Saturday, 28 February 2015

Noah And The Magical Ark

You ever wonder if the story of Noah and his Ark is just some fairytale the brothers Grimm wish they had come up with? If the answer to that question is "Yes I have." then read on. If the answer was "No" or "Who the Hell is Noah?" you might want to just read something else.

Giraffes have always been a nightmare for Ark builders everywhere.

"Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee. And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive. And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them. Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he." (Genesis 6:14-22, KJV)

Moses was supposedly a learned man. He gets the credit for writing the first 5 books of the Bible, even though he was not around for a good chunk of the beginning; and towards the end of the 5 books it mentions things that happened after his own death - But that is a whole different post all on its own.

You may be wondering why Moses is being picked on for a story involving Noah and God. And you would be right to. But the simple answer is that Noah may have been a great Ark Builder, but he was never noted as having great penmanship. So where did Moses get the figures for the size of the Ark? Shem, the son of Noah? Admittedly it never says that Shem spoke to Moses; but God, Noah, and his sons are the only people that knew the dimensions.

But even then you have to question why Moses didn't wonder about the measurements:

Shem: So my Dad was told by God to build this Ark that was 300 cubits long, by 50 cubits wide; and 30 cubits high.
Moses: When you say cubits, whose arm was he using?
Shem: His own.
Moses: And how long would you say that was?
Shem: From the tip of his finger to his elbow. Same as every cubit.
Moses: No, I mean how were his arms. Were they long and dragging the floor almost, or short little stubby things?
Shem: About the same as my arms.
Moses: About? That is a big difference. Say it is 2 inches difference, with 300 cubits that is 600 inches either added or lost.
Shem: Moses why don't you use centimetres?
Moses: I'm not messing with any new-fangled idea that will just be another fad.
Shem: I think it will catch on.
Moses: Anyway. Why did God want your Dad to build this Ark?
Shem: To save all the animals.
Moses: (laughing) You are kidding me. There is no way that all the animals could fit on an Ark of that size.
Shem: Don't laugh, you didn't even know what an Ark was 10 minutes ago.
Moses: According to mu Sundial it has only been 5 minutes. Look Shem, it is a nice story but nobody is going to believe your Dad built an Ark and then put all the animals on it.
Shem: Not all the animals.
Moses: I see, I poke holes in your fanciful tale and now you want to change it.
Shem: No. It was just two of every animal. One male and one female.
Moses: Has anyone done the woodworm joke yet?
Shem: Yes, about 100 times already.
Moses: Two of every animal?
Shem: Yes, two of every animal. Obviously there was no need to bring the animals from the water. And a lot of the birds just sat on the roof.
Moses: Wait a minute there. So if it was a flood, and you obviously can't kill fish with a flood, doesn't that mean that the fish now outnumber every other kind of animal?
Shem: I suppose so. Never gave it much thought really.
Moses: But even so, take all the water animals out, and all the animals that fly out, you still have lots of animals. Way too many for an Ark.
Shem: Look, they all fitted. Just write it as I told you.
Moses: I have to say I'm not totally comfortable with any of this.
Shem: Would 50 Shekels make you more comfortable?
Moses: That it would. So there is your Mum and Dad, you and your brothers, and your wives? That it for people?
Shem: That was all of us.
Moses: How many animals?
Shem: Two of each.
Moses: But no fishes and no birds?
Shem: Some birds.
Moses: What? Now the birds are in the Ark? This is what I mean. You have to keep your story straight.
Shem: The birds that couldn't fly were in the Ark.
Moses: You ever wonder what sort of sick person creates a bird and makes it unable to fly? I mean it is the whole basis of being a bird; the ability to fly. Take the dodo for example.
Shem: (interrupting) I'd be grateful if you left the dodo out of the details.
Moses: Excuse my blasphemy but Jesus fucking Christ. You forgot the dodo?
Shem: No. No. No. We remembered the dodo. Two of them like all the other animals.
Moses: So why do you want me to not mention the dodo?
Shem: Well, we celebrated Christmas.
Moses: Why didn't you eat turkey like everyone else?
Shem: Firstly, there was no everyone else. God had drowned all the sinners in the flood. Secondly, Mum had named the turkeys Trevor and Thelma. She wouldn't let us eat them.
Moses: So you ate the dodo?
Shem: Ugly bird. Nobody will miss it.
Moses: Anything else you don't want me to mention?
Shem: Dinosaurs.
Moses: Them big bastard things? Don't tell me you ate them.
Shem: Hey you wasn't there. 190 days trapped with smelly animals. After the first 5 days I used to wake in the morning wishing I was a sinner and had been washed away. You know what sort of smell you get with that many animals? You think of the worse smell you can think of and then multiply it by the number of lies you have already written.
Moses: That is pretty bad. I'm only just starting the 6th chapter of the first book and I already got more lies covering more shit than I know what to do with. I don't even know what is real anymore.
Shem: I feel you man. I did 190 days eating nothing but dinosaur meat. Only break I got was the dodo. With 8 people them two birds didn't go too far. Japheth got the beak. Boy was he not happy. Didn't get any presents for Christmas and then got stuck with a dodo beak to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Moses: Jesus?
Shem: Yeah. Don't mention him either. If you really have to mention him do it a lot later. On second thoughts just don't mention him.
Moses: No dodo. No dinosaurs. No Jesus. Anything else you'd like me to leave out?
Shem: Them sizes if you could.
Moses: I don't know. They seem pretty important. People are going to wonder.
Shem: Well I'm not too sure about sizes.
Moses: What?
Shem: Dad was telling me one night while we were floating in the stupid Ark. Well that day the elephants had a case of the shits and wouldn't you know it was my day to be on 'Elephant Duty'. So while he was trying to tell me the sizes I was thinking to myself - "Just shut up Dad. Just shut up. I have been shovelling elephant shit all day while you tended to the earthworms. I don't care how big the Ark is I just want to get some sleep; because tomorrow I have to trim the tiger's claws while you tend to the sloth. So just shut up and go bother someone else will you."
Moses: Freud was right. You have some serious father issues there.
Shem: Tell you what, put whatever sizes you want. Not like anyone else is going to build an Ark to hold all the animals of the world. Nobody will be reading your stupid book thing, and use it as a guide to building an Ark.
Moses: It is called a Bible.
Shem: Sure. Whatever. Look I told you what happened. Here is another 25 Shekels. Do your best and make sure me and the family don't look like a bunch of arseholes.
Moses: Sure thing King Shem; leader of all the animals on Earth and in Heaven.
Shem: What? How much have you had to drink today? Just leave me as Shem; son of Noah and Naamah.
Moses: OK Shem. I will.
Shem: You better. I just gave you 75 Shekels; and I know where you live if you mess up.

Admittedly the chances of this conversation taking place are slim to say the least; especially as Shem and Moses were never actually alive at the same time. But if you can speak to God, then speaking to the dead son of a Ark builder should be no problem.

NOTE: For those that really want to know, it is believed Moses was born in 1393 BCE. As it is believed Shem was born in 2568 BCE, and lived to be 600; Shem would have been dead for 575 years before Moses was born. So Moses either got the figures from a descendant of Shem, or someone at some point wrote them down. Which would suggest Moses was not inspired by God and was merely lazy and copied the work of someone else.

Now on to the figures.

The Ark was 300 cubits in length (approximately 155 metres). It was 50 cubits wide (approximately 26 metres). And it was 30 cubits high (approximately 16 metres). So, the Ark was 155 metres long, 26 metres wide, and 16 metres high. Which gives a volume of 64,480 cubic metres.

Now to fit the animals in. Giraffes are about 1.8 metres tall when they are born and can grow to 5.5 metres tall. So with that being said you could in theory split the height into 3; and have 3 levels. But not all the animals are as tall, so the number of levels could be higher; after all the smallest animal, which is a shrew, is about 2.5 centimetres long.

Then you have the weight to consider too. The largest animal alive today is the African elephant; which weighs in at 6,500 kilogrammes. The white rhinoceros weighs in at 3,600 kilogrammes. The hippopotamus weighs in at 2,300 kilogrammes. The gaur weighs in at 1,000 kilogrammes. And our tall friend the giraffe weighs in at 1,600 kilogrammes. So take these 5 animals, and their mates, and you end up with 30,000 kilogrammes from just 5 animals and their mates. But at the other end of the scale is our friend, the shrew, who only weighs in at 14 grams.

As to how many animals were on the Ark there is a huge divide. Some estimates are close to 2,000,000 and some are close to 1,600. But the general consensus is approximately about 50,000.

Taking an average weight of a sheep (just the first mid-size animal that came to me) to be approximately 120 kilogrammes; and then multiplying by 50,000 gives a total of 6,000,000 kilogrammes (approximately 6,614 tonnes). Not including the 8 people, the food for the people and animals, and the weight of the Ark itself. But if the figure of 2,000,000 is close then it would be 240,000,000 kilogrammes (236,209 tonnes).

These animals have to eat. Using the sheep example; these animals eat about 2 kilogrammes of food per day. With 50,000 animals that is 100,000 kilogrammes of food per day. Or a total to last for 190 days - 19,000,000 kilogrammes (approximately 186,999 tonnes) of food.

Now to the waste. Urine isn't going to be counted because I'm guessing Noah and his sons just threw it out the window. But the fecal waste of these animals would have been massive. Using the sheep again; the average sheep puts out 2 kilogrammes of manure every day (After all what goes in must come out). With 50,000 animals that is approximately 100,000 kilogrammes of manure. They were in the Ark for a total of 190 days; so you have a total manure weight of 19,000,000 kilogrammes (approximately 186,999 tonnes) of shit!

This leaves a manpower problem. There are 8 people on the Ark moving 100,000 kilogrammes of food, and 100,000 kilogrammes of manure each and every day. Now if they sleep for 8 hours it leaves 16 hours to get all this done. This would mean each and every person would have to move 1,562 kilogrammes (approximately 1.5 tonnes) per hour.

Let us just say that they were able to keep up on the manure problem. This still means that the Ark was holding 186,999 tonnes of food and 6,614 tonnes of animals. A grand total of 193,613 tonnes of weight; not including the weight of the boat structure itself.

One of the world's biggest ships, the Triple-E Maersk can carry 18,000 TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit) with each TEU holding at maximum 21,600 kilogrammes. A total of 388,800,000 kilogrammes (approximately 382,659 tonnes).

Along with the manpower problem, we now have the problem that Noah built an Ark, out of wood, that could hold half of the tonnage that a modern ship built with all the available technology and design skills can hold; all back in 2348 BCE.

Is it possible that Noah and his sons built an Ark, and took two of every animal inside? Maybe. But there are so many variables that come into play that cannot be verified; including:
  • The exact design of the Ark is unknown.
  • Nobody knows what animals were taken into the Ark.
  • It is unknown how feeding and waste removal were handled.

Finally there is this problem that nobody can find this massive boat. It is not looking for Bin Laden in some caves in the middle of nowhere; it is looking for a massive boat in a desert area. Unsurprisingly there is not much call for boats in a desert and I'm guessing one would stand out like George W. Bush at a MENSA meeting.

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