The Torah Science Foundation Newsletter
Volume 2, number 1
Shevat 5763 / January 2003
In this issue:
1. Kabbalah meets Chemistry: The Periodicity of the Periodic Table
2. The 22nd amino acid
3. TSF 9th Grade Science Curriculum
4. TSF ‘Mathematics for Torah’ Curriculum
5. Professor Zeiger’s lectures on Torah and science in South America
1. Kabbalah meets: Chemistry: The Periodicity of the Periodic Table
The periodic table of chemical elements is one of the most remarkable expressions of the intrinsic order of the universe. The table groups the chemical elements by several key properties such as the atomic numbers. When so arranged, a periodicity in the columns and rows of the table becomes apparent.
For those interested in the Torah-science interface, the emerging order of the periodic table of elements invites a search for its Torah counterpart. A seminal article recently posted on the Torah Science Foundation's website (www.torahscience.org) explores this relationship, corresponding the 92 naturally occurring elements of the periodic table with the 92 unique Hebrew words in the verses of Genesis that describe Creation (Genesis 1:1 to 2:3).
Further the article delves in great depth into the 'spiritual' parallels of the 'periodic' qualities of the Table of Elements.
Future articles on the topic will use this basic equivalency model to explore the qualitative and quantitative characteristics of the elements through their corresponding Hebrew words.
This article is a true tour de force into the wondrous relationships between the chemical elements from which the natural world is built, and the Hebrew words which, according to the Jewish tradition, were used by G-d to create the world.
2. The 22nd amino acid
Proteins are key components of living cells and much of what is unique about each organism, (plants, animals, humans) depends on its proteins. There are hundred of thousands of different proteins in nature, yet all are made of the same building blocks, organic molecules called amino acids. The information determining the sequence of amino acids in each protein is encoded in the DNA of each organism. Nearly all proteins in nature are built with twenty amino acids. The idea that amino acids can be likened to “letters” that form “words”, that is protein molecules, is compelling, and provides an interesting foundation for finding a possible parallel between the Hebrew language (which has 22 letters) and the language of proteins.
Such a possibility posed an interesting challenge to students of the Torah-science interface. The models are similar: the 22 Hebrew letters are the building blocks of the universe, and the 20 amino acids are the building blocks of the proteins that are the basis of life's diversity. But, given that there is a discrepancy in the number of letters and amino acids, what is the relationship between the Hebrew letters and the amino acids?
Explanations for this discrepancy have been advanced in the past, but the elucidation of the relationship between the Hebrew letters and the amino acids has been made easier following the recent discoveries of the 21th and 22nd amino acid used to build proteins.
The 21st amino acid, selenocysteine, has been found in bacteria and animals, including mammals. The discovery of the 22nd amino acid, pyrrolysine in bacteria has been reported in the May 24, 2002, issue of Science, the scientific journal from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
A seminal article on the relationship between the rules of spiritual inheritance, found in the Torah, and physical inheritance operating in the natural world, is in preparation by the Torah Science Foundation.
3. TSF 9th Grade Science Curriculum
As mentioned in the previous issue of this newsletter, the TSF is continuing with the testing of its recently completed general science curriculum for 9th graders, currently in Hebrew, at the Levona Girls' High School in Israel.
The curriculum currently includes a textbook for teachers, in Hebrew, published by the New Text division of the Torah Science Foundation. A textbook/workbook for students is planned for publication during the upcoming school year. The Torah Science Foundation hopes to make the
curriculum available in English in the near future.
4. TSF Mathematics for Torah Curriculum
Following on the footsteps of the 9th Grade Science curriculum currently being tested (see above), the TSF is now planning the design of a 4 year (9-12 grades) mathematics curriculum.
The mathematics curricula currently in use in Orthodox and traditional school systems in Israel and around the world are geared for those students who plan to pursue a degree in an exact science or economics in college. Thus the mastery of infinitesimal mathematics is at the heart of these curricula.
However, students who wish to learn how to use mathematics in the in-depth and fruitful study of Torah, cannot use the skills taught in their 9-12 grade mathematics courses. Torah mathematics are based on discrete as opposed to continuous mathematics, and require mathematical topics and areas not covered in the traditional algebra-trigonometry-calculus coursework.
The TSF 9-12 mathematics curriculum will provide students who wish to make mathematics useful in the study of Torah with the necessary tools to do so.
At the present stage, the TSF is defining the goals and methods that the curriculum will pursue and follow. Mathematics educators and professionals wishing to assist are welcome to do so. Please contact Moshe Genuth, the TSF's Director of Research and Development at firstname.lastname@example.org directly.
5. Professor Zeiger lectures on Torah and science in South America
Professor Zeiger lead a weekend retreat discussing the unity of Torah and science in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The retreat was attended by young, observant professionals, and covered current developments in the interface between Torah and science, and the TSF's vision for a Torah-Science Academy – an academic environment where this interface can be studied by students wishing to engage it with rigor and candor.
He also gave a well-attended lecture on Torah and science in Asuncion, Paraguay.
Please contact the Torah Science Foundation if you want to arrange Torah science lectures or retreats led by Torah Science Foundation staff in your community.