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If you thought space was empty

February 13, 2011

… think again!

APOD from NASA 12 Feb 2011: Simeis 147: Supernova Remnant
Credit & Copyright: Nobuhiko Miki

It’s easy to get lost following the intricate filaments in this detailed mosaic image of faint supernova remnant Simeis 147.

Also cataloged as Sh2-240 and seen towards the constellation Taurus, it covers nearly 3 degrees (6 full moons) on the sky. That corresponds to a width of 150 light-years at the stellar debris cloud’s estimated distance of 3,000 light-years.

The remarkable composite includes image data taken through narrow-band filters to highlight emission from hydrogen and oxygen atoms tracing regions of shocked, glowing gas.

This supernova remnant has an estimated age of about 40,000 years – meaning light from the massive stellar explosion first reached Earth 40,000 years ago.

But this expanding remnant is not the only aftermath. The cosmic catastrophe also left behind a spinning neutron star or pulsar, all that remains of the original star’s core.

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City concept

October 4, 2010

The self-contained city of Masdar (under construction) is a beautiful concept. It reminds me a bit of the city and landscape of heaven. The only problem with building this on earth is SIN. Still, it’s fascinating and intriguing, a place I’d certainly like to tour one day.

In Arabian Desert, a Sustainable City Rises
New York Times 27 Sept 2010

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Back in 2007, when the government here announced its plan for “the world’s first zero-carbon city” on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, many Westerners dismissed it as a gimmick — a faddish follow-up to neighboring Dubai’s half-mile-high tower in the desert and archipelago of man-made islands in the shape of palm trees.

Designed by Foster & Partners, a firm known for feats of technological wizardry, the city, called Masdar, would be a perfect square, nearly a mile on each side, raised on a 23-foot-high base to capture desert breezes. Beneath its labyrinth of pedestrian streets, a fleet of driverless electric cars would navigate silently through dimly lit tunnels. The project conjured both a walled medieval fortress and an upgraded version of the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland.

Well, those early assessments turned out to be wrong. By this past week, as people began moving into the first section of the project to be completed — a 3 ½-acre zone surrounding a sustainability-oriented research institute — it was clear that Masdar is something more daring and more noxious.

Norman Foster, the firm’s principal partner, has blended high-tech design and ancient construction practices into an intriguing model for a sustainable community, in a country whose oil money allows it to build almost anything, even as pressure grows to prepare for the day the wells run dry. And he has worked in an alluring social vision, in which local tradition and the drive toward modernization are no longer in conflict — a vision that, at first glance, seems to brim with hope.

Click on the link to read entire the article and associated media – fascinating.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/26/arts/design/26masdar.html?_r=1&src=mv

Here’s a video aerial fly-through of the city:

Here’s a full-length video with voice narration:

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New York, New Jersey, New Earth

June 24, 2010

I was thinking about the verses in Matthew 24 (35), Mark 13 (31) and Luke 21 (33) that I tend to skip over — the ones that say heaven and earth will pass away — when the Holy Spirit said out of the blue, “Think New York.”

I had been thinking about this planet being devastated, the mountains lowered, valleys raised, oceans evaporated, plant and animal life dead and rotted, even the elements melted. And wondering how long it would take to make parts of it habitable again, after Jesus brought us all back again. What a mess to clean up.

I Thessalonians 4:15-17 says those believers still alive when he returns will meet the resurrected dead ones in the sky. Some people believe we’ll all be in heaven for a while after that (7 years, or maybe 3-1/2 years), then be brought back with Jesus after he wins the last big battle with his enemies.

But I wonder about that – why bring the two divisions of Christians together in the air, one being the spirits of deceased believers coming down from heaven to reunite with their reconstructed physical remains, the other being the live believers going to heaven without having to die first?

It makes more sense to me if the two are meeting simply because Jesus is collecting the whole group to move us somewhere safe here on the planet earth. And after that, we’ll have a thousand years to learn how to manage the planet the right way, considering the lousy job human beings have done of that so far.

But those verses about heaven and earth passing away — and II Peter 3:10 about the very elements burning up — is that before or after the thousand years of peace? I haven’t made up my mind about the timetable.

In any case, I have thought all along, whenever I thought about it, that the new heaven (atmosphere, air) and new planet would be located right on top of the old ones. Archeologists often find cities built atop ruins of former cities, sometimes three or four cities deep as they dig. That’s the way I always thought, until the other day.

“Think New York,” he said. Hmmm.

New York was not constructed on top of the old, original York. It’s not even in the same continent. Likewise New Jersey. They are very distant, completely removed from the old country. They were built new, in a new country, on a new continent. A fresh start, just with reminiscent, memorial names.

New Earth. Different solar system? Different galaxy? A city called New Jerusalem comes down out of heaven, it says in Revelation 21, and settles on New Earth. City… or city-shaped ship…? Headquarters, moving from heaven onto New Earth.

Interesting to think about.

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May 14

May 15, 2010

Bertha and Harold Motte with Betty and Harold Jr., Spring 1947.


Daddy died May 14, 1960. It was the night of my Junior-Senior dance at McClenaghan High School. I was a junior, only 16 years old. Daddy died of a heart attack in the night, after I had come home from the dance, told him goodnight and went to bed.

I still miss him, but these days I picture him working on some piece of machinery, a motor or engine, but something far more high-tech than the Singer sewing machines he worked on at home and at Sears, or the airplane engines he worked on in WWII. He was in the Army Air Corps, before the Air Force was made a separate branch.

I can just see my daddy Harold and Tim’s daddy T.C. head to head, collaborating on something or other in a workshop in heaven. T.C. Cox also worked on airplane engines during the war, as a member of the National Guard or Reserves. That home service was mandatory in the war, not voluntary as it is today. They didn’t know each other here on earth, but somehow I’m sure they know each other now.

It has been sixty years now since daddy was transferred from earth to heaven but sometimes it seems like just the other day. I love you, daddy.

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Cloud room

March 29, 2010

I asked God a question one night. Are there any other “people” – not human beings, not angels or demons, but some other intelligent species – in heaven? *

I didn’t really expect an answer.

Having read a great deal of science fiction growing up, and now reading about space scientists and astronomers discovering myriads of new galaxies they never suspected before, it seemed illogical to me and to many other people to suppose no other intelligent creatures existed anywhere.

And if they did, in whatever universe or dimension they call home, do they have religions, some version of right and wrong, conscience, awareness of sin or knowledge of God?

“Is that one question or many?” he responded. “Is that a serious question?”

Well, if we can actually discuss this, yes, it is a serious question, I said. If they exist, are some of them in heaven?

“Yes. Next question?”

In a phone conversation recently, my son commented that my descriptions of heaven are all from a physics-physical human viewpoint. Yes, up to now I have limited my descriptions here to the easily describable.

But I do understand why apostles John and Paul and prophet Ezekiel had such trouble describing what they saw and heard. Why some of those things were “unlawful” for them to share with others.

How do you describe a cloud room?

One of my follow-up questions had to do with whether it was possible to interact with non-human species in heaven who do not look, speak, understand, exist, operate, move, breathe — in other words, who do not function in any way, shape or form like human beings.

Angels good and bad are spirit beings who can appear in physical form. They can exist in our dimension, our galaxy, our universe. Sometimes they look like ordinary people. Sometimes they look like scary supernatural creatures, but interaction with them isn’t a problem for human beings.

But suppose an entity moved an inch a year when crossing a room? Or was composed of atoms so far apart that their arm was a thousand miles long and invisible to the human eye? Or their lifespan was a fraction of a second, in human time?

Suppose they had a crystalline structure and looked like a hunk of rock or grain of sand? Or had a plant-like form such as algae, or existed only in liquid or fire?

Suppose when they spoke, even if the language could be translated, the sound resembled the mere memory of an echo?

God didn’t say or show me what any of them looked like or operated like so I have no real idea. But he did tell me that the differences made ordinary interaction impossible, therefore he had created what I call a cloud room.

Now, it’s not an actual cloud or even a room; it’s an inter-dimensional area that somehow obliterates the differences between species and makes communication feasible. Cloud room is the closest I could come to describing that place.

It removes horror, and repugnance, and even morbid curiosity. It suspends the barriers of time and size and space in order that learning can occur. The only reason for its existence is discovery and education, innovation and invention.

He gave me a glimpse of this location, and all I can say is – it was like extremely nearsighted me looking at something or someone at a distance without my glasses. Nothing focuses. Everything’s blurry.

Not everything I have seen and heard of heaven can be described in purely physical, human terms. This is one example, and one reason why I don’t include some other things here. But I thought it was fascinating.

———————————–

* FYI – I’m not going to argue theological questions this question and answer is bound to raise with some.

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“Light be…” still being

March 20, 2010

From http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/

The immense Andromeda galaxy, also known as Messier 31 or simply M31, is captured in full in this new image from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. The mosaic covers an area equivalent to more than 100 full moons, or five degrees across the sky. WISE used all four of its infrared detectors to capture this picture (3.4- and 4.6-micron light is colored blue; 12-micron light is green; and 22-micron light is red). Blue highlights mature stars, while yellow and red show dust heated by newborn, massive stars.

Andromeda is the closest large galaxy to our Milky Way galaxy, and is located 2.5 million light-years from our sun. It is close enough for telescopes to spy the details of its ringed arms of new stars and hazy blue backbone of older stars. Also seen in the mosaic are two satellite galaxies, known as M32, located just a bit above Andromeda to the left of center, and the fuzzy blue M110, located below the center of the great spiral arms. These satellites are the largest of several that are gravitationally bound to Andromeda.

The Andromeda galaxy is larger than our Milky Way and contains more stars, but the Milky Way is thought to perhaps have more mass due to its larger proportion of a mysterious substance called dark matter. Both galaxies belong to our so-called Local Group, a collection of more than 50 galaxies, most of which are tiny dwarf systems. In its quest to map the whole sky, WISE will capture the entire Local Group.

This infrared image taken by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, shows a star-forming cloud teeming with gas, dust and massive newborn stars. The inset reveals the very center of the cloud, a cluster of stars called NGC 3603. It was taken in visible light by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

WISE, which is surveying the whole sky in infrared light, is particularly sensitive to the warm dust that permeates star-forming clouds like this one. In this way, WISE complements visible-light observations.

The mission also complements Hubble and other telescopes by showing the ‘big picture,” providing context for more detailed observations. For example, the WISE picture here is 2,500 times larger than the Hubble inset. While the Hubble view shows the details of the hot young star cluster, the WISE picture shows the effects that this stellar powerhouse has on its neighborhood.

The cluster contains some of the most massive stars known. Winds and radiation from the stars are evaporating and dispersing the cloud material from which they formed, warming the cold dust and gas surrounding the central nebula. This greenish “halo” of warm cloud material is seen best by WISE due to its large field of view and improved sensitivity over past all-sky infrared surveys.

These WISE observations provide circumstantial evidence that the massive stars in the center of the cluster triggered the formation of younger stars in the halo, which can be seen as red dots. The dust at the center of the cluster is very hot, producing copious amounts of infrared light, which results in the bright, yellow cores of the nebulosity.

Ultimately, this turbulent region will be blasted apart by supernova explosions. Other star-forming clouds in the Milky Way have experienced such eruptions, as evidenced by their pockmarked clouds of expanding cavities and bubbles.

Massive star clusters like this one are an important link to understanding the details of the violent original epoch of massive star formation in the early, distant universe. Astronomers also use them to study distant starbursts that occur when galaxies collide, lighting up tremendous firestorms of brilliant, but ephemeral, stars in the wreckage. Because NGC 3603 is so close, it is an excellent lab for the study of such faraway and momentous events.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The mission’s principal investigator, Edward Wright, is at UCLA. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

More information is online at http://www.nasa.gov/wise and http://wise.astro.ucla.edu.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
Image Addition Date: 2010-02-17

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Meet Joe Black

February 24, 2010

I watched “Meet Joe Black” several times recently, the last half one day on cable and the first half another day, then going out to buy the DVD at Barnes and Noble so I could watch it as a whole, the entire three hours straight through.

Death, i.e. the angel of death (played by Brad Pitt) is a bit bored doing the same thing day after day, collecting souls and escorting them to their next assigned habitat. He doesn’t decide where that is to be, mind you, he merely serves as an escort. Here’s what Wikipedia says about the movie:

Meet Joe Black is a 1998 romantic drama produced by Universal Studios and starring Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins and Claire Forlani, loosely based on the 1934 film Death Takes a Holiday. The film is about media mogul Bill Parrish who becomes a guide to the angel of Death, who takes the form of a young man to learn about life on Earth and in the process, falls in love with Bill’s daughter Susan.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meet_Joe_Black

In the plot, Death becomes curious about this man Bill Parrish, wondering what his daily life on earth is like. After all, he never gets to see anything but the last few moments of anyone’s life.

Knowing the time is approaching for Bill’s demise, Death comes to Bill’s home and offers him a deal: make me welcome for as long as I like, and you can have extra time on earth. Just one thing – you can’t tell anyone who I really am. Bill agrees, and introduces him to the family as Joe Black. After all, Bill says, “If I tell them who you really are, I don’t think anyone will stay for dinner.”

Since he needed a human body to live in on earth, Death had selected a pleasant young man, nice looking, who was killed in an unfortunate accident – hit by a car while crossing the street.

“Coincidentally,” that young man had just met Susan Parrish, the daughter of his chosen research project, and Susan had been somewhat enchanted by him. An ensuing romance between Susan and Joe is intertwined into the story line – which complicates life, and death, for both of them.

One critic gave the movie a bad review. He assumed angels are “all knowing,” and since Joe Black didn’t act “all knowing,” it wasn’t a very good portrayal by Brad Pitt. I disagreed. God is all knowing, angels aren’t.

I thought Brad Pitt’s portrayal was very apt, more or less the way I would have written it. If an angel wants to investigate life as a human being on earth, it’s because he isn’t all knowing. He learns as he goes, about family, business, character – and love. Having fallen in love with Susan, at one point he determines to take Susan with them also, when it is time to take Bill Parrish. A horrified Bill persuades him not to do that.

At the end of the film when it’s time for Bill to die, he asks Joe, “Should I be afraid?” “Not a man like you,” Joe replies. They walk across a little bridge, out of sight and into eternity.

And then the other Joe Black – the young man killed in the car crash – walks back across the bridge to where Bill’s daughter Susan is standing, gazing toward the bridge.

Seeing Joe and her father walk away together, she had fully realized Joe’s true identity as the angel of Death. She knew Joe had to leave her, because it was time for her father to die.

But as a sign of his understanding, Death has not left her completely alone. The original “Joe” has been brought back to life for Susan, to get to know and perhaps fall in love with, as she had done with him.

It was a good ending.

A thought about Joe Black’s line, “Not a man like you.” A man gets into heaven, with or without an angel escort, only because of Jesus.

A born-again Bill Parrish is the sort of man who is truly busy in heaven, designing and building and accomplishing and enjoying every minute of it.

I liked this movie. I’ll probably watch it again.

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Yes

January 17, 2010

This afternoon I asked myself, do I need to keep writing this blog?

Yes, I do still learn more and more about heaven as the days and weeks go by. Yes, the Lord still humors my curiosity and answers my specific questions. Occasionally he just tells me something without my first asking a question.

Yes, the more I learn, the more… confident? sure? settled? … I am in my own mind about the future. Not sure of events, their order or their time-table, just sure of the eventual outcome.

Yes, my amazement and thirst for more information has increased over these months. That probably won’t change.

Yes, my humility has also increased. Who am I to receive this kind of information? Well, the Lord just says I’m his daughter and that’s reason enough. I asked for it, didn’t I? He didn’t mind my asking and he didn’t mind my knowing, he says.

So, the answer is yes. Yes, I should keep writing, yes, I should keep asking and listening, yes, I should stay interested, curious, excited, watchful, prayerful, about heaven. Its descriptions, activities, inhabitants, purpose, position, location, physicality, everything. And so I will.

I don’t think I’ve written much about the societal and cultural communities that I’ve seen. Some people who lived and died in one century, say 200 BC, congregate together in a community, like a village. Their architecture, furnishings, clothing, music, etc. resemble what they experienced in 200 BC to a degree. Likewise with people from 500 BC, or 1200 AD. (And others don’t, preferring to experiment with something totally different from what they knew on earth.)

Some people from one part of the world may congregate with some others from that part of the world. North Americans with North Americans, Pacific Islanders with Pacific Islanders, for example.

It’s not a matter of segregation, it’s a matter of taste. Familiarity. Comfort. Interests. However, people move around all the time. They move from one dwelling and cultural habitat to another, sometimes many miles away. They may even trade houses with someone else.

That doesn’t mean these homes aren’t fully “modern,” technologically speaking. They are, but sometimes it’s more or less invisible.

The people of heaven are continually meeting newcomers, keeping up-to-date with the world and current events, technology and scientific advances in every area, as well as learning what they need to know about the future. God doesn’t want people here to be ignorant and he doesn’t want people there to be ignorant either.

(Some sort of training or educational classes are going on all the time. There are multitudes of schools, colleges, universities, workshops, libraries, museums, galleries, and laboratories.)

Thinking about the different housing styles just in my own lifetime and location, one evening I was “taken on a little tour” of various residential areas in heaven.

I saw one compound where the house had no exterior walls at all, just a roof. The grounds were spacious but sparsely planted, not landscaped like a southern house might be. There were a number of rooms under the roof, each with a specific focus and each one opening into another. It was airy and light, happy and cheerful.

How do you keep sand and dust out? Since there was no actual lawn, there was what looked like ordinary dirt surrounding the house. And while there is no destructive weather there are breezes.

Here is where some of the more modern conveniences are put to work. There is a transparent air barrier around the perimeter of the house. I think I’ve mentioned it before, sometimes used instead of glass in windows. You can walk right through it but sand or grit can’t blow into the rooms unless you track it in on your feet.

Another structure I saw was several stories tall with very distinctive rooms, elaborate furnishings and draperies. It looked somewhat like an English manor house with a real yard, bushes and flowers. It looked comfortable and inviting.

Then there was the building underground where many people lived. From the outside it seemed only one story tall but it went down many, many levels. The housing units were different sizes, shapes and configurations.

Residents came and went by way of vertical shafts, like elevator shafts without the elevator cars. You stepped into “thin air” and went up or down, whichever way you needed, similar to what I had seen earlier in a downtown building.

Wide hallways, well lighted and well decorated, went every direction. Large lobbies with seating areas broke up the hallways.

Who lives here, I wondered? People who don’t feel a need to have open spaces, gardens or verandas, was the answer. Some were babies or young children when they arrived and have no memories of their earth homes. They have no sentimental attachments to above-ground locales, so once they are ready to live on their own, they chose to live here. (Where they lived in heaven before that point is another fascinating story.)

These residents do travel above ground, visit relatives and friends, go to work, worship or shop (that’s an odd term, considering you don’t actually purchase anything), but when it’s time to be at home, this is where they are.

There are so many varieties of homes, ranging from small cottages to sprawling compounds and everything in between!

One thing I know. There is always something interesting to see, interesting to learn, interesting to ask and explore and investigate about heaven.

Like all the museums and art galleries… libraries and universities… concert halls… worship centers… laboratories studying the properties and uses of light and sound for travel and transport…

Think about this: If you could travel around the world, ask and explore and investigate all the interesting things that exist right now here on earth, how long would that take? Hmmm.

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Immortal – why I like the Twilight saga

December 21, 2009

During the 1000 year period when Jesus is governing the planet, will heaven still exist? Will it be occupied by anyone or anything? If everyone in heaven up to that point returns to earth with Jesus, that is. That point hasn’t been cleared up for me yet, because some people in heaven might still be young children and bringing them back to a war zone doesn’t seem logical to me.

While thinking about that several other questions came up.

Who will be alive on earth when Jesus returns? Unchanged, mortal human beings. Men, women and children. Believers and non-believers.

What will happen to them when they die? And die they will, surely. The new heaven and new earth don’t merge into one until after that 1000 years, the way I read Revelation. The laws of physics that operate here on earth now, will no doubt operate here on earth during that time span. So, people will be born into physical bodies which eventually die. Since the present heaven was created for body-less believers, I think it will be necessary for a while yet.

When the believers in heaven return to earth with Jesus, what will they be like? Well, the mortals will have put on immortality; their bodies will be changed as Jesus’ earthly body was changed. Their new immortal physical abilities will be like his abilities.

When I read the Twilight books for the first time, what I liked the most wasn’t the good-guy vampires versus the bad-guy vampires story line, or the romance story line. It was the vampires’ physical transformation from mortal to immortal, with the resulting new abilities permitting them to survive in a hostile environment.

I’ve read many vampire stories this year and watched several television series, since getting interested in Twilight. I noted major and minor differences in the authors’ concepts, vampire abilities and weaknesses, even transformation methods. I’ve read opinion pieces on why most Christians don’t like the stories. And what people have believed or not believed throughout history — do these creatures exist? Are they totally myth, imaginary, or not?

One thing I know from personal experience, the supernatural isn’t fiction. This planet we inhabit has more than human inhabitants, and I don’t mean plants and animals that are visible to the eye. I’ve met a few of them and they are not pleasant. They are hostile. They don’t like the fact that we’re here and that Jesus plans to set up his headquarters here, permanently. And one really important fact about them: they are immortal, already.

I like Twilight because the stories give me a glimpse of what being an immortal good guy in a hostile environment might be like in the future. Training goes on in heaven today, training of immortal human beings to fight and defeat non-human immortals one future day here on earth. As I read about special gifts of individual vampires and about the unique ability that Bella had to train in using, I saw a similarity.

Of course these books have been somewhat sanitized. Vicious, inhuman, horrible combat and torture is not described graphically, yet it does go on in the world and will in the future. I don’t need to have it described in bloody detail to know about it and I’m glad the author didn’t include those details. There’s enough about the conflict, mortal versus immortal, immortal versus immortal, to earn my interest and my appreciation.

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No More Night – Yes!

December 17, 2009