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Showing posts with the label science news

Evolution and Tools

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Finding stone tools isn't remarkable. Folks have been making, and occasionally losing, tools for a long time.

Scientists think folks upgraded their tech to deal with a changing climate.

Or maybe someone else who had done so moved in....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Coming: Robots

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The Texas University robot football squad probably won't go pro, replacing the Dallas Cowboys or Houston Texans.

They're too small, for starters.

But they're helping researchers develop robot office assistants. Smart ones. Maybe as effective as today's human office gofers.

I'll be looking at robots, humanoid and otherwise; tech and attitudes; what I see coming, and why I think we'll deal with whatever happens.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Early Birds, Unisex Fish

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We still don't know exactly how birds got their wings. Literally and figuratively. But we're learning more about when and how they started.

Scientists in Europe and China found fossils of birds that lived roughly 120,000,000 years ago.

Other scientists found genes with some 'feather' instructions in alligators. That's old news. What's new is that one team coaxed alligator embryo scales into growing as something like very simple feathers. Part of a simple feather, anyway.

I'll be talking about those birds, alligator feathers, and why discovering something new doesn't upset me. Also a chimp, the French Revolution something Benjamin Franklin said and evolution....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Art, Evolution and Aquinas

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Someone left stenciled handprints on Maltravieso Cave wall. Quite a few 'someones,' apparently.

Marking a wall can leave adolescent graffiti or murals like Orozco's "Omnisciencia."

I think it's a very "human" thing to do. So do scientists. That's why most figured the folks who made cave paintings were like us: Homo Sapiens. That may be so, but it's not what a new analysis shows.

If those stencils are as old as the research says they are, we're going to be reevaluating what "human" means. That got me thinking about art, being human, and a new species of bird that really is new. They didn't exist until a few decades back.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Mars and Beyond

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Falcon Heavy's test flight last week wasn't perfect. But I'll call it a success. That's good news for SpaceX. Not my opinion: the largely-successful flight.

The test flight's dummy payload included an actual dummy. "Starman" is that mannequin wearing a spacesuit at the wheel of a red Tesla roadster.

I'll be talking about that, how I see the news, technology, and humanity's new horizon....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Firestorm Comet?

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Scientists figure a comet started breaking up about 12,800 years back. Nothing unusual there. Many comets break up while they're this close to our sun.

This time Earth got in the way before the fragments spread out much.

Fire rained from the sky, consuming forest and meadow alike.

Sounds a bit like Genesis 19:1, now that I think of it. Except we didn't start building cities until a few millennia later. Or maybe we haven't found our first cities yet. And that's another topic or two....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Smoke and Monkeys

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Folks in the United Kingdom may be changing their rules for wood and coal fires. Or maybe not. It depends on whether their rules match Europe's.

Volkswagen paid researchers to mistreat monkeys and people. Or maybe not. We know the research happened. It's complicated, a bunch of folks are upset, and I'll get back to that.

Fireplaces, outdoor grills, and coal-burning furnaces aren't basically bad. Neither is learning how stuff in the air affects animals. And us.

But having smoky fires upwind of our neighbors isn't a good idea. Neither is mistreating critters. Or people.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Chasing Butterflies and Truth

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Which came first? The butterfly or the flower? And how did flowers happen at all?

The question hasn't been answered yet, not quite. But scientists are closer to finding answers. Meanwhile, wondering whether chickens or eggs came first gives philosophers something to do.

Aristotle came up with an answer. So did Anaximander, who figured thunder and lightning were natural events: not evidence of divine anger issues. I'll talk about those two, beetles, and Orlando Ferguson's flat Earth map.

Also butterflies, flowers and why I think pursuing truth and seeking God work together.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Science in 2017

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It may not be an 'official' end-of-year custom, but many folks make lists as New Year approaches.

BBC News made a list of eight "amazing science stories" of 2017.

I can see how the stories are "amazing," from their viewpoint, and not surprised that they saw a world politics item as scientific. On the other hand, they included one of the 'gravitational wave' stories, so I won't complain.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

No More Sunspots?

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Sunspots come and go in an 11-year cycle. Our sun has acted that way for centuries. With a few exceptions.

The sunspot cycle changed about 23 years back. I think we'll learn a great deal by studying what's happening, but at this point scientists aren't quite sure what to make of the new 'normal.'

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Still Seeking Earth 2.0

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We've known about 55 Cancri e since 2004.

It may have lakes and rivers of lava. But that's probably not what keeps its night side hot enough to melt copper.

Ross 128 b, discovered this year, is a bit more massive than Earth, warm enough for liquid water, and too hot. It's not quite 'Earth 2.0,' but it may support life....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Visitor from the Stars

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"Scientists thought ‘Oumuamua was a comet when they spotted it last month.

"Follow-up observations showed it was more like an asteroid: and going too fast to be from the solar system.

"‘Oumuamua is from interstellar space. It's the first object of its kind we've seen.

"What scientists are learning about ‘Oumuamua tells us a bit about other planetary systems, and raises intriguing new questions...."

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Antarctic 'Hot' Spots

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Some scientists say there'll be more carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere this year. They may be right.

I think the information's interesting, and may be meaningful. But I'm pretty sure this isn't a portent of doom.

Neither is a new and more detailed map of Antarctica's bedrock temperatures.

I'll be talking about that, the Halley VI base getting back in operation: and why I think we should keep learning about how Earth's climate works.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

A Century of Science

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BBC News posted what a scientist thinks about we've learned in the last hundred years. That's hardly news.

What's remarkable is that he didn't go on to say that the sea will catch fire, or that if we don't recycle with greater zeal all the birds will die.

In short, that we're doomed. Doomed! DOOMED, I TELL YOU!!!!!

Not that BBC News goes in for that sort of thing. They're very British. Even so, an essentially upbeat look at a century of science and technology is somewhat remarkable.

The way I see it, science and technology are tools. Whether we use them to help or hurt each other is up to us.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Swatting Fast Flies

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We're a lot smarter than flies, which probably helps us swat them.

But the insects are very good at being somewhere else when the flyswatter or newspaper hits whatever they were on.

I've run into a few reasonable speculations. One was that flies are hypersensitive to air movements, and feel an approaching object. That may be part of the answer.

Scientists found another piece to that puzzle recently. "Recently" by my standards, that is. Flies live a whole lot faster than we do. Or, in a fly's eyes, we move in slow motion....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

LIGO/Virgo: Another First

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Another gravitational wave observation gave scientists the best evidence yet about one aspect of merging stars.

On August 17, 2017, folks with the LIGO/Virgo collaboration observed three clusters of gravitational waves.

This time astronomers found an infrared, visible, and X-ray event near where the gravitational wave source.

The August gravitational wave observation, GW170817, is the first one where astronomers found electromagnetic waves coming from the same spot. It's a very big deal.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Finding New Worlds

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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.

Einstein's Waves: New Views

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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.

Planet 9, Maybe; Nibiru, No

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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.

An Ichthyosaur Tale

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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.