Archaeologists Use Remnants of the Destruction of Jerusalem to Understand the History of the Earth’s Magnetic Field

Aug. 11 2020

According to Albert Einstein, the changes in the planet’s magnetic field constitute one of the major unresolved problem of modern physics. Archaeological research into the Babylonians’ sacking of Jerusalem in 586 BCE could help bring scientists closer to the solving it, writes Rossella Tercatin:

Just a few steps from the Temple Mount, one prominent two-story building, probably used for administrative purposes, was . . . set on fire [during the Babylonian invasion] and collapsed. Over 2,600 years later, its carbonized beams and stones uncovered in the Givati parking lot . . . represent an incredibly vivid testimony of those grievous day.

Among the most notable remains of the building, the archaeologists noticed several fragments of a sophisticated plaster floor. Those pieces, left in the same position for millennia, proved to be essential for measuring the intensity and direction of the earth’s magnetic field in those precise moments.

While throughout modern history the direction has been associated to the geographic north, making it a pillar of navigation systems for centuries, in the past the magnetic field is known to have been completely neutral or even pointing south.

When objects containing magnetic minerals burn at a very high temperature, those minerals are re-magnetized and therefore record the direction and the magnitude of the field in that precise moment. Artifacts like pottery, bricks, and tiles, which are fired in furnaces, ovens, and kilns, can all provide these records. However, as precise as their dating can be, it usually spans of at least a few decades. On the contrary, if documented by historical records, [objects] can be pinned down to a very specific moment—in the case of Jerusalem in BCE 586—providing a unique opportunity.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Archaeology, First Temple, Jerusalem, Science

Don’t Let Iran Go Nuclear

Sept. 29 2022

In an interview on Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the Biden administration remains committed to nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic, even as it pursues its brutal crackdown on the protests that have swept the country. Robert Satloff argues not only that it is foolish to pursue the renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal, but also that the White House’s current approach is failing on its own terms:

[The] nuclear threat is much worse today than it was when President Biden took office. Oddly, Washington hasn’t really done much about it. On the diplomatic front, the administration has sweetened its offer to entice Iran into a new nuclear deal. While it quite rightly held firm on Iran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from an official list of “foreign terrorist organizations,” Washington has given ground on many other items.

On the nuclear side of the agreement, the United States has purportedly agreed to allow Iran to keep, in storage, thousands of advanced centrifuges it has made contrary to the terms of the original deal. . . . And on economic matters, the new deal purportedly gives Iran immediate access to a certain amount of blocked assets, before it even exports most of its massive stockpile of enriched uranium for safekeeping in a third country. . . . Even with these added incentives, Iran is still holding out on an agreement. Indeed, according to the most recent reports, Tehran has actually hardened its position.

Regardless of the exact reason why, the menacing reality is that Iran’s nuclear program is galloping ahead—and the United States is doing very little about it. . . . The result has been a stunning passivity in U.S. policy toward the Iran nuclear issue.

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Subscribe to Mosaic

Welcome to Mosaic

Subscribe now to get unlimited access to the best of Jewish thought and culture

Subscribe

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy