Science | BYU Studies

Science

The Great World of the Spirits of the Dead: Death, the Great War, and the 1918 Influenza Pandemic as Context for Doctrine and Covenants 138

Author George S. Tate,
Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918), sixth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, endured the sorrow of the deaths of many loved ones, including his parents and several children. Smith also felt the horror of World War I, and his sons served in American forces. In October 1918, Smith received a comforting vision of God's love and of Christ and saints ministering and preaching the... Read more

Civilizations Out in Space

From the beginning, men have looked into the starry sky and asked, "Are we alone in this vastness?" Scientific knowledge now enables us to outline an answer to this question, and that will be our purpose here. Some interesting implications of the answer may come to mind as we proceed. Two scientific achievements of the 1950's changed our intellectual climate and brought renewed interest in... Read more

The Great World of the Spirits of the Dead: Death, the Great War, and the 1918 Influenza Pandemic as Context for Doctrine and Covenants 138

Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918), sixth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, endured the sorrow of the deaths of many loved ones, including his parents and several children. Smith also felt the horror of World War I, and his sons served in American forces. In October 1918, Smith received a comforting vision of God's love and of Christ and saints ministering and preaching the... Read more

ß-Lysin

This article briefly reviews the history and characteristics of β-Lysin, an antibacterial protein in the blood that remains stable in moderately heated temperatures, and discusses its possible role in the inflammatory reaction. Specifically, it kills most gram-positive bacteria, and it primarily acts at or near cell membranes. This article was originally published in Microbiology-1975; at the... Read more

Physical Light and the Light of Christ

Light is puzzling. For the last century, surprises have repeatedly upended older understandings of light. What is more, these surprises have, among scientists and nonscientists alike, triggered a great deal of philosophical and theological commentary. Physical light resonates metaphysical overtones, some of which may be considered theological or spiritual. Light travels at its characteristic... Read more

The Origin, Structure, and Evolution of the Stars

A glance at the stars on a dark, moonless night away from the lights and other distractions of the city is one of nature's most rewarding scenes. Although the number of stars in the dark vault of the heavens appears to the eye to be incredibly large, only three thousand are visible at any one time. But with the aid of even small telescopes it is possible to observe a million stars, and we are... Read more

Discovering a Surgical First: Russell M. Nelson and Tricuspid Valve Annuloplasty

In an April 2003 general conference address, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles recounted an experience of receiving sudden inspiration on how to perform a certain surgery. The image that came midsurgery to the young surgeon in 1960 led to the repair of a previously inoperable valve defect in the heart of a Latter-day Saint stake patriarch. This article documents the... Read more

Religion and Economics in Mormon History

One surprising aspect of Mormon doctrine is its emphasis on temporal prosperity as well as spiritual salvation. Arrington discusses how his was especially true in the early Church. He states that it is uncertain whether the economic bent of Mormon doctrine was due to current economic philosophies or direct revelation, but either way the early history in the Church of gathering and persecution... Read more

Theology and Ecology: Religious Belief and Environmental Stewardship

This article explores the potential role religious belief might play in U.S. environmental policy making. Careful environmental stewardship holds a prominent place in Mormon theology as it does among other faiths. It is helpful to know how religious groups are engaged in environmental policy making, the strengths and limitations of these efforts, and the prospects for religious-based... Read more

It's Just a Phase You're Going Through

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The Impact of Applied Science Upon the Utopian Ideal

The author examines the changing attitudes toward applied science by looking at three Utopian works: Sir Thomas More's Utopia (1516), Sir Francis Bacon's New Atlantis (1626), and Jonathan Swift's Voyage to Laputa (1727). While More focuses on improving man, Bacon focuses on improving things. Swift shows the problem inherent in Bacon's emphasis on applied science by creating a satire in which... Read more

Crown-6 and the Future

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Science as Storytelling

Much of our modern world revolves around something called "science." But what is science? Interestingly, this turns out to be a very difficult question to answer because every definition seems to include something we don't consider science or seems to exclude something we do consider science. In this essay, the authors present their own definition: Science is the modern art of creating stories... Read more

And God Said, Let There Be Lights in the Firmament of the Heaven

It is New Year's morning. The sun has not yet risen at our winter home in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. The air is clear and cold, and I eagerly await the warmth of the morning sun. As I wait, I resolve to share my knowledge of the sun—that marvelous source of light and energy introduced by the simple words, "And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from... Read more

Enhancing Evolution: Posthumanous Dreams and the Moral Complexity of Biomedical Aspirations

A noted academic bioethicist and British media pundit with a named chair at the University of Manchester, John Harris has recently given birth to an odd literary child. His latest book, Enhancing Evolution: The Ethical Case for Making Better People , hails from an esteemed university press, but it is informal and tendentious, often jeering at opponents, both popular and academic. Despite his... Read more

Hutton's Uniformitarianism

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Charles Darwin After One Hundred Years

One hundred years after the publication of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species, Darwin's theories have become largely accepted as scientific fact explaining the changing nature of the world. However, there remains a fear of the theory of evolution. The article surveys the history of Darwin's voyages and observations that led to his revolutionizing theories and the impact his thought has had on... Read more

Sintered Diamonds

Originally published in Science, vol. 169 (August 1970). BYU Professor of Chemistry H. Tracy Hall describes the process for sintering diamond powder into a synthetic carbonado-type substance. Sintering is the process of forming a solid mass of material by heat and/or pressure. Natural carbonado is a rare polycrystalline form of diamond found primarily in Brazil, and used mainly in industrial... Read more

Worlds Come and Pass Away: Evolution of Stars and Planets in the Pearl of Great Price?

In a revelation given to Joseph Smith and recorded in the book of Moses, we find the statement that "worlds" come into existence, live for a time, and pass away (or, at least, pass into a different state). How does this statement accord with the astronomical knowledge of Joseph Smith's day? Emeritus professor of astronomy Hollis Johnson briefly recounts the history of astronomy, from ancient days... Read more

Rediscovering Provo's First Tabernacle with Ground-Penetrating Radar

During the early morning hours of December 17, 2010, fire broke out in the Provo (Utah) Tabernacle, virtually gutting the historic building and leaving only the exterior walls standing in stable condition. On October 1, 2011, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that the ruined tabernacle will be restored as a temple, the Provo City Center Temple, giving a second life to the... Read more

Science and Theology: A Search for the Uncommon Denominator

Scholars have found it difficult to add science and theology because they lack a common denominator. The scientists' theories of evolution and the theologians' revelations of man's creation could not be integrated harmoniously into a single, acceptable narrative because of the absence of a unifying concept. This essay relates my prolonged search for such a common denominator, a search that had... Read more

The Spirit and the Intellect: Lessons in Humility

Boyce discusses the limits of our knowledge in both the intellectual and the spiritual: "I have come to believe, after many a false start," he admits, "that if I am honest and thorough in my approach to the gospel, and if I am honest and thorough in my approach to intellectual disciplines, there resides in each the imperative for a profound sense of humility. I discover in both of them that what... Read more

A Metallurgical Provenance Study of the Marcus Herennius Military Diploma

The bronze used to make the military diploma for the Roman soldier Marcus Herennius in AD 109 is heterogeneous in texture and com­position. In contrast to modern bronze, lead (Pb) inclusions are common, and the bronze shows a considerable range in copper (Cu) (73 to 92.7 weight percent) and tin (Sn) (6.1 to 26.5 weight percent). Lead isotopic com­positions are identical to those of copper coins... Read more

Mathematical Parables

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Statistical Distributions: How Deviant Can They Be?

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What's Burning at BYU: The Role of Combustion and Our Work to Understand It

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Tobacco-Related Cancers in Utah Compared to the United States: Quantifying the Benefits of the Word of Wisdom

In the LDS religion, adherence to the Word of Wisdom was based on faith for over a century before scientific evidence began to support its precepts in the area of tobacco. It was not until the 1950s that epidemiologic studies provided sufficient evidence to implicate tobacco as a risk factor for several chronic diseases. Although tobacco-smoking prevalence has since declined in the United States... Read more

The Search for the Physical Cause of Jesus Christ's Death

Clues in the Bible describing Jesus's crucifixion have led to theories of the physical cause of his death. The best known theories are that he died of a ruptured heart, asphyxia, cardiovascular collapse, aspiration, fatal syncope, or that he may not have died on the cross at all. In this article, Reid Litchfield examines those proposals and makes his own argument that Jesus died of a cardiac... Read more

Biological Effects of Nuclear War

There are two major differences between nuclear war and conventional war. Nuclear war could destroy the world in a matter of hours, while conventional war is waged gradually, with at least the possibility of reaching a settlement at some point before destruction has reached its maximum. Also, nuclear warfare potentially has long-term biological consequences which are far more severe than those of... Read more

Why Things Move: A New Look at Helaman 12:15

A verse from the Book of Mormon says, "And thus, according to his word the earth goeth back, and it appeareth unto man that the sun standeth still; yea, and behold, this is so; for surely it is the earth that moveth and not the sun" (Helaman 12:15). The verse has been commonly understood to mean that its author, Mormon, had a heliocentric view of the cosmos. David Grandy explores why that may not... Read more

From Pebbles to Commutators

Donald W. Robinson describes the origin of mathematics in a metaphor everyone can understand: A shepherd keeps track of his flock by placing one pebble in a bag for each sheep. His matching in a one-to-one way leads him to the process of counting and eventually to the concept of number. Then he and his son split the work and hold two bags. The combination of two piles of pebbles introduces the... Read more

"Many Great and Notable Cities Were Sunk": Liquefaction in the Book of Mormon

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Leonardo da Vinci—Pioneer Geologist

The fame of Leonardo da Vinci as one of the greatest minds of the Renaissance, indeed of all time, is well known to scholars in many fields; artists are familiar with his painting and sculpture, architects, and engineers have marveled at his designs for churches, basilicas, etc., and students of mechanical, aeronautical, and civil engineering are familiar with his many inventions and mechanical... Read more

Archaeometry Applied to Olmec Iron-Ore Beads

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In the Thirty and Fourth Year: A Geologist's View of the Great Destruction in 3 Nephi

Geological studies and eyewitness accounts of volcanic activity show the likelihood that the massive destruction reported in 3 Nephi was caused by an explosive volcanic eruption. About three hundred years ago, a cataclysmic volcanic eruption occurred off of the northeastern coast of Papua New Guinea. No written history of this eruption exists, but local legends abound concerning the event. In... Read more

Polymorphism and High Pressure

Elements and compounds often exist in more than one solid form. The different solid forms of the same compound or element are called polymorphs. A classic pair of polymorphs are the substances graphite and diamond. These materials have radically different properties. Diamond is the hardest substance known, is transparent, does not conduct electricity, and has a density 36 percent greater than... Read more

The Medical Practice of Dr. Frederick G. Williams

Frederick Granger Williams (1787-1842) was a leader in the early days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but also served as a justice of the peace, scribe, editor, and medical practitioner. In the early nineteenth century, the medical profession was in its infancy, beginning a slow shift from barbaric practices (generally bleeding and calomel) to herbal treatments that were at... Read more

Probabilistic Record Linkage for Genealogical Research

With increased interest in family history research, there is a great need for the improvements in procedures for generating genealogical information. One of the most time-consuming parts of the work is searching through records (such as civil records, church records, census records, immigration records, wills, deeds, and certificates of births, marriages, and deaths) for information about an... Read more

The Environmental Ethics of Mormon Belief

The time has come to find common ground between environmentalism and Mormon believe. The perceived divide between the two has all but shut down the possibility of dialogue. Some Mormons dismiss the political causes of environmentalists as being the fears of faithless hedonists, just as otherwise responsible environmental scholars and activists sometimes perpetuate myths and inaccuracies about... Read more

Some Thoughts on Higher-Dimensional Realms

In 1975, the Hyperspace Research Group was established at Brigham Young University. The objective of this group has been to develop special computer graphics techniques for generating and presenting meaningful representations of figures with more than three spatial dimensions. In the course of research, discussions have often arisen about the likelihood of higher spatial dimensions and how their... Read more

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