Re: Burgeson's Bomb (was Re: [asa] Radioactive decay of U-238 is imminent (just wait a few billion years))

From: Merv Bitikofer <>
Date: Sun Jan 25 2009 - 17:30:07 EST

Murray Hogg wrote:
> Hi Burgy,
> I like this little parable which I have named "Burgeson's Bomb" in
> your honour! I would, however, suggest one slight tweak;
> Given that we have NO IDEA as to the time at which Christ will return,
> it would be better if the bomb were controlled by the radioactive
> decay of an unknown element - giving the victims no conception of the
> half-life. We presume, however, that the victims know that half-lives
> for unstable elements can range from several seconds to several
> billion years.
> So if, for instance, the victims understood that the bomb MIGHT be
> triggered by the decay of a single atom of Protactinium-234 to
> Uranium-234 with a half-life of 90 seconds they would considerably
> more edgy.
> So I'd suggest that the bomb in the story be "armed" with an unstable
> isotope of an unknown element and the victims handed a chart of decay
> rates for a range of elements. This would make things far more
> interesting for all concerned and probably give a better sense of what
> is meant by "imminent" in this context.
> Blessings,
> Murray
Of course, Burgy's bomb has been armed & we're going on 2000 yrs now, so
the "victims" can now eliminate all the shorter half-life possibilities
in the table. Since that only leaves the longer half-life options
with considerably bigger gaps between them, the victims are now less
edgy and more inclined to even forget the original suspense.

More seriously, though -- unlike totally unpredictable individual atomic
decays, the events in the world don't happen in a vacuum but may be
accompanied by signs or prophecy. As a teacher colleague of mine (and
my own mother as well) would point out, God is visibly at work in the
world today. And I am enthusiastically informed by them of how many in
Israel are turning to the Lord. And they see in all these things signs
of imminence (in the ordinary time-focused sense of that word) of Jesus'
return. I have no problem (I don't think) with such enthusiasm even if
I am skeptical about my/theirs/&everybody's claimed knowledge over the
specifics. But meanwhile, if they wish to rejoice and hope & pray
fervently, I am left wondering what it means to hope in Christ if it
doesn't include this very kind of activity. I generally admire their
fervency and am left to contemplate my own fervency which is found
wanting in comparison.


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Received on Sun Jan 25 17:24:59 2009

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