Friday, March 24, 2017

Understanding Laman and Lemuel – Part II

Continuing from the last post regarding why Laman and Lemuel were reluctant to work on Nephi’s ship and how important was the introduction the Lord gave to Nephi on the vessel’s design and how it was to be built. 
    Central to any design methodology is estimating the prevailing sea state and selecting a design wave height—this is why coastal vessels of 600 B.C. would not be capable of surviving in deep ocean sailing because the stresses on the hull are far different, and much stronger. If anyone has ever been inside of a modern cargo ship of today and seen the movement, bending (in and out, up and down) of the hull, you get an idea of the tremendous forces of the ocean on the hull of any deep sea vessel.
In the early days, at the beginning of the Age of Discovery, as Portuguese mariners began sailing down the west coast of Africa (and eventually around the Cape), their ships had to be designed very differently, and take into consideration such things as wave height, in order to survive at sea (today, maritime structural engineers adhere to the IACS Recommendations 34 [International Association of Classification Societies] and their issues of Standard Wave Data).
    While each ship is different today, ship design still must consider many service conditions, with wave height being but one. Some vessels are designed to withstand shock and overpressure loads, with basic ship design considering the moments and shear forces imposed by hogging and sagging loads with the vessel supported on or between waves having the maximum expected height. Naturally, ship stability is an area of naval architecture and ship design that deals with how a ship behaves at sea, both in still water and in waves, whether intact or damaged.
Naturally, the Lord knew all of this and might even have conveyed all or part of this type of information to Nephi in order to give him sufficient knowledge and understanding of the task at hand. Whatever the amount of information Nephi received (1 Nephi 18:3), it is obvious his brothers and the sons of Ishmael had no comprehension of any of it. They simply could not grasp how Nephi, their younger brother (and in Hebrew the younger brother had neither standing nor acceptance) could manage any of this and rebelled accordingly.
While this is not meant as an excuse for Laman and Lemuel, who had seen the workings of the Lord in the obtaining of Laban’s records and the Angel’s chastisement, the monumental task before them was more than they could overcome. Their bluster and resistance is not only classically Hebrew, as Hugh Nibley points out on numerous occasions, but their behavior is not so unlike any older brothers in any society. And they did not want to trust their lives in the hands of their younger brother, for as Nephi put it: “they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them” (1 Nephi 2:12).
    The Lord would also know that the energy carried by a wave is proportional to the square of its height. For this reason, a 100-foot high wave will hit a vessel with four times the force of a 50-foot high wave. If a high wave is traveling at 35 knots and a vessel traveling at 20 knots runs into it bow first, the combined velocity of the impact is 55 knots. The resulting slamming force has the potential to seriously damaging the bow structure. The same is said of a wave hitting along the hull, forward or aft, with the forward hull traveling at a speed sufficient to add to the impact of the wave. Thus, the design of Nephi’s ship, though unknown to him and certainly beyond his expertise, would have been well within the scope of the Lord and certainly adequate for the journey the Lord had planned for Lehi to make. That i not to say that man in general in 600 B.C. or for a thousand years thereafter, were capable of designing such a ship.
 The tremendous power within a wave traveling at high speed when it hits an obstacle. Such force strikes an ocean-going vessel every time the ship crosses a wave formation, with much of the impact beneath the surface of the water

    Three factors influence the formation of "wind waves": Windspeed; length of time the wind has blown over a given area; and distance of open water that the wind has blown over (called fetch). In physics, a breaking wave is a wave whose amplitude reaches a critical level at which some process can suddenly start to occur that causes large amounts of wave energy to be dissipated. Because of the horizontal component of the fluid velocity associated with the wave motion, wave crests steepen as the amplitude increases; wave breaking generally occurs where the amplitude reaches the point that the crest of the wave actually is in its movement. Certain other effects in fluid dynamics have also been termed "breaking waves", partly by analogy with water surface waves.
    In meteorology, gravity waves are said to break when the wave produces regions where the potential temperature decreases with height, leading to energy dissipation through convective instability; likewise Rossby waves are said to break when the potential vorticity gradient is overturned. However, when at sea, where there is no natural barrier (like a rising coastline and beach), the wave is traveling at its highest velocity and when it hits the hull of a ship, which invariably extends down into the depths of the water around it some feet, the impact can be considerable. And wave after wave slams into the vessel’s hull as long as the ship is in the water. When the ship is under power, i.e., moving through the water, depending upon the direction of the wave, the velocity of the wave and impact power when hitting the hull, is compounded by both speeds.
Therefore, when the Lord instructed Nephi to build his ship in the certain way he did, he had in mind where that ship would be sailing and what type of seas it would encounter, and the pressures that would be exerted on the vessel. Thus the design and construction given to Nephi was intended to create a ship that could withstand that type of pounding. Which ought to suggest to the Malay theorists, that if Lehi was only going the short distance to the Malay Peninsula, sailing coastal waters as the traders did along that coast for centuries, the Lord would not have needed to instruct Nephi to  build a vessel different from that of how man was building at the time, for he would not be traveling into deep water, but along the coast. The fact that he had to cross the "many waters" of the entire Pacific Ocean should tell anyone interested that the ship was designed by the Lord for such deep ocean sailing.
    So why have we gone through all of this? To show that the example of the Lord’s dealing with Nephi (and one of the many lessons we should draw from the Book of Mormon) is one that should be a lesson to us all. While the Lord does not do things for us that we can do ourselves (Nephi built the ship), he makes sure we have in our possession the information (for Nephi it was the knowledge of how to build the ship and what design to use) required so we can then do the work ourselves. And in this way we grow and develop.
    Nephi did just that. Laman and Lemuel did not, and evidently lost their birthright and their placement in the eternities that might have been theirs.

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