I had minor surgery yesterday to remove a large and still growing lipoma from my neck. Because of placement near the spine the Dr. wanted to use a general anesthesia rather than a local – he didn’t know how much ‘teasing’ (that’s the word he used – read cutting, gouging, tugging) he might have to do to clean the thing out to its roots and how those roots might or might not be attached to the spine. It tuned out not to be attached to the spine but ran deep into muscle tissue so the ‘teasing’ left me a little ouchy. But, praise God I am back up and about – with limitations like no lifting more than 20 pounds and as little turning my neck as possible. On most counts I might as well stay home and watch TV! But I figure I can write this blog! So, OK, anesthesia – a wonderful invention allowing all manner of medical benefits (I read the account of George Rogers Clark’s leg amputation!). Here’s what I can tell you. Local anesthesia (lidocaine, etc.) works slowly on me. I have had to persuade a few Doctors that I really do know the difference between pressure and pain and that if they will just wait another couple minutes – we’ll get there. General Anesthesia, on the other hand, works extremely well and VERY quickly on me. I have not had a lot of procedures requiring general anesthesia (one that should have – but that’s another story): a hernia repair a long time ago. Mostly I have had colonoscopies (age!) for which the professionals assured me I would not really be out – just a twilight groggy kind of thing which would even allow me to answer questions. Well, let me tell you – the last thing I ever remember is thinking it hurt when the anesthesia came through the IV tube into my arm. The next thing is usually a dim awareness that someone is fussing at my wife ‘This office needs to close – can’t you get him to wake up?!) If forced to wake up quickly from anesthesia – there needs to be a receptacle for the contents of my stomach available. So this time I told the intake nurse, the surgical nurse, the anesthesiologist and the surgeon in turn of this issue. They all assured me I would not really be out. ‘Oh yes I will!’ I said. By the time I got to the anesthesiologist who was even more inclined to argue the point I said I would bet him $100 on the matter. He finally agreed to start off easy and see what happened but figured really that I would end up with the normal dosage. While they were positioning me for the surgery I remember thinking very briefly that my are hur…. Later, when I started to wake up in recovery – which I did because the anesthesiologist stopped with a lighter dose – the recovery nurse commented – ‘You really are a lightweight!’ OK. I’ll take the abuse sooner than be over-anesthetized any day! There is a difference in general and specific knowledge. I don’t know a lot about anesthesia generally. I do know my own history with it very well. There are lots of things I don’t know in the fields of theology, ecclesiology, hermeneutics and so forth. But I know my own history with Jesus Christ very well. At the end of the day – and THE DAY – that’s enough for me.
Well, these are certainly exciting times for Biblical archaeology! I have already written about my experiences on the archaeological did at Shiloh and the famous/infamous ‘curse tablet’. In addition to this I just read an article on Archaeon Magnetics. A basic physics lesson – Prevailing theory is that the earth’s magnetic field is generated by heat churning in the planet’s core and radiating outward. This process arranges electrons in a pattern of matching orientations (attractive not repellent) so that the attraction between them creates the magnetic field. There are new tweaks to this old theory that are very interesting but I will not go into that here. When a material substance becomes magnetic it means that groups of electrons within the substance have shifted into alignment with the earth’s magnetic field. This requires a certain ‘free range’ capability of electrons in a substance. The more ‘fixed’ the electron positioning and orientation within a given substance, the less potential for magnetism. You can do a little bit with your hair and a balloon but only metals have significant magnetic potential and among metals, iron is the king of magnetism as it has lots of free range electrons capable of moving into alignment with the magnetic field and ‘attractive’ rather than ‘repellent’ orientation with each other. Heat and/or electrical current are the drivers of this magnetic alignment. So, for instance, some metals can become magnetic at elevated temperatures. But only four metals are magnetic at room temperature. Again – iron is king. The other three are nickel, cobalt and gadolinium. And, because there is always a weirdo – dysprosium becomes magnetic at LOW temperatures! AND – because nothing is ever as simple as we want it to be, metals like gold, which are not magnetic in the normal sense, apparently ARE magnetic at the nano-level which opens up all kinds of opportunities for nano-machinery functioning via magnetism inside a larger but totally non-magnetic component! Go figure. So, iron is a unique metal in that it will conduct heat, electricity AND magnetism and remain magnetic at room temperature. One other interesting note already known to every blacksmith– heat iron to a high enough temperature (the Curie Point) and the electrons scatter so that the iron loses its magnetism until it cools!
‘So what?!’ I hear you say -even though you pronounced it poorly through your yawn. Well, here’s one ‘so what’: most clay contains iron particles. Further, archaeological destruction layers (like the one I sifted through at Shiloh) are identified by two characteristics – smashing and ashes. The ashes are there because everything got set on fire. Does the picture begin to emerge? The iron particles, under heat, will have aligned with the magnetic field of the time (Did I mention that the magnetic field shifts over time). Comparing the alignment of iron molecules in clay (you have no idea how much pottery is in almost any archaeological context) scientists can identify sites that were destroyed at the same time (a military campaign). And, establishing a ‘magnetic field curve’ by examining iron alignment from samples of known dates, the various destruction layers can be accurately dated. This is especially helpful in the known ‘holes’ in carbon dating and may well refine – or even replace – carbon dating in the field of archaeology. And in the early going of this exciting new development, examination of 21 different destruction layers at 17 different archaeological sites have verified Old Testament accounts and dates of Egyptian, Aramean, Assyrian and Babylonian military campaigns from the 10th to the 6th centuries BC.
Pretty good for a book so many skeptics think to be ‘made up’ huh?
Pastor and Author Terry Bailey, Senior Pastor of Indian Run Christian Church