Noah's Ark 'could have happened', scientists say

New study shows giant boat could have carried all world's species of animal without sinking

The story of Noah may seem like an impossible legend, but scientists have calculated that the Ark could indeed have floated - even with two of every animal on board.

Establishing the precise dimensions of the huge boat based on God's instructions according to The Bible, postgraduate physics students at the University of Leicester worked out that it would have been buoyant enough to be fit for purpose.

Previous studies have estimated that Noah would have been required to save around 35,000 species of animals living at the time on planet Earth.

In Genesis 6:13-22, the dimensions of the boat itself are set out - 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high.

Based on the conversion of one Egyptian and Hebrew "cubit" measurement being 48.2cm, the students found the Ark would have been around 144 metres long - a full 100 metres shorter than the HMS Ark Royal.

An actual life-sized, 150-metre-long ark, built at an abandoned quay in the Netherlands (Getty Images, 2011) An actual life-sized, 150-metre-long ark, built at an abandoned quay in the Netherlands (Getty Images, 2011) Using approximate animal weights and some basic physics principles, they found that such a vessel could have stayed afloat with 70,000 animals on board.

Student Benjamin Jordan, 21, from Bury St Edmonds, told the Telegraph: "Using the dimensions of the Ark and the density of the water, we were able to calculate its buoyancy force, which, according to Archimedes’ principle, is equal to the weight of the volume of fluid the object displaces.

"This meant we were then able to estimate the total mass the Ark could support before the gravitational weight would overcome the buoyancy force, causing the Ark to sink."

His fellow student Thomas Morris, 22, from Chelmsford, said: "You don’t think of the Bible necessarily as a scientifically accurate source of information, so I guess we were quite surprised when we discovered it would work. We’re not proving that it’s true, but the concept would definitely work."

The HMS Ark Royal, decommissioned in 2010 The HMS Ark Royal, decommissioned in 2010 The scientists had to hazard a guess that the "gopher" wood described in the Biblical instructions for the Ark could accurately be replaced with cypress wood, with experts uncertain what sort of timber was intended.

And they stressed that their study did not draw any conclusions about feasible living conditions for the animals on board the Ark - or indeed whether they would all fit on at all, beyond the issue of pure weight.

The students completed the study for a special topic module, in which they are encourage to bring basic physics to bear on "the weird, wonderful and everyday". Their findings were presented in a paper for the Journal of Physics Special Topics, a peer-reviewed student journal run by their department.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Lena Dunham posing for an official portrait at Sundance 2015
people
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea