"Nature is God's Will and is its expression in and through the contingent world" (Baha'u'llah)

Exploring the Physical World – Using Science & Religion

January 22, 2017

Orangutans stay with mother for up to 10 years

An 11-month-old baby copies mom at mealtime. The juvenile will stay with its mother for up to 10 years as she passes on essential survival skills. Among them: how to find the most nutritious rain forest fruits. 
(National Geographic magazine)

January 15, 2017

Purpose of Man’s Creation

The purpose of the creation of man is the attainment of the supreme virtues of humanity through descent of the heavenly bestowals. The purpose of man's creation is, therefore, unity and harmony, not discord and separateness. If the atoms which compose the kingdom of the minerals were without affinity for each other, the earth would never have been formed, the universe could not have been created. Because they have affinity for each other, the power of life is able to manifest itself, and the organisms of the phenomenal world become possible. When this attraction or atomic affinity is destroyed, the power of life ceases to manifest; death and nonexistence result. 
-‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk on 12 April 1912 at Home of Mr. and Mrs. Howard MacNutt; ‘The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912’)

January 13, 2017

Comforting a young Rhino

Lulah’s mother was killed by poachers in Kruger National Park. She now lives at Care for Wild Africa, a sanctuary specializing in rhinos. Staff member Dorota Ladosz lives with her full-time and comforts her after surgery to repair wounds inflicted by hyenas before her rescue. 
(National Geographic magazine)

January 10, 2017

Befriending a deer

A Buddhist monk cares for a spotted deer he rescued when he found it alone in the forest near the ruins of Ritigala Monastery in Sri Lanka. 
(National Geographic magazine)

January 5, 2017

Global & Regional Winds

Winds blow on both a regional scale and a global scale. Global-scale belts of moving air spiral around the Earth, driven by the Sun's energy. As the Earth turns, the circular wind cells become spiral belts, such that air moving toward the equator blows to the west, and air moving toward the poles blows to the east. Regional winds may augment or diminish global winds. 
(Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia of Science Year Book)

December 31, 2016

Lava & Plants

The many ridges and folds that form when the lava flow cools -- and eventually stops -- trap windblown dirt and seeds. Plants grow rapidly in the rich volcanic soil. In a matter of years, the entire area destroyed by a volcano can be revegetated. 
(Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia of Science Year Book)

December 27, 2016

Harvest mouse - Europe’s smallest rodent

A harvest mouse——grooms itself on a hogweed flower head in a meadow near Moulton, England. This adult was raised in captivity, microchipped, and released as part of a study on how the elusive species survives. 
(National Geographic magazine)

December 20, 2016

“Man” has always existed – even when there was no Earth

…the divinity of God, which is the totality of all perfections, reveals itself in the reality of man -- that is, the divine Essence is the sum total of all perfections, and from this station it casts a ray of its splendour upon the human reality. In other words, the Sun of Truth is reflected in this mirror. Thus man is a perfect mirror facing the Sun of Truth and is the seat of its reflection. The splendour of all the divine perfections is manifest in the reality of man, and it is for this reason that he is the vicegerent and apostle of God. If man did not exist, the universe would be without result, for the purpose of existence is the revelation of the divine perfections. We cannot say, then, that there was a time when man was not. At most we can say that there was a time when this earth did not exist, and that at the beginning man was not present upon it.

But from the beginning that has no beginning to the end that has no end, a perfect Manifestation has always existed. This Man of Whom we speak here is not just any man: That which we intend is the Perfect Man. For the noblest part of the tree, and the fundamental purpose of its existence, is the fruit. A tree without fruit is of no use. Therefore, it cannot be imagined that the world of existence, whether in the realms above or below, was once populated by cows and donkeys, cats, and mice, and yet was deprived of the presence of man. What a false and vacuous notion!
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (Table talks in Akka, authenticated by ‘Abdu’l-Baha; ‘Some Answered Questions’ – 2014 revised translation by the Baha’i World Centre)

December 17, 2016

Mantis Shrimp

Mantis Shrimp, common name for a group of tropical marine crustaceans. Mantis shrimp are also called praying shrimp because they hold their large, hinged claws in a position reminiscent of hands clasped in prayer. Mantis shrimps vary in length from 6.4 to 56 cm (from 2.5 to 22 in). Their stalked eyes are borne on separate, movable segments. Mantis shrimp are nocturnal, foraging aggressively for food at night. (Encarta encyclopedia)

December 11, 2016

Peacock Bass

Fry of a Peacock Bass hover around their mom for protection against predators. Peacock Bass, part of the Cichlid family, exercise excellent parental care and will protect their young against any threat that approaches them. This tropical species from South America was intentionally introduced in South Florida during the 1980s to control the African Tilapia, another invasive species. (National Geographic)

December 5, 2016

Green Meteor

A green meteor around the Skyislands in India. The meteor’s greenish color come from a combination of the heating of oxygen around the meteor and the mix of minerals ignited as the rock enters Earth's atmosphere. (Adapted from National Geograohic)

November 29, 2016

Silversides

Silversides swirl through mangroves like a river in the sea. They are carnivorous fish with silvery band along each side of their bodies. The dense forest of roots offers welcome shelter for the finger-size fish, which form large schools to try to confuse predators. Mangroves enhance reefs by providing a nursery area for vulnerable creatures and by trapping sediment that can smother coral. They also store carbon that might otherwise contribute to global warming. 
(Adapted from Encarta encyclopedia and National Geographic magazine)

November 26, 2016

Viruses on other life-bearing planets

It has been proposed that viruses are likely to be encountered on other life-bearing planets. Efforts to discover current or past life on Mars is an active area of research. On 24 January 2014, NASA reported that current studies on the planet Mars by the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers will now be searching for evidence of ancient life, including a biosphere based on autotrophic, chemotrophic and/or chemolithoautotrophic microorganisms, as well as ancient water, including fluvio-lacustrine environments (plains related to ancient rivers or lakes) that may have been habitable. The search for evidence of habitability, taphonomy (related to fossils), and organic carbon on the planet Mars is now a primary NASA objective. 
(Wikipedia encyclopedia)

November 20, 2016

Diversity in nature

Consider the world of created beings, how varied and diverse they are in species, yet with one sole origin. All the differences that appear are those of outward form and colour. This diversity of type is apparent throughout the whole of nature.

Behold a beautiful garden full of flowers, shrubs, and trees. Each flower has a different charm, a peculiar beauty, its own delicious perfume and beautiful colour. The trees too, how varied are they in size, in growth, in foliage -- and what different fruits they bear! Yet all these flowers, shrubs and trees spring from the self-same earth, the same sun shines upon them and the same clouds give them rain.

So it is with humanity. It is made up of many races, and its peoples are of different colour, white, black, yellow, brown and red -- but they all come from the same God, and all are servants to Him. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk on October 28th, 1911, Paris, France)

November 14, 2016

Octopus releasing protective ink

This algae octopus, Abdopus aculeatus, has just inked. Octopuses release ink when they feel threatened; the ink swirls into a dark cloud that distracts predators. The adaptation is ancient: Ink sacs are present in fossils of octopus ancestors that are more than 300 million years old. 
(National Geographic magazine)

November 8, 2016

Arizona, USA: Lightning & rainbow

In the Sonoran Desert near Red Rock, Arizona, a fast-moving electrical storm and a rainbow share the sky in this composite image. Several ranges in this part of Arizona, USA—including the nearby Tortolita Mountains—help spawn thunder and lightning. 
(National Geographic magazine)

October 30, 2016

Mammals that lay eggs and suckle their young

The duck-billed platypus and the echidna or spiny anteater, indigenous to Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea, are the only two species of mammals that lay eggs (a non-mammalian feature) but suckle their young (a mammalian feature). These mammals resemble reptiles in that they lay rubbery shell-covered eggs that are incubated and hatched outside the mother's body. In addition they resemble reptiles in their digestive, reproductive, and excretory systems, and in a number of anatomical details (eye structure, presence of certain skull bones, pectoral [shoulder] girdle, and rib and vertebral structures). However they are classed as mammals because they have fur and a four-chambered heart, nurse their young from gland milk, are warm-blooded, and have some mammalian skeletal features. 
(Adapted from 'The Handy Science Answer Book', compiled by the Science and Technology department of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh)

October 24, 2016

“…every fixed star hath its own planets, and every planet its own creatures…”

Thou hast, moreover, asked Me concerning the nature of the celestial spheres. To comprehend their nature, it would be necessary to inquire into the meaning of the allusions that have been made in the Books of old to the celestial spheres and the heavens, and to discover the character of their relationship to this physical world, and the influence which they exert upon it. Every heart is filled with wonder at so bewildering a theme, and every mind is perplexed by its mystery. God, alone, can fathom its import. The learned men, that have fixed at several thousand years the life of this earth, have failed, throughout the long period of their observation, to consider either the number or the age of the other planets. Consider, moreover, the manifold divergencies that have resulted from the theories propounded by these men. Know thou that every fixed star hath its own planets, and every planet its own creatures, whose number no man can compute. 
- Baha'u'llah  (‘Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah’)

October 12, 2016

Bioluminescent Jellyfish

Bioluminescence is emission of light from living organisms, without appreciable heat. The light results from a chemical reaction mediated by enzymes (see Enzyme) and involving specialized phosphorus-containing molecules in the organisms. Bioluminescence is found in species of bacteria, algae, fungi, and invertebrate animals. Some deep-sea fish are equipped with organs that produce luminescence to which prey is attracted. The flashes emitted by male and female fireflies are used as species-specific signals for mating. 
(Encarta encyclopedia)