Sunday, September 11, 2011

Could One of My Readers Have Solved the Mystery of Fire Baptism?

Clive Durdle is a regular reader and I am wondering whether he has solved a mystery I couldn't figure out on my own.  He posted the following in the comments section of a post I wrote a few days ago

"In 2005 in a live demonstration on Greek television, Michael Kalopoulos, author and historian of religion, dipped three candles in white phosphorus. The candles spontaneously ignited after approximately 20 minutes due to the self-ignition properties of white phosphorus when in contact with air. According to Kalopoulos' website: If phosphorus is dissolved in an appropriate organic solvent, self-ignition is delayed until the solvent has almost completely evaporated. Repeated experiments showed that the ignition can be delayed for half an hour or more, depending on the density of the solution and the solvent employed. Kalopoulos also points out that knowledge of chemical reactions of this nature was well known in ancient times, quoting Strabo, who states "In Babylon there are two kinds of naphtha springs, a white and a black. The white naphtha is the one that ignites with fire." (Strabon Geographica He further states that phosphorus was used by Chaldean magicians in the early fifth century BC, and by the ancient Greeks, in a way similar to its supposed use today by the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem."
Here is that I video I think. I wish I understood what they are saying. But the fact that a bunch of Orthodox priests are standing around makes me suspect this has something going for it:

or perhaps a better demonstration appears in this science video:

Someone has disabled the link for the story about how phosphorous was rediscovered in the sixteenth century but it worth taking a look at.  Here is the link.

Email with comments or questions.

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