Showing posts with label science. Show all posts
Showing posts with label science. Show all posts

13 Oct 2017

Finding New Worlds

We could detect oxygen in Proxima Centauri b's atmosphere. It's a biosignature, but not proof of life.

Some extrasolar planets are like Earth, almost. Many are unlike anything in the Solar System.

I'll be looking at recently-discovered worlds; some almost familiar, others wonderfully unexpected. Also an informal 'top 10 best exoplanets' list.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

6 Oct 2017

Einstein's Waves: New Views

Einstein's theories gave scientists good reasons for thinking gravitational waves exist. A century later, instruments detected the elusive radiation.

Three American scientists won this year's Nobel Prize in Physics for work that led to the discovery.

Observatories in America and Italy have detected three more gravitational wave signals. What they learned wasn't quite what they expected....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

29 Sep 2017

Planet 9, Maybe; Nibiru, No

The world didn't end last Saturday. That's nothing new, and neither is another fizzled End Times prediction.

I'll be talking about how a current End Times prediction affected someone whose name is the same as the wannabe prophet's; but is an entertainer, not a doomsayer.

I'll also take a look at the continuing, and serious, search for Planet 9; predictions involving close encounters of the cometary kind; and what we're learning about the outer Solar System....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

22 Sep 2017

An Ichthyosaur Tale

A nation's schools are returning to traditional values. Whether that's good or bad news depends partly on how you see what we've learned since about 1859.

I think we've learned more about how the universe works, and that this is good news. We haven't consistently made good use of the knowledge, but that's our problem.

We've made good and bad use of everything we've learned, from using fire to writing blogs. Whether it's good or bad depends on us, not fire or the Internet. And that's another topic.

Two scientists studied an ichthyosaur that had been used as a wall decoration. What they learned adds to what we're learning about those critters. I think that's worthwhile.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

15 Sep 2017

Cassini-Huygens Mission

The Cassini-Huygens mission ends this week, after 13 years in orbit around Saturn. Scientists found answers to some questions they had, and uncovered new questions.

I think they'll be studying Cassini's and Huygens' data for years. Decades.

I'll take a quick look at what we've learned, and why scientists want follow-up missions to the Saturn system.

The Enceladan subsurface ocean wasn't a complete surprise.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

10 Sep 2017

More Disasters

The good news is that folks on the Gulf Coast probably won't be affected by Hurricane Irma. Not directly.

Cleanup and rebuilding there is taking a back seat to news of this weekend's hurricane and Mexico's major earthquake.

I'll be talking about this week's disasters, and how folks deal with them. Also faith, reasonable and otherwise, and a little science....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

7 Sep 2017

Labor Day SETI

I nearly missed an interesting development in SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Interesting, and as newsworthy as most Stephen Hawking stories, but probably not significant.

Professor Hawking didn't start chatting with aliens over the Labor Day weekend. That would be major news.

But an outfit he's connected with will be listening to FRB 121102. I think it's likely that they'll collect useful data, and that this isn't a prelude to 'first contact.'

Other scientists say they've spotted several planets orbiting Tau Ceti. Two of them may be just inside that star's habitable zone.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

30 Aug 2017

Harvey Over Texas

Harvey's in the news, a lot, and probably will be for days.

I noticed stuff piling up in my notes, and decided that getting part of my 'Friday' post done early was a good idea....

...News reporting generally uses more superlatives than I like.

"Unprecedented" seems to be particularly popular with BBC News editors at the moment.

I don't mind things being biggest, smallest, newest, or whatever. But I've learned to be rationally skeptical when I read that something is the biggest, worst, or most devastating thing of its kind....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

26 Aug 2017

Great American Eclipse 2017

A Solar eclipse sweeping from coast to coast dominated Monday's news in America.

I saw headlines describing the event, weather in different states, how folks had prepared and how they reacted, and some of the science involved.

It was nice while it lasted....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

23 Aug 2017

Expectations



Danae's odd view of Papal infallibility isn't accurate. (July 30, 2017)

But I'm not upset by Non Sequitur's 'Church of Danae,' particularly since I see the funny side of the cultural quirks Wiley Miller highlights.

I do, however, occasionally use Danae's distinctive theology and Eddie's "Biblical Prophecies" as a contrast to my faith.

I'm a Christian, and a Catholic.

I have well-defined views on social and legal issues: but I am not conservative or liberal. I'm Catholic.

That means acting as if Jesus, love, and people matter....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

20 Aug 2017

Taking God Seriously



We live in a big world. We've known that for a long time, and have been impressed.
"How great are your works, LORD! How profound your designs!" (Psalms 92:6)
But impressive as what we see is, God is greater: almighty, infinite, eternal. Ineffable, beyond what can be expressed in words.

That's pretty much what God told Moses in the 'burning bush' interview:
"'But,' said Moses to God, 'if I go to the Israelites and say to them, "The God of your ancestors has sent me to you," and they ask me, "What is his name?" what do I tell them?' "God replied to Moses: I am who I am. Then he added: This is what you will tell the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you." (Exodus 3:13-14)
Moses said "but" three times before their talk was over. I've talked about him before, and other prophets. Mary also asked a question: a sensible one. I get the impression that her reaction was calmer than theirs.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

18 Aug 2017

Editing Genes, Ethically

Scientists at England's John Innes Centre learned how to grow plants that produce polio vaccine. That sounds like a very good idea, particularly since the process should work for other vaccines, too.

The other 'genetic engineering' news raises issues that can spark strong feelings: and should encourage serious thought.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

11 Aug 2017

Sane Environmentalism

I think being concerned about air quality, recycling, and other environmental issues, makes sense.

But I don't think only being concerned about the environment is a good idea. People matter, too. I don't think it's an either/or thing.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

6 Aug 2017

Navel-Gazing in August



Someone said "write what you know." It was definitely Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Nathan Englander, or somebody else.

I've mostly seen the quote applied to writing fiction.

Apparently some folks assume that it means authors should only write stories about events they've experienced. That may help explain why fantasy and science fiction stories aren't taken seriously in some circles, and entirely too seriously in others.

Others, including John Briggs, Diablo Cody/Brook Busey-Maurio and Jason Gots, say it means using the author's emotional memories when telling stories. They're professional writers, so I figure they know what they're talking about.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

4 Aug 2017

A Mixed Bag

I picked a mix from 'science news' this week: tardigrade genes, fertility fears, and what is probably the world's oldest living culture.

Folks in Western civilization have known about our neighbors in Australia for about four centuries.

Understanding their beliefs became easier, I think, when some of us realized that respecting them makes sense.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

28 Jul 2017

Fukushima, Six Years Later

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster could have been much worse. But it may have been avoidable.

Meltdowns and non-nuclear explosions at the power plant didn't directly kill anyone.

More than 40 patients who were evacuated from a nearby hospital died later. They had been critically ill. Getting rushed away from a nuclear incident in progress wouldn't have been good for their health.

Three former power company executives now face criminal charges.

The earthquake, tsunami, and meltdowns in 2011 killed nearly 16,000 folks and left many others homeless. Many folks still can't return to their homes. Quakes happen. This one was nobody's fault.

What happened in Fukushima is another matter. I'll be looking at the disaster, what's happened since, and why questioning authority can be a good idea.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

23 Jul 2017

Adam and the Animals



I think pursuing knowledge and truth is a good idea. That's probably why Tennyson's "Ulysses" is one of my favorite poems.

It's the source of my Google Plus tagline: "To follow knowledge like a sinking star, Beyond the utmost bound of human thought." (March 26, 2017)

I'll be talking about science, faith, and why I see no problem with admiring God's work. Also the Flat Earth Society's origin, and my own silly notion: a doughnut-shaped Earth.

But first, an excerpt from Apollodorus that reminded me of the pottery metaphor in Genesis 2:7:
"...Prometheus moulded men out of water and earth and gave them also fire...." (Apollodorus, The Library, Book 1, 1.7.1; via The Theoi Classical Texts Library)
Bible translations I grew up with often called the material in Genesis 2:7 "clay." The Hebrew the word is אדמה, adamah/adama. It means ground, land, or earth — dirt.

I use the The New American Bible these days, where Genesis 2:7 says that God formed Adam "out of the dust of the ground." The meaning seems clear enough. We're made from the stuff of this world and God's breath....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

21 Jul 2017

Using Vaccines Wisely

Using drones to deliver vaccines seems reasonable for places like Vanuatu.

But vaccines won't help if folks don't know how to use them correctly, or can't.

Others avoid vaccines because they believe warnings from dubious sources.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

16 Jul 2017

"A Writer Who is Catholic"



My #3 daughter has some of my qualities, and attitudes.

About four years back now, she vented frustration about writers, faith, and assumptions. She wasn't nearly as loud as I've often been during 'vents.'

When folks learned she's a writer, they'd often say something like 'oh, good: we need more Catholic writers.'

She'd say something like "I'm a writer who is Catholic, not a 'Catholic writer.'"

I know what she means. She isn't writing another 'lives of the Saints,' or book of prayers. She's a Catholic who writes....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

14 Jul 2017

Climate Change, Attitudes

I'll be talking about Earth's climate, China's pollution problems, and icebergs: including one the size of Delaware. The big berg broke off from Antarctica this week.

The recent G20 meeting was mostly about economics, not climate change; but that didn't deter the usual colorful protestors.

I'm not complaining about folks at the fancy-dress street party in Hamburg. If nothing else, they added a touch of human interest to an otherwise-dry international business meeting....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

How to be a waffle: the art of compartmentalization

There is a book called,  Guys are Waffles, Girls are Spaghetti  by Chad Eastham , which a review on Goodreads posits as the healthier a...