Did you hear about the one with the long-bearded Charlton Heston-lookalike who chats with flaming bushes and uses his big honking stick to part the waters of entire seas? Well, scientists have found how the water-parting may actually have happened.
Using new computer fluid dynamics simulations, scientists at the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research have demonstrated that, indeed, the parting of the waters was possible under a specific set of conditions.
First, the team lead by NCAR's Carl Drews says that Moses and the children of Israel couldn't have been camped by the Red Sea, but in a lake next to the Mediterranean sea called the Lake of Tanis. The Red Sea is too big and deep to be parted by any known force of nature except, maybe, Steve Jobs. The lake of Tanis was created by a now-gone branch of the Nile River called the Pelusiac Nile.
Following the oceanographic data, the NCAR team created a model of the lake's basin and applied fluid dynamics to simulate the effects of strong winds. When a wind is strong enough and blows for a long enough time in the right direction, water inevitably recedes from the upwind shore, "exposing terrain formed underwater". This is known by scientists, and now you, as the wind setdown effect.
Using the computer simulation, they calculated that:
• a 100km/h easterly wind
• blowing for 12 hours straight
• could have exposed a 3-4km long and 5km wide land passageway.
Of course, this is a little far from Exodus' epic description:
And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry, and the waters were divided.
Obviously, that's exaggerated unless they mean really mean that Moses stretched out his hand for 12 hours straight, getting cramps for the next two weeks and thundering bad mood.
Or maybe - maybe the scientists are wrong and the Lord actually cracked the sea open when Moses high-fived Him, so the children of Israel, the dinosaurs and Raquel Welch could escape from Yul Brynner and his Egyptian cronies.