Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Why Nobel Prize winners are so often Jewish

So why is such a disproportionally large portion of Nobel Prize laureates Jewish?

Jews comprise 0.2% of the world's population and 2% of the American population. Yet 22% of Nobel Prize recipients world-wide have been Jews and 36% of all US recipients were Jews. Women score even better: 33% and 50% of women recipients, worldwide and American respectively, were Jews.

Jews are not inherently more intelligent than non-Jews (and intelligence is only a factor of success in science) and conspiracy theories aside, there shouldn't be any reason why Jews do better science. Or should there...?

An often neglected requirement of good stewardship is an understanding of what's going on. In my nearly three decades as a professional engineer, I've seen great numbers of well-willing morons destroy things simply because their actions were sanctioned by a complete lack of applicable knowledge.

Here at Abarim Publications we understand that good stewardship of the earth goes hand in hand with a proper scientific knowledge of Creation. Even theology should be permeated by the principles of natural law, since no less than the very character and attributes of the Creator are manifested in nature (Romans 1:20).

Paul speaks twice of the renewing of one's mind (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23) and although that's often explained to mean that a renewed mind is a pious and unquestioning mind, but there's no real reason to conclude that a new mind isn't one that resonates with the rings of creation. Here at Abarim Publications we're pretty sure that where an old mind is riddled with superstitious nonsense, a renewed mind is a scientific mind.

At the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus addressed His disciples and "opened their minds to understand the Scriptures" (Luke 24:45). Since creation and revelation are God's two witnesses, the two should (1) work the same way, and (2) explain each other, and that's where the Nobel Prizes come in.

People who have been exposed since early childhood to the fabric and workings of Biblical Scriptures have in effect been exposed to the very workings of creation. They have more familiarity with it and thus a slight advantage over people who find themselves looking at wholly new things.

Just like a child that grows up in a household of violin players might some day have a demonstrable advantage in piano class, so does a Jewish kid who's been steeped in Hebrew Scriptures have an measurable advantage in the scientific arena over people who grew up watching Barney the Dinosaur and MacGyver.

In case you haven't seen Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, you really should. And if you thought that Close Encounters was about people having telepathic hunches about spaceships, you really should watch it again. Steven Spielberg is one of those Jewish story tellers and particularly his earlier work is deeply steeped in natural and Torahic principles.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Exodus 19:16-17)

The Hebrew word for light is 'or and the word for lamp is nahar. Those two words don't look much alike transliterated into Latin script but in Hebrew they are so similar that one could pass for a conjugated form of the other so that the word for lamp literally means 'lighting' in the sense of 'illuminating'.

Calling a lamp an illuminator isn't such a big deal, but the deal gets a whole lot bigger when we look at the regular Hebrew word for river: nahar, which is identical to the word for lamp. This noun comes from the identical verb nahar, which means to flow. The regular Hebrew word for Nile is ye'or, which also comes from the word for light, 'or, and means something like 'it shall illuminate'.

Guess who
Imagine being six years old, and hearing the old stories. Wouldn't you wonder why rivers would be known by a word that also means lamp or illuminator? Why is the word that describes the flowing of water the same as the word that describes what light does?

Most ancient cultures sprung up around rivers, so the link between a river and a tribe's central fire may seem obvious apart from the paradox of calling water after a word for fire (in the old world, all light came either from flames or celestial bodies). But still, on the mental desktop of a Hebrew six year old, the icon for river was the same as the icon for lamp, whether intentional or not.

Light, we know now, travels at a speed of 300,000 kilometer per second, which is geek-speak for saying that light is either there or it isn't and you don't see it coming or going. It's too fast; you can't see it move. Light does not visibly travel, and the fact that it travels should not have been known to the ancients. It's therefor a mystery why the Hebrews would associate light with water, but this association is both anti-intuitive and spot on.

What nobody in the ancient world was supposed to know is that light propagates, that it is substantial and obeys the laws of gravity, precisely like water. As Max Planck spectacularly discovered in the early 1900's, light, like water, is not as continuous as it seems but consists of droplets called photons. But light, like water, also comes in waves.

There is absolutely no intuitive connection between matter and light, but everybody now knows that matter is polarized light. Yet the Hebrews calmly maintained that dry land arises from water (Genesis 1:9). The fundamental natural force of electromagnetism is carried by photons, and this same force is what keeps atoms together. That means that light indeed comes before all things, and indeed holds all things together (Colossians 1:17).

Imagine being a six year old, reviewing all these things. And then ending up working in some dusty patent office, wondering why your life is slipping away like sand through stretched fingers. And then you wonder if there isn't more to reality than meets the eye. And then you remember that in Hebrew the word for eye, 'ayin, is the same as the word for fountain.

Wouldn't that make you glad that you never heard of MacGyver?


  1. Proverbs 119:105 came to mind when I read this, Arie :)

  2. Arie, That is wonderful as in its elemental meaning: full of wonder.

  3. fascinating to think about what each of us is steeped in during our early years ...


Be nice.

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