious festivals and auspicious occasions are still decided on the basis of lunar movements.


According to the Hindu calendar, a lunar year consists of 12 months. A lunar month has two fortnights, and begins with the new moon called "amavasya". The lunar days are called "tithis". Each month has 30 tithis, which may vary from 20 - 27 hours. During the waxing phases, tithis are called "shukla" or the bright phase — the auspicious fortnight, beginning with the full moon night called "purnima".

Tithis for the waning phases are called "krishna" or the dark phase, which is regarded as the inauspicious fortnight.

Why Muslims celebrate Eid twice a year?                                  19/10/2017

What is Eid?

Eid literally means a “festival” or “feast” in Arabic. It is celebrated twice a year as Eid al-Adha, (pronounced eed al-Ahd-huh) and Eid al-Fitr.

Why is it celebrated twice a year?

The two Eids recognize, celebrate and recall two distinct events that are significant to the story of the Islamic faith.

Eid al-Fitr means “the feast of breaking the fast.” The fast, in this instance, is that of Ramadan, which recalls the revealing of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad.

Eid celebrations can last up to three days. In many countries with large Muslim populations, it is a national holiday. Schools, offices and businesses are closed so family, friends and neighbors can enjoy the celebrations together. Saudi Arabia has announced a 16-day holiday this year for Eid. In Turkey and in places that were once part of the Ottoman-Turkish empire such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Azerbaijan and the Caucasus, it is also known as the, “Lesser Bayram” (meaning “lesser festival” in Turkish).

The other festival, Eid al-Adha, is the “feast of the sacrifice.” It commemorates the end of Hajj, an annual pilgrimage by millions of Muslims to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia that is obligatory once in a lifetime, but only for those with means.

Eid al-Adha recalls the story of how God commanded Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ismail as a test of faith (the story is of Abraham and Isaac in the Hebrew Torah and Christian Old Testament). The story, as narrated in the Quran, describes Satan’s attempt to tempt Ibrahim so he would disobey God’s command. Ibrahim, however, remains unmoved and informs Ismail, who is willing to be sacrificed.

But, just as Ibrahim attempts to kill his son, God intervenes and a ram is sacrificed in place of Ismail. This story has institutionalized the ideal of sacrifice in Islam and continues to be commemorated each year. During Eid al-Adha, Muslims slaughter an animal to remember Ibrahim’s sacrifice and remind themselves of the need to submit to the will of God. Eid al-Adha is also known as the “Greater Bayram.”

When are they celebrated?

Eid al-Adha is celebrated on the 10th day of the 12th and final month in the Islamic calendar.

Eid al-Fitr is celebrated on the first day of the 10th month in the Islamic calendar.

The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, and dates are calculated based on lunar phases. Due to this, the Islamic calendar year is shorter than the solar Gregorian calendar year by 10 to 12 days.

Thus, Ramadan and Eid “rotate” through the Gregorian calendar and can be celebrated during different seasons in the Southern and Northern hemispheres. In 2017, for example, Eid al-Fitr was celebrated on June 25. In 2018, the date for Eid al-Fitr will be June 15. For Eid al-Adha, the date this year is September 1. In 2018, it will fall on August 21.

What customs are common during the two Eids?

Eid al-Fitr features two to three days of celebrations that include special prayers. People greet each other with “Eid Mubarak,” meaning “Blessed Eid.” Gifts are given out to the poor before the morning prayers. In addition, Muslims are encouraged to forgive differences and let go of grudges. There are a multitude of other practices that vary from country to country.

On Eid al-Adha, pilgrims in Mecca reenact Ibrahim’s rejection of Satan’s temptation. During the pilgrimage, Muslims cast stones at a pillar, which represents Satan. In remembrance of how Ibrahim was given a ram to sacrifice as a substitute for his son, they proceed to sacrifice animals such as goats, cattle, sheep or camels.

Those unable to go on the pilgrimage visit mosques and even family gravesites..

What is the spiritual meaning of sacrifice during Eid al-Adha?

The sacrifice represents how, like Ibrahim, pilgrims and practicing Muslims worldwide are willing to give up even their most precious possessions.

Charity to the poor is a highly emphasized value in Islam. The Quran says,

“believe in Allah and his messenger, and give charity out of the (substance) that Allah has made you heirs of. For those of you who believe and give charity – for them is a great reward.” (57.7)

So, as part of this practice, only around a third of the meat is consumed by the family or group of friends; the rest is given to the poor and needy.

Furthermore, the sacrifice of animals too is carried out through specific instructions that minimize their suffering. This is part of the moral obligation of Muslims.

What are some of the modern-day challenges?

With more than two million arriving in Mecca these days, the pilgrimage presents a logistical challenge for countries providing meat for the sacrifice. Saudi authorities strive to find alternative methods of preserving, distributing and dealing with the vast amount of meat that comes from the animal sacrifices.

Mystery of Mast Years                                                                   19/10/2017

One of the great mysteries of the countryside is how in some years groups of oak and beech trees produce huge numbers of seeds and in others almost none. This fluctuation affects the populations of a large variety of animals that rely on the trees’ nutritious nuts for food.

There is a generally accepted theory for why these “mast years” happen. Naturalists believe that by producing, all at once, vast quantities of seeds that are eaten by many creatures, enough survives intact until the spring to form trees.

Reproduction is often aided by birds such as jays, which bury acorns to retrieve later, perhaps forgetting where they stored them. Some acorns are said to pass right through wild boar and are deposited back on the ground complete with fertiliser.

A second notion is that production of quantities of large seeds, such as acorns, could weaken trees. So if you live for several hundred years it is better to conserve and build up your energy for a breeding cycle of three to five years.

That does not resolve the other question. How do all the beech or oak trees coordinate their mast years to produce vast quantities of seed simultaneously?

It is almost certainly to do with the weather at the time that the trees are flowering. Both species rely on wind-blown pollen reaching female flowers. If all the beech or oaks in a wood flower at once in warm windy conditions then the chances of mass fertilisation must be far greater. A sudden cold snap, like the one this spring, would have the opposite effect.

Diwali                                                                                              19/10/2017

Why does the date of Diwali change?                                              

The date of the festival is calculated according to the position of the moon and the Hindu lunar calendar and is usually in October or November.

This means the date of Diwali changes each year and, in 2017, the main date is TODAY (October 19).

But Diwali itself began on October 17 - and celebrations continue for five days.

Diwali is observed by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains around the world and is often celebrated by street parties and fireworks.

What do the different dates of Diwali mean?

1. Dhanteras (October 17): 'Dhah' means wealth - and this day is dedicated to celebrating prosperity.

2. Naraka Chaturdasi or Chhoti Diwali (October 18): Known as 'small Diwali', Goddess Kali and Lord Krishna are believed to have destroyed the demon Narakasura on this day. Kali is worshiped in West Bengal, while demon effigies are burned in Goa.

3. Amavasya (October 19): The new moon day, and the darkest day of the month, which is the most significant day of Diwali.

4. The fourth day (October 20): This day has various meanings in different parts of India. In the north, it's the day Lord Krishna defeated Indra. In Gujarat, it's the start of the new year.

5. Bhai Dooj (October 21): A feast and celebration of brotherly-sisterly love

Why is Diwali celebrated by Hindus?

The five-day festival, which coincides with Hindu New Year, is seen to be one of the most significant in the Indian culture.

Many people celebrate the legend of Hindu God Rama and his wife Sita's returning to their kingdom in northern India after being exiled following the defeat of demon king Ravanna.

The word itself means "series of lights" and during the festival houses and shops are decorated with candles and lights.

This is meant to represent light over darkness and the Hindu belief that good will always triumph over evil.

For many Indians, Diwali honours Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and people will start the new business year at Diwali and some will say prayers to the goddess for a prosperous year ahead.

What is the festival of light all about?

Diwali is marked by huge firework displays, which are supposed to reflect the celebrations of Lord Rama's return.

Traditional earthen diyas or candles are lit, and houses are decorated with colourful rangoli artworks – patterns created on the floor using coloured rice or powder.

During the festival, families and friends share sweets and gifts and there is also a strong belief in giving to those in need. It is also traditional for homes to be cleaned and new clothes to be worn.

Indian sweets which come in a range of colours and flavours are also eaten during the celebrations, as well as various rich savoury and sweet dishes.

 Some words used in English that originated from India           12/10/2017         



From Hindi अवतार, from Sanskrit, descent of a deity from a heaven



from bandhna (बांधना) to tie.


from bāngṛī बांगड़ी, a type of bracelet.


"Britain" (as a term of endearment among British troops stationed in Colonial India): from Hindi-Urdu vilāyatī (विलायती, ولايتى) "foreign", ultimately from Arabo-Persian ولايتى "provincial, regional".


from बंगला banglA and Urdu بنگلہ banglA, literally, "(house) in the Bengal style".



from cītā, चीता, meaning "variegated".


from चिट्ठी Chitthi, a letter or note.


from चटनी chatni, meaning "to crush"


from Khāt, खाट, a bed.


from Chokath, Urdu, a door frame.


from kamarband , cf. कमरबन्द - Urdu کمربند, meaning "waist binding" [ultimately from Persian کمربند]


probably from khushi, cf. Hindi ख़ुशी - Urdu خوشی "easy, happy, soft" [ultimately from Persian]; but some sources prefer an origin from "cushion"[3]



from Daku, meaning a member of a class of criminals who engage in organized robbery and murder. Hence also dacoity(banditry)


(UK slang for 'a look') from देखो Dekho, the imperative 'look', (دیکھو देखो ) meaning look at or study something.


from Dinghi, small boat, wherry-boat


Heavy denim fabric, also referring to trousers made thereof, from Hindi डूंगरी (ḍūṅgrī, “coarse calico”), the name of a village.


Garam masala

from Hindi and Urdu गरम मसाला گرم مصالح garam masālā, literally "hot ( = spicy) mixture",[4] from Persian گرم garm 'warm, hot' and Arabic مصالح maṣāliḥ 'benefits, requirements, ingredients'.


from Hindi guru "teacher, priest," from Sanskrit गुरुः guruḥ "one to be honored, teacher," literally "heavy, weighty."


A term, which originally referred to a place where sporting events take, place and referred to any of various meets at which contests were held to test the skill of the competitors. In English-speaking countries, a gymkhana refers to a multi-game equestrian event performed to display the training and talents of horses and their rider [-khānā from Pers. khānāh خانه "house, dwelling"]



modification of Sanskrit jagannaath, from Jagannath (Puri), [India], where such cloth was first made.


Full-length trousers, worn for horseback riding, that are close-fitting below the knee and have reinforced patches on the inside of the leg. Named after Jodhpur, where similar garments are worn by Indian men as part of everyday dress.


from Jagannath (Sanskrit: जगन्नाथ jagannātha), a form of Vishnu particularly worshipped at the Jagannath Temple, Puri, Odisha where during Rath Yatra festival thousands of devotees pull temple carts some 14m (45 feet) tall, weighing hundreds of tons through the streets. These carts seat three images of the deity, meant to be brothers for a 'stroll' outside after the ritual worship session. They are fed by thousands and thousands of worshipers with holy food, as if the icons were living. Early European visitors witnessed these festivals and returned with—possibly apocryphal—reports of religious fanatics committing suicide by throwing themselves under the wheels of the carts. So the word became a metaphor for something immense and unstoppable because of institutional or physical inertia; or impending catastrophe that is foreseeable yet virtually unavoidable because of such inertia.


from जङल् jangal, another word for wilderness or forest.



from खकि khākī "of dust colour, dusty, grey", cf. Hindi ख़ाकी - Urdu خاکی [ultimately from Persian].


A hat shaped like a fez but made of real or imitation karakul and worn by Pakistani Muslims on occasion. It is called a "Karakulli topi" (Topi meaning cap).


from Sanskrit, the result of a person's actions as well as the actions themselves. It is a term about the cycle of cause and effect.



from LooT लूट, meaning 'steal'. Robbery



from Multan, Pakistan: A kind of rug prevalent there.


from Hindi and Urdu: An acknowledged leader in a field, from the Mughal rulers of India like Akbar and Shah Jahan, the builder of the Taj Mahal.


from Hindi and Sanskrit: A king.


from Hindi and Sanskrit: a word or phrase used in meditation.



(in Buddhism) a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. It represents the final goal of Buddhism.

Nehru jacket

a kind of sleeveless jacket that worn buttoned up to neck - formal and often worn by the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru.



from Hindi पश्मीना, Urdu پشمينه, ultimately from Persian پشمينه.


from Hindi poori, from Sanskrit पुर (pura) or "cake".


from Hindi and Urdu panch پانچ, meaning "five". The drink was originally made with five ingredients: alcohol, sugar, lemon, water, and tea or spices. The original drink was named paantsch.


from पण्डित Pandit, meaning a learned scholar or Priest.


(UK slang: "genuine") from Pakkā पक्का,پکا cooked, ripe, solid.


from Hindi, पैजामा (paijaamaa), meaning "leg garment", coined from Persian پاى "foot, leg" and جامه "garment" .



from Hindi and Urdu रायता ریتا rayta yogurt based dish, some add sliced/chopped/diced, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, pineapples, pomegranate or other salads to complement rice or roti meals.


from Hindi and Urdu रॊटी روٹی roti "bread"; akin to Prakrit रॊट्ट rotta "rice flour", Sanskrit रोटिका rotika "kind of bread".



Derived from Hindustani chāmpo (चाँपो [tʃãːpoː]) (verb imperative, meaning "rub!"), dating to 1762.



from Thagi ठग, meaning "thief or con man".

Toddy (also Hot toddy) 

from Tārī ताड़ी, juice of the palmyra palm.


from Urdu طوفان toofaan. A cyclonic storm.



from Hindi baramdaa बरामदा or another Indian language, but ultimately probably from Portuguese or Spanish.



From Sanskrit term (योग) for ancient Hindu spiritual practices common in India that have become internationally popular.

What is a Blue Moon and why is it called a Blue Moon?           12/10/2017

The term has traditionally referred to an "extra" moon, where a year, which normally has 12 moons, has 13 instead. The "blue moon" reference is applied to the third moon in a season with four moons, thus correcting the timing of the last month of a season that would have otherwise been expected too early. This happens every two to three years (seven times in the Metonic cycle of 19 years). 

Owing to the rarity of a blue moon, the term "blue moon" is used colloquially to mean a rare event, as in the phrase "once in a blue moon”

Origin of the term

The suggestion has been made that the term "blue moon" for "intercalary month" arose by folk etymology, the "blue" replacing the no-longer-understood belewe, 'to betray'. The original meaning would then have been "betrayer moon", referring to a full moon that would "normally" (in years without an intercalary month) be the full moon of spring, while in an intercalary year, it was "traitorous" in the sense that people would have had to continue fasting for another month in accordance with the season of Lent.

The earliest recorded English usage of the term blue moon is found in an anti-clerical pamphlet (attacking the Roman clergy, and cardinal Thomas Wolsey in particular) by two converted Greenwich friars, William Roy and Jerome Barlow, published in 1528 under the title Rede me and be nott wrothe, for I say no thynge but trothe. The relevant passage reads:

O churche men are wyly foxes [...] Yf they say the mone is blewe / We must beleve that it is true / Admittynge their interpretacion. (ed. Arber 1871 p. 114)

Blue Coloured Moon

Astronomical Blue Moons happen either once every 2 to 3 years or so, depending on which of the definitions you apply.

A Moon that actually looks blue, however, is a very rare sight. The Moon, full or any other phase, can appear blue when the atmosphere is filled with dust or smoke particles of a certain size; slightly wider than 0.7 micron. The particles scatter the red light, making the Moon appear blue in colour. This can happen for instance after a dust storm, a forest fire, or a volcanic eruption.

Eruptions like on Mt. Krakatoa, Indonesia (1883), El Chichon, Mexico (1983), Mt. St. Helens (1980) and Mount Pinatubo (1991) are all known to have caused blue moons.


Today at the Forum Richard Potter gave a short presentation on the Beatitudes, which gave rise to several points of learning. 

The word is from the Latin beatus, meaning “blessed,” and each of the Beatitudes begins with the word blessed.

The Beatitudes are eight blessings recounted in the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew (5:3-10). Each is a proverb-like proclamation, without narrative, "cryptic, precise, and full of meaning. Each one includes a topic that forms a major biblical theme".

The eight blessings are:

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

"Poor in spirit" means to be humble. Humility is the realization that all your gifts and blessings come from the grace of God. To have poverty of spirit means to be completely empty and open to the Word of God. When we are an empty cup and devoid of pride, we are humble. Humility brings openness and an inner peace, allowing one to do the will of God. He who humbles himself is able to accept our frail nature, to repent, and to allow the grace of God to lead us to conversion. 

It is pride, the opposite of humility, that brings misery. For pride brings anger and the seeking of revenge, especially when one is offended. If every man were humble and poor in spirit, there would be no war!

  • Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.

If we are humble and appreciate that all of our gifts and blessings come from God, we grow in love and gratitude for Jesus Christ our Savior. But this can only produce mourning and regret over our own sins and the sins of this world, for we have hurt the one who has been so good to us. One also mourns for the suffering of others. 

 St. Gregory describes another reason to mourn: the more one ascends in meditation of Divine Truth, Beauty, and Goodness, and then realize the poverty of human nature, man can only be left in sorrow. When one contemplates that we were made in the image and likeness of God and lived in Paradise, the Garden of Eden, and compare that to our present state after the Fall, one can only mourn our present condition. But the sentence continues that they shall be comforted, by the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, and hopefully one day in the Kingdom of Heaven. Pray for the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22) - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. 

 Mourning in this context is called a blessing, because mourning our fallen nature creates in us a desire to improve ourselves and to do what is right!

  • Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

St. Gregory of Nyssa taught that the Beatitudes build one upon another. A humble person becomes meek, or becomes gentle and kind, and exhibits a docility of spirit, even in the face of adversity and hardship. A person that is meek is one that exhibits self-control. St. Augustine advises us to be meek in the face of the Lord, and not resist but be obedient to him. Obedience and submission to the will of God are certainly not in vogue these days, but they will bring one peace in this world and in the next.

  • Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Justice and righteousness in the New Covenant indicate the fulfillment of God's will in your heart and soul. It is not mere observance of the law (Matthew 5:20), but rather an expression of brotherly love (I John 3:10). A continuous desire for justice and moral perfection will lead one to a fulfillment of that desire - a transition and conversion to holiness. This is true for all the virtues - if you hunger and thirst for temperance, you will head towards the goal you have in mind. St. Augustine called the Beatitudes the ideal for every Christian life! In his discourse on the Lord's Sermon on the Mount, he noted the correspondence of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit and their necessity in fulfilling the Beatitudes. For example, one must have the gift of fortitude so one may be courageous in seeking social justice.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Mercy is the loving disposition towards those who suffer distress. Love, compassion, and forgiveness towards one's neighbor will bring peace in your relationships. We say in the Lord's Prayer: Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. As we are merciful to others, so our Heavenly Father will be merciful with us! Jesus reminds us that whatever "you did to the least of my brethren, you did it to me (Matthew 25:31-46)." St. Paul calls for the obedience of faith in the beginning and end of his Letter to the Romans (1:5, 16:25-27).

  • Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God. 

Moses (Exodus 33:20), John 1:18, and Paul (I Timothy 6:16) all say that no one can see God here on earth! But Jesus says the pure of heart shall see God! To be pure of heart means to be free of all selfish intentions and self-seeking desires. What a beautiful goal! How many times have any of us performed an act perfectly free of any personal gain? Such an act is pure love. An act of pure and selfless giving brings happiness to all.

  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.

Jesus gives us peace - "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you" (John 14:27). Peace is also a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Peacemakers not only live peaceful lives but also try to bring peace and friendship to others, and to preserve peace between God and man. But one cannot give another what one does not possess oneself. Praying for peace will help change your heart. The Lord wants you first to be filled with the blessings of peace and then to pass it on to those who have need of it. By imitating God's love of man, the peacemakers become children of God.

  • Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

The biblical passage continues to elaborate: "Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matthew 5:11-12). Jesus said many times that those who follow Him will be persecuted. "If they persecute me, they will persecute you" (John 15:20-21). Before his Conversion, Saul persecuted the early Church in Jerusalem, which scattered the Christians throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1). St. Peter advised "Whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed but glorify God because of the name" (I Peter 4:16). The Woman who brought forth the male child destined to rule all nations with an iron rod was persecuted in Revelation 12.

Did Moses Part the Red Sea?                                                          5/10/2017

A new computer modelling study suggests a powerful wind could have divided the waters just as depicted in the Book of Exodus.

The likely location of the ''miracle'' was not the Red Sea as such, but a nearby spot in the Nile Delta region.

In the biblical account, Moses and the fleeing Israelites are trapped between the Pharaoh's advancing chariots and a body of water identified from translations as either the Red Sea or Sea of Reeds.

Thanks to divine intervention, a mighty east wind blows all night, splitting the waters to leave a passage of dry land with walls of water on both sides.

Scientists in the US studying ancient maps of the Nile Delta region pinpointed where the crossing may have occurred, just south of the Mediterranean Sea

Here, according to some experts, an ancient branch of the Nile flowed into a coastal lagoon then known as the Lake of Tanis.

Analysis of archaeological records, satellite measurements and maps allowed the researchers to estimate the water flow and depth at the site 3,000 years ago.

An ocean computer model was then used to simulate the impact of a strong overnight wind on the six-foot-deep waters.

The scientists found that an east wind of 63 mph blowing for 12 hours would have driven the shallow waters back, both into the lake and the river channel.

For a period of four hours, this would have created a land bridge about two miles long and three miles wide.

The waters really would have been parted, with barriers of water raised on both sides of the newly exposed mud flats.

As soon as the winds dropped, the waters would have rushed back, much like a tidal bore. Anyone stranded on the mud flats would have been at risk of drowning, said the scientists, whose findings are reported today in the online journal Public Library of Science ONE.

Lead researcher Carl Drews, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, said: ''The simulations match fairly closely with the account in Exodus.

''The parting of the waters can be understood through fluid dynamics. The wind moves the water in a way that's in accordance with physical laws, creating a safe passage with water on two sides and then abruptly allowing the water to rush back in.

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

The set of 14 computer simulations showed that dry land could also have been exposed at two other nearby sites during a wind storm from the east.

Those events did not fit so well with the Biblical account, since both involved a single body of water getting pushed to one side rather than being parted.

Where did the expression “Laughing your head off” originate?  5/10/2017

It was on the 9th of April 1747 to be exact. Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat was executed on Tower Hill in London by John Thrift. Lovat was Chief of Clan Fraser of Lovat and by all accounts he was not a particularly nice man, with a violent streak and a cunning mind. During the ’45 Uprising he forced his son to fight with the Jacobites while he himself professed his loyalty to King George II claiming his sons actions were against his wishes.

Following the Jacobites defeat at Culloden his deceit was soon found out by the government and he was forced into hiding in the Highlands. He was eventually arrested on an island in Loch Morar and transported to London where after a trial lasting five days (in which evidence was given against him by fellow Jacobite John Murray of Broughton) he was sentenced to beheading on 19th March 1747.

Shortly before the execution, a scaffold for spectators viewing the beheading had collapsed and left 20 dead, much to his amusement. Apparently Lovat was laughing about the spectacle as the executioner’s axe fell. So ended the life of Simon Fraser and the phrase ‘laughing your head off’ was born.

How old are the photons of light from the Sun that we see today? 5/10/2017

It is common knowledge that it takes about 8 minutes and 20 seconds for light emitted from the surface of the sun to reach the surface of the earth. What is not so well know is that the photons that make up the light emitted from the sun were generated in the sun’s core some 170,000 years before they actually reach the surface of the sun! Therefore, the light we actually see today is 170,000 years, 8 minutes and 20 seconds old!

How do our scientists work this out? They have a model to understand the conditions inside the sun, and with a surface temperature of around 6,000 degrees Kelvin for example, what would you need inside the sun so that ultimately the energy flows out? This is can be derived by working backwards from known facts such as he surface temperature of the sun etc.

What does Cornucopia mean?                                                      28/09/2017

  • a symbol of plenty consisting of a goat's horn overflowing with flowers, fruit, and corn.
  • an ornamental container shaped like a goat's horn.
  • an abundant supply of good things of a specified kind: the festival offers a cornucopia of pleasures.

Why are minutes & seconds called minutes & seconds?            28/09/2017

There are 60 minutes in the hour, 24 hours in the day, 7 days in the week. There are therefore 1,440 minutes in the day and 10,080 minutes in the week. Obviously 1 minute is a very small quantity of time compared with a whole week. Indeed, our forefathers considered it small as compared with an hour, and called it “one minùte,” meaning a minute fraction—namely one sixtieth—of an hour. When they came to require still smaller subdivisions of time, they divided each minute into 60 still smaller parts, which, in Queen Elizabeth I’s reign, they called “second minùtes” (i.e., small quantities of the second order of minuteness). Nowadays we call these small quantities of the second order of smallness “seconds.” 

This would also explain why minutes and seconds are used as a fraction of a degree when talking about longitude and latitude.

When did artists start to paint in three dimensions with true perspective? 28/09/2017

This question arose during a presentation on “Early Christian Art as found in Cappadocia”. 

The system of perspective is taken for granted today is a relatively recent discovery in artistic history. Before the 14th Century little to no attempts were made to realistically depict the three-dimensional world in art in the way in which we are now accustomed to seeing it.

The art of the Byzantine, Medieval and Gothic periods was rich and beautiful, but the images made no attempt to create the illusion of depth and space.

The Italian masters Giotto (c. 1267 – 1337) and Duccio (c. 1255-1260 – c. 1318-1319) began to explore the idea of depth and volume in their art and can be credited with introducing an early form of perspective, using shadowing to great effect to create an illusion of depth, but it was still far from the kind of perspective we are used to seeing in art today.

The first known picture to make use of linear perspective was created by the Florentine architect Fillipo Brunelleshi (1377-1446). Painted in 1415, it depicted the Baptistery in Florence from the front gate of the unfinished cathedral. The linear perspective system projected the illusion of depth onto a two dimensional plane by use of ‘vanishing points’ to which all lines converged, at eye level, on the horizon. Soon after Brunelleshi’s painting, the concept caught on and many Italian artists started to use linear perspective in their paintings.

Masaccio (1401 – 1428), the first great painter of the early Renaissance period, was the first artist who demonstrated full command of the new rules of perspective; the figures in his paintings have volume and the buildings and landscapes realistically recede into the distance. Masaccio is seen now as being the initiator of the new style of Florentine Realism.

Cappadocia                                                                                     28/09/2017

Cappadocia, a semi-arid region in central Turkey, is known for its distinctive “fairy chimneys,” tall, cone-shaped rock formations clustered in Monks Valley, Göreme and elsewhere.


God Pantocrator                                                                             28/09/2017

The word Pantocrator is of Greek origin meaning "ruler of all". 

Rome’s Pantheon                                                                           28/09/2017

The word Pantheon is a Greek adjective meaning “honor all Gods”. In fact the pantheon was first built as a temple to all gods.

The most fascinating part of the Pantheon is its giant dome, with its famous hole in the top (The eye of the Pantheon, or oculus). The dome was the largest in the world for 1300 years and until today it remains the largest unsupported dome in the world! The diameter of the dome is 43.30 meters or 142ft (for comparison, the United States Capitol dome is 96 feet in diameter) and is in perfect proportion with the Pantheon by the fact that the distance from the floor to the top of the dome is exactly equal to its diameter.

The great architectural achievement was due to the massive weight of the large dome. Roman engineers lightened the dome as much as possible; not only its thickness progressively decreases, but the materials used in the upper part of the dome were lighter with internal spaces within the dome walls. The decrease in thickness has the effect that while the interior of the ceiling is spherical, its exterior is slightly “flattened”. It is larger than the dome of St. Peter’s basilica but since it seems flattened from the outside it is hard to get a full sense of its dimension. The hole (oculus), 7.8 meters in diameter, is the only source of light and is the connection between the temple and the gods above. Rain occasionally falls through it, but the floor is slanted and drains the water if it manages to hit the floor. In practice, rain seldom falls inside the dome.

The dome is made from a light tufa and scoria (a type of pumice) mix of concrete (caementa) and its interior is further lightened by five rings of 28 coffers which reduce in size as they rise towards the centre of the dome. These may have been originally covered in bronze sheets.

A lighting effect can be viewed on April 21 when the midday sun strikes a metal grille above the doorway, saturating the courtyard outside with light. The Romans celebrated April 21 as the founding date of the city, and the impressive sight of their Emperor standing at the entrance of the Pantheon surrounded by light coming from inside the pantheon might have been seen as something that, in effect, raised their emperor to the level of the gods and invited him in to join them.