The Bible touches upon aerostatics in the Book of Job and evidences a
remarkable understanding long before modern science. Yet, further evidence that
the Ultimate Author of Scripture is outside of our Time-Space-Matter
“For He looks to the ends of the earth, and sees under the whole heavens, to establish a weight (pressure) for the wind and apportion the waters by measure.”
Job 28: 24 – 25
The verse that is referenced in the field of aeronautics is also
relevant to the field of aerostatics. Job 28 is profound in its grasp of the
nature of air – namely, that it has weight (and mass).
In 1643, an Italian
scientist by the name of Evangelista Torricelli invented the barometer. This is
a device that enables atmospheric pressure to be measured. Atmospheric pressure
is the result of the weight of the atmosphere (air) pushing down on itself and
on the surface below it. For example, the atmospheric pressure at sea level is @
14.7 pounds per square inch of surface area.
An easy way to see the effects of atmospheric pressure is to look at a
hot air balloon. In a hot air balloon, a gas burner is used to heat air to a
temperature of @ 212°F (100°C). Since hot air is lighter and less dense than
the cool air around the balloon, the heated air causes the whole balloon to
ascend (or gain altitude). When the air inside the balloon cools down, or when
the hot air is let out, the balloon begins to descend (or lose altitude). In
short, the reason a hot air balloon is able to stay aloft is because it
“weighs” less than the air around it.
Isn’t it interesting that Job is penning the words to these verses
more than 3,600 years earlier than Torricelli’s invention? Job is recognizing
that air (wind) has weight and therefore mass. The Bible is accurate in its
Relevant Pioneer Quote
Another key pioneer in understanding air pressure (and the pressure of
gases in general) was John Dalton (1766 – 1844). He is considered by many to be
the Father of Atomic Theory as he demonstrated that the atomic weights of
elements are proportionate to one another.
In 1787, Dalton became interested in meteorology and began to make
daily observations regarding the weather – eventually this list grew to contain
over 200,000 entries. In 1803 Dalton published his law of partial pressures
known as Dalton’s Law:
“When different gases combine, the resulting pressure will be the sum
of what each gas gives individually”
John Dalton was also a Bible believing Christian.
“We should scarcely be excused in concluding this essay without calling the reader’s attention to the beneficent and wise laws established by the Author of nature to provide for the various exigencies of the sublunary creation, and to make the several parts dependent upon each other, so as to form one well-regulated system or whole.”
and Observations to Determine whether the Quantity of Rain and Dew is Equal to
the Quantity of Water carried off by the Rivers and Raised by Evaporation’,
Memoirs Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, 1803, 5, part 2, 372.
The Bible is accurate in its
understanding of aerostatics.