Showing posts with label technology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label technology. Show all posts

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

19 Mar 2017

Internet Friends, Real People



Near the end of a self-help book, the author wrote that social connections we make with others online aren't "real."

The next sentence said that online communities are "pretend communities." The author explained that they don't "come close to fulfilling the legitimate needs we have."

I understand the point he was making, but don't entirely agree.

It's true that folks I know online won't notice if I left the garage door open, or lend me a few dollars until next payday. In nearly all cases, they can't. They live too far away. Some aren't even on the same continent....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

3 Mar 2017

TRAPPIST-1: Water? Life??

TRAPPIST-1's planets may support life: or not. We don't know. Not yet.

We're pretty sure that all seven are rocky worlds, like the Solar System's inner planets.

Three are in the star's habitable zone. The inner two definitely do not have one sort of atmosphere that would make life as we know it impossible.

Even if we don't find life there, we'll learn a great deal while looking.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

24 Feb 2017

Face Transplant at Mayo

Andy Sandness wasn't born looking like that. He's lived with the consequences of a "wrong choice" for more than a decade.

Agreeing to get Mayo Clinic's first face transplant won't undo his decision. But now he has a second chance for a normal life.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

17 Feb 2017

Pollution: Still Learning

Scientists found PCBs and PBDEs in deep-sea critters, armyworms are on the march in Africa, and Mexico City's air isn't as clean as we'd hoped.

Rational concern seems reasonable....

...Last week I talked about blaming our tools for our mistakes. (February 10, 2017)

This week I'll revisit Lovecraft's "placid island of ignorance,"sort of....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

3 Feb 2017

Footprints in Ancient Ash

Scientists are pretty sure that Saccorhytus coronarius is an ancestor of lancets, sea squirts, fish, amphibians, reptiles, dinosaurs, and mammals: including us.

Much more recently, about 3,660,000 years back, five Australopithecus afarensis strolled across volcanic ash. One of them was "astonishingly larger" than any other A. afarensis we know of. Exactly what that means isn't, I think, clear. Not yet.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

27 Jan 2017

Gems, Metal, and Earth's Core

The Fire of Australia, a whacking great chunk of opal, isn't particularly interesting from a 'science' viewpoint.

But I'm human, which is probably why anything big and shiny gets my attention: including that rock.

Wrenching myself back on-topic, scientists found a stream of liquid metal flowing at the edge of Earth's core. Studying it may help us learn why Earth's magnetic field flip-flops at apparently-irregular intervals. What we'll learn is beyond me: we didn't know much about geomagnetic reversal when I started school.

We still don't, for that matter. As I keep saying, there is a very great deal left to learn.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

4 Nov 2016

Near-Earth Asteroids

Scientists spotted 2016 UR36 days before it passed by Earth. "Killer asteroids" headlines notwithstanding, we knew it would miss our planet by a comfortable margin.

Sooner or later, though, something big will hit Earth: again. We still can't prevent that, not yet.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

30 Oct 2016

Authority, Superstition, Progress


(From Diliff, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)

Authority, superstition, and misapplied technophilia (it's a real word) rate at least one post each: but that'll wait until another day. Days.

This time I'll take a quick look at all three, and then say why I don't believe in Progress with a capital P — and don't yearn for the 'good old days.'

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

16 Oct 2016

Alchemy, Science, Life, and Health

(From BBC, via Wikipedia, used w/o permission.)
("I find that nothing's ever exactly like you expect...." (Professor Richard Lazarus))

A mad scientist's lot is not a happy one. All he wants is to redefine being human: and the next thing you know, he's eating guests at his victory celebration.

Doctor Who's The Lazarus Experiment doesn't have much to do with The Devil Bat and The Brain That Wouldn't Die, apart from featuring a mad scientist — and science gone horribly wrong.

Some movies, like Fantastic Voyage and Things to Come, present science and technology as useful.

But "tampering with thing man was not supposed to know," as Mr. Squibbs put it, keeps the plot going for quite a few; like Altered Species, They Saved Hitler's Brain, and Island of Lost Souls.

Reticence, reasonable and otherwise, regarding new ideas isn't new....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

14 Oct 2016

Elastic Brains and New Tech

Maybe 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks,' but apparently the adult brain isn't nearly as rigid as scientists thought.

I'll be looking at neuroplasticity, the idea that brains can change; research that may lead to better neural interfaces; and 'brain training' games....

...We've been learning a great deal about the human brain and how it works. That's a good thing for me, since I have maintenance issues with mine....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Marriage IS a Vocation

In the midst of preparing for a religious vocation, God surprised me.  He upended my life in a single day when I met Michael, my future...