New twist in wrangle over changing physical constant

A new study of distant galaxies is adding a fresh perspective to the debate over whether a fundamental physical constant has actually changed over time. The work suggests the number has not varied in the last 7 billion years, but more observations are still needed to settle the issue.

The controversy centres on the fine-structure constant, also called alpha, which governs how electrons and light interact. Alpha is an amalgam of other constants, including the speed of light. So any change in alpha implies a change in the speed of light – and indeed in the entire standard model of physics – with string theories touting extra spatial dimensions stepping in to fill the breach.

So it caused a sensation in 2001 when a team led by John Webb, an astrophysicist at the University of New South Wales in Australia, announced the constant had changed by about one part in 100,000 over 12 billion years. Webb’s team studied about 140 clouds of gas and dust that absorb light from distant, bright quasars. Subtle changes in the relative position of absorption lines from elements in the clouds’ spectra suggested alpha had changed over time.

But another team using higher-quality quasar absorption data, though fewer observations, failed to find any change in 2004. And different researchers studying a natural nuclear reactor in Oklo, Gabon in Africa have also come to opposing conclusions about alpha’s constancy.Slippery customer

John Bahcall, an astrophysicist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, US, helped pioneer quasar absorption studies in the 1960s, but he says this method can be slippery to interpret.

“The absorption line data is subject to misidentification of the lines and to the introduction of theoretical assumptions which may not be correct,” he told New Scientist. He adds that the spectral lines may be faint and can overlap, making it difficult to tell the lines’ source, and that astronomers must assume that all of the clouds share the same basic composition. Similarly, he says, interpreting the Oklo data involves making assumptions about other physical constants that might be subject to change.

Now, astronomers have used another method Bahcall developed to probe alpha. Rather than using absorption lines from clouds in space, a team led by Jeffrey Newman of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, US, has focused directly on a pair of emission lines from ionised oxygen in the galaxies themselves.

“With emission lines, you can choose systems that have a very strong, characteristic appearance and are isolated to be sure you have the right objects,” says Bahcall. And because the average wavelength of the light emitted by the oxygen ions is a direct measurement of alpha, he says, “the fine-structure constant pops out without any interpretation”.

Clean and simple

However, the new study cannot yet claim the precision of Webb’s result. Newman’s group used observations of 300 galaxies, lying between 4 billion and 7 billion light years away, to find that alpha has changed by no more than one part in 30,000 – the resolution limit of the data – in 7 billion years.

But Newman says the method is superior to the absorption line alternative, telling New Scientist: “It’s simpler, it’s cleaner, and to date people haven’t gotten contradictory results from it.”

Bahcall says the team has done an “absolutely superb job” and adds that more observations – including more distant galaxies – will improve the precision of the measurement still further.

Newman presented the results, from a survey of distant galaxies called DEEP2, at a meeting of the American Physical Society in Tampa, Florida, on Monday.

(Article from New Scientist published on 15:33 19 April 2005 by Maggie McKee at http://www.newscientist.com)

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Muslim who Used to Attack Christians and Burn Bibles is now a MISSIONARY, Thanks to a Powerful Encounter with God.

He hated Christians with such a passion he and his friends attacked them on their way to church and burned their Bibles. But two powerful encounters with God changed the course of his life.

 

(Source: Grace vine at http://gracevine.christiantoday.com)

Pastors Facing Death Sentence: ‘We’re Not Afraid’

Two South Sudanese pastors possibly facing execution in Sudan said they are not afraid to die. They’ve been charged with “inciting organized groups” and “offending Islamic beliefs.”

Pastors Yat Michael and David Yein spoke with Sr. International Correspondent George Thomas by phone from their Khartoum jail cell.

Sudan Graphic_zpsmjuo4hhhMichael said he has suffered psychological intimidation and hasn’t talked to his family for two months. He was accused of spying when he was arrested last January.

“When they interviewed me, they asked me why I’m preaching here. I say, ‘I am preaching because this is my call. I am a pastor. I must speak the Word of God,'” Michael told Thomas.

“They say ‘No, you don’t need to preach the Word of God with a hidden agenda,'” he recalled. “I said, ‘No, I don’t have any hidden agenda.’ They accused me because I’m a spy here. They say like that.”

Yein said he’s not afraid because God chose him to suffer. He wants Christians to pray that their imprisonment will be for God’s glory, and that both pastors will be at peace with those who oppose them.

On trial since May 19, they’ve been officially charged with “inciting organized groups” and “offending Islamic beliefs.”  Sudanese law (sharia) requires them to be executed if they are convicted.

Both Christians–who are from South Sudan–say they had no hidden agenda while visiting Khartoum; they were only answering God’s call to share the Word with the people of Sudan.

In an exclusive CBN News interview, Senior International Correspondent George Thomas talked to the two pastors via telephone from their Khartoum prison cell.

Sudanese-PastorsYat Michael told Thomas while he has not suffered physical beating during his imprisonment, he has experienced psychological intimidation. Also, he said it has been two months since he’s been allowed to talk with his family.

Speaking mostly in Arabic, David Yein told Thomas he is “not afraid of anything” because “God chose me to suffer.”
He asks that Christians pray that his suffering will “be for the glory of God” in the prison.

You may watch and listen to each interview here. I’ve also provided a transcript of both interviews and a translation of Yein’s comments which were spoken in Arabic:


TRANSCRIPT:

Reverend Yat Michael: We are fine thanks be to God. We were being here for five to six months since we were arrested. David Yein Was arrested 14th of December up to today. And I was arrested on 11 January up to today.

George Thomas: Have they done anything to you, have they beaten you, have they tried to intimidate you?

Yat Michael: No. They were…it was just only a psychologically incitement because we were being separated from our families for two months without hearing them. That was a tough problem to us.

We came from South Sudan and because of the war in South Sudan we came here in Sudan and we just go to go do our ministry training in our church and then they came to me-especially myself– they arrest me in my house. I don’t know why they do that. When they interviewed me, they asked me why I’m preaching here. I say I am preaching because this is my call. I am a pastor. I must speak the Word of God. They say no, you don’t need to preach the Word of God with a hidden agenda. I said no, I don’t have any hidden agenda. They accused me because I’m a spy here. They say like that.

George Thomas: How are you doing inside the prison, how is your faith?

Yat Michael: Yeah, it is my destination. My faith, I don’t, I don’t even I don’t have a sense of patience 15:28 I must call on my faith. It is not a new thing to me. They just keep us for nothing. They just keep us in the prison for nothing. And they are terrible to us. We are staying in, for confinement without any crime that we commit.

Reverend David Yein:

George: Are you afraid that you could be killed for this?

David Yein: No, I am not afraid of anything….I am never afraid of anything because it is my love, it is my being, because I believe. God chose me to suffer.

(Arabic translated to English)

I’m not afraid from doing my ministry and my message I’m chosen by God. I serve him in any circumstances, be instant in season, out of season.

George Thomas: I’m sure you miss your wives a lot…

David Yein: I missed her. We can’t be together because there is a legal restriction, but she sees me from the window, and she is sure that I’m here. I’m really here with a good condition, but I’m waiting to be outside.

George Thomas: Will you still continue to preach The Gospel?

David Yein: I preach and serve and I’m sending the message of the gospel to the whole world as the lord said: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

George Thomas: Have you had a chance to preach The Gospel in prison to other people?

David Yein: We have a church in the prison and we pray with the prisoners and the sentenced and the accused people.

George Thomas: Pastor, how can we pray for you, how can we pray for you and the other brother?

David Yein: We want you to pray that this test be for the glory of God in this place… and for us to be in peace with our people and the ones who are against us.

 

 

(Article from CBN News by Gary Lane at http://www.cbn.com)

Nun: ‘Islam Is ISIS. Whoever Says Otherwise Is a Liar’

WASHINGTON — The Islamic terror group ISIS is leaving a trail of destruction across large parts of Syria and Iraq with a specific target in their crosshairs.

Hundreds of thousands of Christians have been displaced from their homes and countless others have been murdered or enslaved by the jihadist army, with no end in sight.

Sister Hatune Dogan has been on the ground and witnessed the devastation of these ancient Christian communities. She’s listened to survivors tell how Christians and Yazidi women are being sold into sex slavery.

“They choose the most beautiful one, even if they have a small child, and they sell these women, these ladies to each other. They don’t sell to another religion — only Sunni Muslim,” Dogan said.

nun isis“There have been 12,000 kidnapped at the hands of ISIS – Yazidi alone. What is going on there, what I was hearing, is the highest barbarism on earth in the history until today,” she added.

Her foundation helps the poor and persecuted in 35 countries, providing them with food, clothing, medicine and shelter.

She travels constantly with a special focus in the Muslim world.

“I’m not coming here for a holiday. I’m coming here to bring a voice to the voiceless so that the world can hear their voice. They don’t have a voice. I am the channel for them. That is my mission,” Dogan declared.

Sister Dogan is no stranger to Islamic persecution. As a young girl, threats from local Muslims forced her family to leave their home in Turkey.

They relocated to Germany, where she operates her foundation and sounds the alarm about the gathering Islamic storm.

“The mission of (Abu Bakr) Baghdadi, of ISIS, is to convert the world completely to the Islamic religion and bring them to Dar Al Salaam, as they call it. And Islam is not peace, please. Whoever says ISIS has no connection to Islam or something like this is, he’s a liar. ISIS is Islam; Islam is ISIS,” Dogan explained.

She’s disappointed by what she calls a weak reaction from the West.

“We know that in Islam, there is no democracy. Islam and democracy are opposite, like black and white. And I hope America will understand. America today has the power that they can stop this disaster on the earth, with other Western countries,” she argued.

As for Sister Dogan, she says she’ll keep calling attention to the plight of followers of Jesus around the world whether the West wants to hear it or not.

(Article from CBN News by Erick Stakelbeck at http://www.cbn.com)

Second Chance From God – Benny Se Teo


Benny Se Teo considers himself a hardcore addict as he recalls those dark years when he was under the bondage of drugs and sins. He started taking drugs soon after he left school at 17. As a youngster, he was curious and eager to try new things. He always thought that he could quit any time when he got tired of it. His first brush against the law was in 1982 when he was caught for drug consumption at the age of 22. The judge was lenient then and he only had to pay a fine for the offence and to report to Teen Challenge for the rehabilitation programme. At Teen Challenge, he learned about Jesus and what He has done for us. Intending to change, he accepted Jesus as his saviour then.

Upon his completion of the programme in Teen Challenge, he went back to his old friends. Despite believing in Jesus, he still loved the world and refused to surrender his will to God. He was physically cleansed of drugs but mentally, he was still not ready to give it up altogether. Very soon, the temptation was too strong for him and he was on drugs again.

ST_20140414_LJBENNY_228337eIn 1983, Benny was caught again and this time, he was incarcerated. Upon his release, he went to another halfway house to continue his rehabilitation. But his craving for drugs was too strong for him and no sooner, he was hooked again. The vicious cycle continued and he was in and out of prison and drug rehabilitation centres numerous times for the next ten years. Each time he was released, he would go to a halfway house hoping that he could kick the habit. But most of the time, he would give up and run away from the halfway house. The story would then repeat all over again.

God intervened in 1993 when he was incarcerated in Selarang Park Drug Rehabilitation Centre. It seemed that there was a spiritual revival in the prison. His fellow inmates boldly professed and openly displayed their Christian faith. Sunday chapel services conducted by brothers from SANA CCS were well attended. It was something that he had never witnessed in those other times when he was there.

Then came news of other former drug addicts turning over a new leaf and started to lead a drug-free life. They were a great encouragement to all. One of them was Don Wong, whom Benny came to know when they were in prison together. Don had managed to break the bondage of drugs and was working towards being a pastor. Benny was thinking then: “If they can change by the grace of God, I am sure God can help me change too”.

His new resolve was not without challenge. When he was released from prison in 1993, he wondered whether any halfway house would take him in, given his bad recEastpoint12-51ords with all of them. But God opened the way for him. Robert Yeo, from The Helping Hands, not only opened his halfway house to him, he excused him from the mandatory programme for all released prisoners. In fact, he said, “As long as you are free from drugs, you can stay as long as you like.”

This kind act touched Benny. He thought he was a hopeless case and no one would believe him. But Robert’s faith in him showed him that God still loves him and cares about him despite what he had done.

But life was not easy for Benny. He could not find a job initially because of his records. But by God’s grace, he finally landed a job as a dispatch rider. He worked hard and stayed away from drugs, always remembering that others had trusted him and given him a second chance. After six years, he had saved enough to start his own courier service company.images

In 2005, he ventured into the food and beverages industry as cooking is his passion. To learn more about this industry, he got himself an internship at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant in London. When he came back to Singapore in 2007, he started his Eighteen Chefs restaurant. By 2009, he had expanded his business to 4 outlets island-wide.

Remembering how God has given him a chance and his difficulties in getting a job back in 1993, he vowed to help those ex-drug offenders who wanted to change. Whenever his company recruits new staff, he will always give job applicants with criminal records a more favourable consideration than others. In this way, he hopes to pass on to others the grace that he has received -just as Jesus said in Luke: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Lk 6:31.

May God continue to use Benny’s life and ministry to extend a helping hand to those ensnared by drug addiction.

(Article taken from Christian Counseling Services at http://www.ccslink.org)

Nepal Christians Return to Worship after Earthquake Turns Churches into Tombs

Nepal Christians Return to Worship after Earthquake Turns Churches into Tombs

Image: Anto Akkara – Catholic leader Paul Simick surveys wreckage of Pentecostal church in Kathmandu.

Maili Tamang clapped and sang along as the remnants of her husband’s Kathmandu church gathered for a noon prayer one week after a massive earthquake collapsed the “roof of the world.”
Injured pastor Jacob Tamang prays with survivors at Vision of Salvation church.

Image: Anto Akkara Injured pastor – Jacob Tamang prays with survivors at Vision of Salvation church.

“In God’s time, anything can happen,” the 55-year-old mother told CT. Tamang lost her husband Maila, her sister, and three other family members when Vision of Salvation church, which rented rooms in a four-story commerical building in the Swayambu area of Nepal’s capital, collapsed with 62 worshipers present. Seventeen members of the Pentecostal church, where Tamang’s husband served as an elder, died, including senior pastor Elia Ghale and his son.

“We cannot decide our future or what happens to us,” she said, surrounded by cracked walls. “Even after the world, we will be with God.”

Family of Maila Tamang mourns Saturday.

Image: Anto Akkara – Family of Maila Tamang mourns Saturday.

Tamang was worshiping at a nearby Pentecostal church when the quake struck.

“I was standing in a row near to the wall and praying when the trembling started. The pastor continued the prayer and suddenly, everything collapsed,” she told CT. “I was half conscious and could heard people screaming. After one hour I was pulled out. While lying there, I knew God would save me.”

Meanwhile, pledging to spread God’s love “even though earthquakes come,” a small evangelical church in Nepal completed on Saturday its worship song interrupted by last week’s natural disaster in the Himalayan Mountains.

Maili Tamang lost her husband Maila, her sister, and three other family members when Vision of Salvation church collapsed.

Image: Anto Akkara – Maili Tamang lost her husband Maila, her sister, and three other family members when Vision of Salvation church collapsed.

The first-hand account from the International Mission Board is one of many reports surfacing of how Nepal’s Christian minority is regrouping after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake collapsed many churches during their main weekly worship services.

Reporting by CT in Kathmandu reveals that an accurate tally of churches destroyed and Christians killed remains hard to come by, since anecdotal reports can be duplicated or exaggerated. But it is clear that many Christians died in their churches during weekly prayers. (The Baptist World Alliance reports about 150 Christian deaths have been confirmed.)

“I am getting reports of entire Christian families being wiped out in Kathmandu and outside,” Simon Pandey, chairman of the National Christian Fellowship of Nepal, told CT in an interview from his home in a Lalitpur suburb.

If the quake had occurred half an hour earlier, he noted, the casualties in churches would have been much higher. (Many Hindus died during worship services also.)

The wreckage of Elssadai church in Kathmandu.

Image: Global Mission Nepal – The wreckage of Elssadai church in Kathmandu.

“The evangelical churches have suffered terrible tragedies,” Kala Bahadur Rokaya, general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Nepal, told CT. “It will take time to count the deaths among Christians across Nepal. Many areas are still cut off.” He feared more bad news was yet to come from mountainous and remote districts such as Gorkha, Sindhupalchok, and Nuwakot, which have many evangelical churches.

Of Nepal’s Christians—which comprise between one and three percent of the country’s 30-million population—Protestants were disproportionately affected by the disaster, a Catholic leader told CT.

A destroyed Nepalese church.

Image: Thir K.C. – A destroyed Nepalese church.

The earthquake, which killed more than 6,000 people, damaged dozens of churches in and around Kathmandu, Nepal’s largest city. A partner of Wycliffe Associates filmed the aftermath.“The Catholics were lucky as we don’t have church prayers at noon,” Bishop Paul Simick told CT as he observed the wreckage of Vision of Salvation church. (CBN News also reports on the tragedy.)

(Article from Christianity Today by Morgan Lee at http://www.christianitytoday.com/)