The Spaceships of Ezekiel
Are there Flying Saucers in the Bible?


Other "Mysteries" - Part A


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Other "Mysteries"

(Part A)

Other "Mysteries" deals with miscellaneous "ancient astronaut", "weird science" and biblical issues, in no particular order.



Pyramids and the value of PI.


It has been demonstrated that the height-to-base ratio of the Egyptian pyramids is related to the number PI, the ratio of the diameter of a circle to its circumference, which is 3.14159. Various people claim that this is evidence that  an advanced civilization helped build the pyramids.

In the 1990's an engineer who became interested in the pyramids discovered that the Egyptians used two types of  "cubits" (a length of measurement, like a foot or a yard): a "linear" cubit and a "rolled" cubit. A linear cubit was probably about 18" long (the length of an average man's forearm). If you took a wheel whose diameter was one cubit, put a mark on the wheel and rolled the wheel one revolution, the distance covered was a rolled cubit. Because the ratio of the wheel diameter to the wheel circumference will equal PI, the two measurements had the same ratio. There was nothing futuristic about it.



Egyptians standing 80-ton obelisks on end without machinery


It is often claimed that the ancient Egyptians must have had help from ancient astronauts, etc., because there is no way to stand 80-ton oblesks on end without heavy equipment. In fact, some Egyptian obelisks weigh us to 300 tons! To give you a comparison, a fully-loaded 40-foot shipping container weighs about 26.5 tonnes.  (1 tonne is 2,200 lbs or 1,000 kg. 1 ton is 2,000 lbs.) Imagine trying to stand up 10 shipping containers at the same time without machines!

Three simple tools convert distance into force, in effect multiplying the force applied by the distance: the pulley, hydraulics and the fulcrum and lever. The first two were unknown in ancient Egypt.

In each case, force times distance equals the work done in foot-pounds. Consider an 11-foot lever with the fulcrum placed one foot from one end. If someone applies 50 pounds of force  and moves the long end four feet, he has done 200 foot-pounds of work. The short end of the lever will only move one-tenth as much. Because energy cannot be created or destroyed, the total foot-pounds on each side of the fulcrum must be the same. So, instead of pushing with 50 pounds, the one-foot section pushes with 50 x 10 = 500 pounds of force. Distance was divided by 10 and force was multiplied by 10.

But using a lever to lift an 80 ton oblesk would require an incredibly long and extremely strong lever, so that obviously was not how it was done.

It took engineers quite awhile to figure this out but it was finally demonstrated on the PBS program Nova.

Egyptians did not have sophisticated machinery but they had lots and lots and lots of manpower. They built a ramp up to where they wanted the oblesk to stand ("the location"). Let's assume a 60-foot oblesk. Then they built a sand box with its edge more than 30 feet from the location and filled it with sand. They then rolled the base of the oblesk over the location and opened holes in the sides of the sandbox. As the sand drained out, the oblesk would gradually fall into position. By controlling the sand they could control the placement extremely precisely. Once the oblesk was positioned, they removed the ramp and the sand box.

And probably stood around bragging, "Let's see 'em figure out how we did that without machinery! They'll probably say it was "space aliens" or something!"



NASA did not find Joshua's long day.


In the land of Canaan (in modern-day Israel), Jericho was a city inhabited by a tribe called the Jebusites. According to the Bible, the protective walls around the city fell and the Israelites under Joshua attacked the city and destroyed it. Archaeologists have confirmed that the walls did fall, probably by an earthquake. The city was conquered.

Also according to the Bible, God made the sun stand still, so the day was almost twice the length of normal day.

For years a rumor has circulated that in the 1960's NASA found a "double-length" day while doing computer calculations of trajectories  for spacecraft. A man named Harold Hill, former President of Curtis Engine Company, claimed that he obtained information "from a reliable source" that the rumor was true but that he subsequently lost the documentation. In the early 1970's NASA did an investigation and found no one who knew anything about the alleged incident. This page from details the origins of this myth.



Charles Berlitz's plane flying through the Bermuda Triangle


In his book on the Bermuda Triangle, Charles Berlitz talks about a plane that had a "very weird" experience while flying through the Bermuda Triangle. All of a sudden its wings started glowing and the compass went crazy.

The phenomenon Berlitz described is corona discharge. If you move an insulator such as plastic through a static electric field, a static electric charge will build up on the insulator. A moving electric field generates a magnetic field, which will move the compass.

Ordinary weather conditions commonly create electrically charged areas. Lightning is caused by an electrical buildup in clouds. Flying through an area prior to or after a thunderstorm would put a charge on the wings. If it builds up enough it will glow. In centuries past, sailors sometimes saw this happen with the masts of large ships and they referred to it as "St. Elmo's Fire" . Also, the charge is not constant. As it varies it will create an electromagnetic field that can affect a compass.



Walking barefoot on hot coals


If you're stupid enough to risk trying this, don't blame me if you get burned!

There is nothing supernatural about walking barefoot on hot coals without getting hurt. Any person in reasonably good health can do it. If anyone claims they have any special powers, etc., ask them to stand on hot coals for one minute. I heard  this explained by a physics professor on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He demonstrated the walking with a bunch of ordinary physics students.

Imagine that you have been baking a cake at 350ºF (176ºC) for an hour. What is the temperature of the metal pan holding the cake?

Obviously, 350º.

What is the temperature of the air in the oven? Also,   350º.

If you open the oven and grab the pan with your hand you'll get burned, since the pan is 350º.

But if you just put your hand into the air, which is also at 350º, you won't get burned! Why?

The metal pan—which is a good conductor of heat—holds more heat energy than the air—which is a poor heat conductor. The air only can transfer a little heat energy to your hand.

What does this have to do with hot coals? Hot coals develop a layer of ash. Ash is an extremely poor conductor of heat. If you walk fast across a bed of hot coals, most of the time your feet are in cool air. When they are not, they are touching ash, which does not have much energy. If you stand on the coals you will get burned.

The professor said he was aware of one incident where a "guru" told a bunch of people they could walk on hot coals without injury and they did, but a person who was partially lame walked at a much slower rate and was severely burned.

In early 2009 the television show Mythbusters had an episode where several members also walked barefoot on coals.



Spontaneous Human Combustion  [1]


Over probably the past 100 years, there have been a few  reports of people who burned to death in closed rooms on top of rugs, etc.   In each case, there appeared to be no source of fire, the  room basically showed almost no evidence of fire, and the body was reduced to a fine ash-like powder, except for: (1)  the feet and the legs below the calf muscles, (2)  the hands from about three inches above the wrist, and (3)  the head.

It is a "dirty little secret" of the cremation industry that normal wood or coal fires are not hot enough to burn human bones. After a human body is cremated, the bones are crushed with special equipment. Because of this and because the people often died on top of flammable materials that had not been burned, there has long been speculation that this is somehow supernatural, that these people just "burst into flame"—some sort of supernatural flame that can even turn bones to ash.

In August 1998, scientists finally proved that the phenomenon observed is an extremely rare, although totally natural occurrence. A demonstration was shown in a show on BBC television. Let's be clear about this—they set up the appropriate conditions and actually showed on camera a body burning with the wick effect.

Scientists often use pig carcasses for certain tests because they have about the same ratio of fat to non-fat as humans and the composition of their flesh is quite similar to humans.

Basically, what happens is called the wick effect. How come when you light a candle, the wick does not burn until all the wax around it has burned?

Candle wax is basically a type of fat. The heat melts the wax and capillary action causes the melted wax to travel up the wick, where it burns, fueling the flame.

The people who died all had some kind of cloth on them (e.g., a woolen sweater) that functioned as a wick. As the fat in the body melted from the heat, it fueled the fire. Like a candle wick, the flame does not get very high, generally 6-18 inches. Hence, there is very little of the damage to the room normally expected from a fire.

A wick-type fat fire burns slow and extremely hot. As the bones are subjected to intense heat for extended periods, they gradually decompose and become powdery. Because crematoria are commercial operations, they do not leave bodies in fires for hours. Because the wick-type fires burn slowly, they do not use up all the oxygen in the room like a big fire would.

So why don't the feet burn? Those have a much lower percentage of fat, not enough to melt and keep the flame going in that area.

In the show, they took a carcass, wrapped it in cloth and set a small portion of the blanket on fire—as you might find  with someone falling asleep while smoking. The fat in the carcass started to melt and there was a very hot steady flame only a few inches high, that burned for more than 7 hours. Eventually the bones were reduced to a powdery ash.

As mentioned, this is quite rare. If a bit more of the cloth is exposed to flame, the entire cloth quickly starts burning, the skin starts on fire and a much more common "big fire" results, instead of the wick effect.

    [1] Note: There has been one reported case where a person was observed literally starting on fire. The person was undergoing stomach surgery and when he was cut open a fire started. It is known that the normal digestive process generates small amounts of methane gas, which is indeed flammable. Doctors believe that some gas in the patient's digestive tract got released and was ignited by a small spark from equipment in the room. Before the wick effect was successfully demonstrated, amateur investigators who assume some kind of "weird" source of "spontaneous human combustion" frequently pointed to this isolated case as "proof" that the (previously) theoretical "wick effect" was not the cause.



Lying on a bed of nails


If you're stupid enough to risk trying this, don't blame me if you get cut!

The physics professor on the Tonight Show explained that this is another example of basic  physics. The nails are ordinary nails such as 10-penny nails, spaced close together, around one inch (2.54 cm) apart. Because the weight of the body is evenly distributed over many nails, the amount of force each individual nail exerts against the skin is quite low, low enough to not break the skin. If the nails were placed several inches apart the person would be severely injured. (A 10-penny nail, abbreviated 10d,  is 3 inches (7.6 cm) long and 0.148 inches (3.76 mm) in diameter.)

Body Surface Area Calculator

An adult male 5'10" , weight 180 lbs (1.78 meters, 81.6 kg) has a body surface area of roughly 2.0 square meters or 3,100 square inches. If 39.5% (to simplify calculation) of that touches a surface when lying on his back that is 1,225 square inches (0.8 sq meters).

Adjusting that to a square body to simplify calculations gives roughly 35 inches (0.89 meters) per side.

The number of nails is (Row inches + 1) times (Column inches + 1) = 36 x 36 = 1,296 nails

English: 180 lbs distributed over 1,296 nails is 0.14 lbs per nail, or 2.24 ounces per nail.

Metric: 81.6 kg ÷ 1,296 = 63 grams per nail, about the weight of 12 U.S. nickels and one penny.



Jesus sweating blood


The New Testament says at Luke 22:44 that the night before he was crucified, Jesus was so anguished that he literally sweat blood. Many non-Christians have wasted  extensive amounts of effort trying to prove this impossible.

The truth is that there have been about 100 such cases reported, including in the  medical literature. The condition is called hematidrosis or hematohidrosis. When a person is in incredible fear, adrenalin levels increase substantially. Extremely high adrenalin levels massively increase blood pressure. Blood is distributed to cells throughout the body, including the sweat glands,  by capillaries, extremely thin  blood vessels. If blood pressure is high enough, some capillaries will rupture, allowing blood to get mixed directly with sweat and to be excreted with the sweat.

The best-known modern case was a Roman Catholic nun who was told she was going to be executed shortly.