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6th December, 2010

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Of bubbles and bees

Bubbles of gamma rays and burrowing bees hardly seem a likely pair to discuss in one piece. I do so in the hope that it will do for you what it has done for me - enhance your awareness of the fecundity of God's imagination (not to mention intellectual breadth, and so on). Unlike human geniuses, who invariably demonstrate utter brilliance in one field and near imbecility in others, the Creator, the Holy One of Israel and Father of Jesus Christ, has demonstrated unequivocally in His handiworks unlimited capacity for genius in any and every discipline that we can think of.

For believers in creation, a walk through the zoo can enhance one's appreciation of the creative imagination of the Divine Mind, but in a limited way. Limited, because in a zoo, everything - monkeys, butterflies, apes, and hummingbirds - fits in one fundamental category: living things. Perhaps I'm stating the obvious here (it's a hard job, but somebody has to do it), but it behooves those who love exploring the mind of God to consider all His works, not just those aspects one finds of personal interest. If you are a bird lover, well then, get into birds with all your being; and give God the glory. But don't forget that God is into more than birds. He also created electromagnetic radiation, planetary rings, viruses, biofilms and asteroids, tektites and rock, quarks and neutrinos, water and nematodes, volcanoes and parasites. Broadening one's field of inquiry will go a long way towards enhancing one's grasp of the scope of the Divine Mind. Over the past few days this truism has been impressed on me by, first, hearing a stunning news report about remarkable bubbles and, second, personal observation of burrowing bees.

Bubbles: A re-examination of data that has long been accessible to astronomers has revealed the presence of a remarkable peanut- or dumbbell-shaped bubble structure with well-defined edges in our Milky Way galaxy that slashes right through the heart of the galaxy. Until now, the bubbles' presence has been obscured by "a fog of background gamma rays". This structure spans 50,000 light years, a full two thirds of the diameter of the galaxy's disc, but lies at right angles to the plane of rotation of the disc. Double trouble festers within this double bubble; it throbs with the energy of 100,000 exploding stars.1 Hard hats and asbestos suits are absolute musts for any who seek to probe its secrets firsthand. The energy flying around in this bubble comes chiefly in the form of gamma rays, a narrow band at the high-frequency end of the electromagnetic spectrum. (Light, radio waves, microwaves and other forms of radiation share a place on the electromagnetic spectrum with gamma rays.)

Astronomers are excitedly discussing the nature of the source of the super-powerful emission. Favored explanations include a "particle jet from a supermassive black hole at the galactic centre" and "gas outflows from a burst of star formation". But they don't know; nor do they know how old it is. Old-universe creationists recognize that many exquisite features of the material world have not been around since "day one" of creation. Either God created them later during creation week or they have arisen as a result of natural processes created at some time or other during creation. Whether any given phenomenon has arisen through creation ex nihilo or creation by process the bottom line remains always the same: God must get all the credit. Complex universes throbbing with breath-taking processes don't just create themselves!

Burrowing bees: Last weekend our local field naturalists club took a wander along the Mersey River in northern Tasmania. One highlight for Martha and me included experiencing our first (and hopefully last) sting by an inchman ant (yes, they are an inch long). Ouch! Serves us right for disturbing their nest. But the major highlight for the whole group was the discovery of an extensive colony of burrowing bee nests covering about ten square yards in an area of sandy soil. Each underground nest with its invisible tunnels and brood chambers was marked at the surface by a small mound of excavated soil, about three inches across, with a hole in the centre. We watched transfixed as one by one a little bee head would pop into view and then either disappear again or emerge from the nest for a few seconds, scurry around on the mound, and then race back in. We didn't see any burst into flight, but a mating pair mysteriously appeared from nowhere on a walker's hat. To my knowledge, none of the other field nats believes in creation; nevertheless, all were tickled pink by the discovery. If only they understood!

All things bright and beautiful, all things huge and small, the Lord God made them all. Without having to turn His head (anthropomorphically speaking), without having to change focus, He sees the huge bubbles of gamma rays compassing thousands of light years and burrowing bees going about their business in tiny underground tunnels. More, He has the limitless imagination it took to dream up, and the infinite power to create, both gargantuan bubbles of energy stew and the intricacies of bees specially equipped to burrow in soil. That God deserves our reverence, our adoration, our admiration, our worship.

1 Scientists discover giant gamma-ray bubbles in the Milky Way


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Don't miss this brilliant video (scroll down) explaining the bubble discovery. It's less than two minutes long


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