The animals came in two by two, hurrah!
A new study by fourth year students from the Department of Physics and Astronomy has shown that the animals that took up residence in pairs on Noah’s ark in the classical Biblical tale could have indeed done so – based on their weight and the buoyancy of the vessel.
The students examined the dimensions of the ark as measured in cubits in the Bible – settling on an average between the ancient Hebrew value (44.5cm) and the ancient Egyptian value (52.3cm), using 48.2cm for their calculations – and found that the ark would support the weight of 2.15 million sheep without sinking, which would likely be enough to support all of the species that were around at the time based on previous research suggesting that there were approximately 35,000 species of animals which would have needed to be saved by Noah.
While it is a separate matter whether all of the animals would physically fit inside an ark of these dimensions, the physics students concluded that, based on the buoyancy of the structure alone, the concept of ‘two of every animal’ boarding Noah’s ark is theoretically possible.
The students presented their findings in a paper for the Journal of Physics Special Topics, a peer-reviewed student journal run by the University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. The student-run journal is designed to give students practical experience of writing, editing, publishing and reviewing scientific papers.
The full paper, ‘The animals float two by two, hurrah!’, can be found here.
Darren Aronofsky's upcoming epic film 'Noah', starring Russell Crowe, is in cinemas April 4.
Listen to a podcast of the fourth year master’s students explaining how they calculated that the dimensions of the ark could have supported two of every animal: