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The Wise Scientists of Chelm and the Setting of the Sun

Sunday, November 13, 2011 @ 06:11 PM
posted by Roger Price
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NASA's Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope aboard ESA's SOHO spacecraft took this image of a huge, handle-shaped prominence in 1999. Prominences are huge clouds of relatively cool dense plasma suspended in the Sun's hot, thin corona.


Credit: ESA/NASA/SOHO (Published 2/17/2011)*

Some time ago, in the Old Country village of Chelm, the wise men were studying Torah. It was Shabbat B’reishit, or, as it was known in Chelm, Shabbes Breshis. The men — and it was just men — were focused on Chapter 1, Verses 14-18, where it is written that on the fourth day of the first biblical week God made two big lights, the Sun and the Moon, and set them in the expanse of the sky. They were trying to figure out how there could have been an evening and a morning on each of the three prior days without the Sun.

And then, as often happened in Chelm during such study sessions, and even occurs elsewhere I am told, one of the wise men veered off topic and asked a related, but distinctly different, question.

Observing that the Sun rose every day in the East and set every day in the West, every day, East and West, the Chelmer asked: “So, where does the Sun go at night?”

And no one knew.

The wise men started to consider, then to argue. They argued for hours.

They got nowhere. No one knew.

The wise men called in the wise scientists of Chelm. The wise scientists did not know either. So they started to consider and then to argue.

The wise scientists argued for more hours, past midnight, and then for even more hours. They were still getting nowhere.

And then . . .

finally . . .

it dawned on them!


Roger Price

(This one is for Wendy and Sunny. Keep shining.)

*This image of the Sun was taken by NASA’s Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope from ESA’s SOHO spacecraft on September 14, 1999. The image shows an immense prominence, or cloud of relatively cool, dense plasma, suspended in the Sun’s corona. On the Sun’s surface, the whiter areas are the hottest, while the dark red areas are relatively cooler.

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