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

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.

23 Jun 2017

Old Truths, New Aspects

The biggest critters with backbones are living today: baleen whales.

Finding the largest of them started getting harder about a century back.

We didn't quite drive the blue and fin whales to extinction, happily.

We're learning when they got so big, and maybe why.

We're also learning more about origins of dinosaurs and the domestic cat. It's not the same origin.

One happened around the time we started storing grain, the other 200,000,000 years ago. Give or take a bit.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

16 Jun 2017

Oldest Human Fossils?

Humanity's current model may be a whole lot older than we thought.

A team of scientists say that remains found in Morocco are human, Homo sapiens. The scientists also say these folks lived about 300,000 years ago.

If that's confirmed, they were around 100,000 years earlier and about 2,000 miles away from where we thought Homo sapiens showed up.

Other scientists say T. rex may not have been fluffy. It looks like the big dinosaur lost its feathers somewhere along the line.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

9 Jun 2017

GSLV, Rocket Lab: Looking Good

India's 'monster rocket,' the GSLV Mark III, successfully put the GSAT-19E satellite in orbit this week.

BBC News called some coverage of ISRO's launch "euphoric."

That's understandable. India is like America in the late 20th century, where spaceflight is involved: and is rapidly catching up. I'm not euphoric, quite, but I see what's happening as very good news for everyone.

Rocket Lab's Electron test launch wasn't entirely successful. But the company thinks they can get the system working, and plan to start commercial launches later this year.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

2 Jun 2017

New Worlds: The Search Continues

There's a huge telescope under construction in Chile: the E-ELT. When compete, astronomers using it plan plan on looking for new worlds, and observing the early universe.

We may have spotted a second super-Saturn. We'll know more about that in September....

...Telescopes have come a long way since Galileo repurposed the "Dutch perspective glass" for astronomical observation.

About Galileo, Copernicus, the sun, and the Church: it's true....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

26 May 2017

Climate Change, Whirligig Icebergs

Climate change is still in the news. Don't worry, I won't rant about impending doom, or say that Earth's climate isn't changing.

This planet's climate has been changing for several billion years. I'd be astounded if it stopped changing now.

How much we know and understand about our own past, and Earth's, is also changing. I'll be talking about that, and why I'm not upset that we're learning.

I'll also take a look at (real) climate change, why I think we are not doomed, and choices we must make soon. "Soon," in this case, is somewhere in the next millennium or so. My opinion. We really do not want to make these decisions hastily....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

21 May 2017

19 May 2017

Ammonites, Dinosaurs, and Us

Today's world is remarkable for a lack of dinosaurs. Big ones, anyway. Those critters would have been among the first things someone would notice here for upwards of 200,000,000 years.

Then, about 66,000,000 years back, something awful happened. The only dinosaurs left are those little tweeting, chirping, and cawing critters we call birds.

Ammonites had been around for even longer, but whatever finished the 'thunder lizards' wiped them out, too. We showed up much more recently, and are learning that there's a very great deal of our past, and Earth's, that we don't know. Not yet....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

12 May 2017

Good Intentions

Variations on "dead men tell no tales" go back at least to 1560 or thereabouts in my language. The idea is much older.1

As advice goes, it's arguably flawed. Folks who are dead aren't chatty, but their bodies occasionally pop up at inopportune times.

I'll be talking about unmarked and unremembered graves, insane asylums, and similarly-uncheerful things. It's not all bad news, though.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

28 Apr 2017

Repeatable Results That Aren’t

I'll be talking about scientific research that may not be "fake:" but isn't reliable, either. The good news is that many scientists want to fix the problem.

I'll also take a look at truth, beauty, Copernicus, and how a science editor sees faith and science.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

23 Apr 2017

Looking for Life: Enceladus and Gliese 1132 b

We haven't found life on — or in — Enceladus. But we've found organic compounds in the Saturnian moon's salt-water geysers.

Scientists detected an atmosphere around Gliese 1132 b, a planet about 39 light-years away. It's Earth-like, in terms of size; but too hot for life as we know it. We'll almost certainly learn a great deal, though, by studying its atmosphere....

...Abraham, Moses, and Minnesota


I take the Bible, Sacred Scripture, very seriously. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 101-133)

I don't, however, insist on believing only what I find in the Bible. That's just as well, since I live near the center of North America.

I'm pretty sure that Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Saint Peter, and the rest, didn't know that the land I live on exists. But I'm quite sure that the State of Minnesota is real: even if it's not "Biblical."...

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

14 Apr 2017

Mars: Leaky Red Planet

What we're learning about Mars, and a new type of really small spacecraft, reminded me of earth, air and kilts.

Also pharaohs, Thomas Paine, and Lord Kelvin. By then I was running out of time to write something more tightly-organized.

I figured you might be interested in some of what I have written. On on the other hand, maybe not. So I added links to my ramblings before and after what I said more-or-less about the science news, and figure you can decide what's interesting and what's not.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

7 Apr 2017

Pesticides in the Water



I live on Earth, so caring about what happens here makes sense. I've talked about enlightened self-interest, Yeats, Ehrlich, and getting a grip, before. Often, actually. (February 17, 2017; January 20, 2017; September 16, 2016; August 12, 2016)

A news item about scientists finding a particular sort of pesticide in America's drinking water got my attention. So did what they said about it: which made sense.

Whether or not this becomes a hot news item, like the "Flint Water Crisis," depends partly on how badly editors need something to angst over. My opinion.

What happened in Flint, Michigan, was real enough. There's a pretty good Wikipedia page on it. Briefly, Flint's drinking water was okay until the city started drawing from the Flint River instead of Lake Huron and the Detroit River.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

'Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.' Sunday Reflections, 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The Canaanite Woman,  Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry   [ Wikipedia ] For Readings and Reflections for the 20th Sun...