Showing posts with label animals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label animals. Show all posts

23 Dec 2016

SETI: What If?

Contacting extraterrestrial intelligence, meeting people whose ancestors developed on another world, has been a staple of pulp fiction for generations.

Lately, it's become a matter for serious discussion. I'll be looking at an op-ed's take on how learning that we're not alone might affect folks with various religious beliefs. I'll also share what I expect: and what I don't....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

18 Nov 2016

Brain Implants and Rewired Monkeys

Someone from the Netherlands gained a small measure of freedom after learning to use a prototype computer-brain interface.

I see that, and experiments with rhesus monkeys, as a good thing....

...As usual, I'll also talk about why I don't think God is offended when we help folks....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

28 Oct 2016

Right-Handedness and Evolving Jaws

At least one Homo habilis was right-handed, about 1,800,000 years ago. It's the earliest evidence of handedness in humanity's history. So far.

Our jaws may have started out as armor plate, not gill arches. Paleontologists found a second Silurian placoderm species with surprisingly familiar jaws....

...Before talking about Homo habilis, and new evidence showing how jaws evolved, I'll do my usual explanation for why science doesn't upset me....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

12 Aug 2016

Earth Overshoot Day and Pollinators

Australia's Earth Overshoot Day happened earlier this week. It used to be called Ecological Debt Day, involves a lot of math, and assumes that Earth's glaciers, deserts, and oceans, are pretty much all the same thing. The basic idea, that we shouldn’t waste resources, isn't silly, and I'll get back to that.

Some other scientists say that we should pay attention to pollinators. I think they're right.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

5 Aug 2016

Bulldogs, Transgenics, and a Robot

English Bulldogs aren’t what they used to be: which is a problem for folks who want the breed to survive. A team of scientists says that the British mascot’s bloodline is more than a bit too pure.

Other scientists developed MouSensor, mutant mice with open slots for plug and play genetic code.

Finally, a tiny robot with rat muscles that swims like a fish.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

15 Jul 2016

Sandra and Tommy: Apes and Ethics

A court in Argentina said that Sandra the orangutan is "una persona no humana (non-human person)" in 2014.1 Or maybe 2015. I'll get back to that.

Instead of going ape over that news, I learned a little about Sandra, the Buenos Aires Zoo, and the curious case of Tommy the chimp

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

22 Apr 2016

Chameleons, Crystals: and Curiosity

Chameleons may be more famous for changing color than for their rapid-fire tongues: but today I'll be talking about both....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

12 Feb 2016

Tiny Eyeballs and Purple Socks

Some cyanobacteria — pond scum — swim toward brighter areas. Scientists didn't know how the microorganisms could tell where the light is, until now.

Other scientists discovered four new species of an odd-looking sort of critter: including one that looks like a purple sock.

I'm fascinated by this sort of thing, your experience may vary....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

29 Jan 2016

Sleep and Being Human

Humans sleep, which shouldn't be surprising. Just about all critters with brains sleep: mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish — even insects and nematodes experience something like sleep.

Poets and playwrights have written of sleep....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

17 Aug 2015

Lessons from Socks

Here is an excerpt from my journal dated 7 August 15:
"Today i cried when someone was sick. My beloved pet dog, Socks, is suddenly sick and its just too much for my heart and mind. I had to sob. Now m trying to figure out why am sobbing so much. What is it about her that makes me feel i just can't live without her. Like she is irreplaceable. Like she is the one who taught me many important lessons. Like i v not yet matched her when it comes to giving love. Like i don't care what this ache sounds like."
And i lost her in this life on 8 August 2015.
Read the full post at J.A.M.

28 Jun 2015

Saint Francis of Assisi and Brother Wolf

"...'Brother Wolf, you have killed and pillaged like a wanton criminal, and for that you deserve punishment! But accept instead the forgiveness of all the men you have wronged. Come now, here is my hand. In the name of the Holy One, come to me, and pledge that from this day on you will live at peace with men. Come!'...

"...He was only in time to see the berserker-wolf take the last hesitant step of its advance. To see it raise one metal paw — and with its steel claw-fingers gently touch the kneeling friar's extended hand...."

That's from Fred Saberhagen's "Brother Berserker." The "berserker-wolf" part of Saberhagen's tale is based on a legend in "Fioretti di San Francesco," written a century and a half after Francis of Assisi died.

"Firoetti" is probably the most popular collection of stories about Saint Francis: but "Scripta Leonis, Rufini et Angeli Sociorum S. Francisci," compiled by Brother Leo and other companions, comes from folks who actually knew him.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

26 Jun 2015

Beavers, Floods, and Yet Another Dire Prediction

Beavers are back in England, which is good news or bad news: opinions differ on that point.

Quite a few folks died when drains blocked up in Nigeria's capital. Then a gas station exploded. There's more rain in the forecast, so their troubles are far from over.

Finally, there's a new doomsday prediction in a brand-new publication. Madagascan lemurs are imperiled: but not, I think, cockroaches, rats — or humans.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

15 May 2015

Fire Ant Engineering and Bungee Nerves

The last I heard, Rubenstein's robot swarm was pretty good at forming different shapes: but not much else. (August 22, 2014)

What we're learning about how fire ants build their nests may change that. Scientists discovered that the pests use different excavating techniques, depending on what sort of soil they're in.

Other scientists found stretchy nerves in rorqual whales. The nerves are made from the same stuff found in other animals — what makes them stretchy is how the nerve fibers fold up....

...Looking up rorqual whales and baleen encouraged a (very brief) tangent on evolution. I figure I'd better review why I don't argue with the Almighty about this world's development: and don't fear a robot revolution....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

24 Apr 2015

Mass Extinctions Revisited, Moving Octopuses

We've known about the Capitanian crisis for some time: some scientists have, anyway. What's new is the idea that it may have been a major mass extinction in its own right: a sort of prequel to the Great Dying.

Other scientists solved part of the puzzle of how octopuses coordinate their arms when moving. Their research may help folks design soft robots: useful in medicine and rescue work....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

27 Feb 2015

From Trilobites to Whales: Getting Bigger

Those trilobites were huge: in the Cambrian. These days, foot-long critters are common, and not particularly big.

Scientists thought related species of animals generally got bigger as they evolved: now a team has evidence to back up that assumption. We still don't know why critters usually get bigger, though.

That, and seven "croc" species sharing the same turf in the Amazon Basin — before the Amazon was there — is what I picked for this week's post....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

30 Jan 2015

Precision-Grip Thumbs and an A 'New' Archosaur

Humans have hands. So do apes, monkeys, lemurs, and koalas. For that matter, a chameleon's feet look and act a lot like hands. But they don't have precision-grip thumbs that can line up with any finger.

We do: and apparently have had a firm grip on tools for over two million years.

Scientists had a pretty good idea about how the common ancestor of dinosaurs, crocodiles and alligators, and birds, developed. A quarter-billion-year-old fossil shows that the situation is more complicated than scientists thought....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

26 Dec 2014

Found: Genes for Fins, Paws, and Hands

Scientists found the genetic code mice use for growing paws — in spotted gar, after they thought about what happened to fish 300,000,000 years back.

An amateur fossil hunter found a complete ichthyosaur skeleton in Wales, professional fossil hunters found parts of a critter that isn't quite an ichthyosaur in China, and other paleontologists described a cat-size dinosaur that lived in what's now Montana.

Still other scientists named a Cambrian — thing — after an esteemed colleague. Quite a few Cambrian critters are just like nothing that lives on today's Earth.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

11 Jul 2014

Coping With Change for Millions of Years; Chatty Chimps

We've been learning a great deal about human origins in the last century: and discovering that there's much more to learn.

Scientists studying bones from a cave used by both Neanderthals and the current human model found DNA from a girl who was 'none of the above.' She's from a previously-unknown species, or sub-species, of human

Other scientists discovered that chimpanzees communicate in an unexpectedly 'human' way.

We live in an exciting era: or a disturbing one, depending on a person's assumptions and preferences....

...Denisovans lived in or near the Altai mountains about 41,000 years before we started playing baseball. Some scientists call them a different species, others say they're a subspecies of homo sapiens sapiens. Either way, they're part of the human family.

We don't know much about the Denisovans yet, apart from a bit of finger bone, two teeth, and a toe bone. That's not much to work with: but scientists found intact DNA in the bones: enough to trace Denisovan descendants among Melanesians and Aboriginal Australians. The odds are pretty good that many or most folks in southern and southeast Asia are related to Denisovans....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

11 Apr 2014

The Oldest Known Heart; Tweaking Bacteria; and Looking for Life in the Universe

A 520,000,000 year old fossilized heart caught my eye this week: so did genetically engineered bacteria, and the continuing search for life in the universe....

...I don't need an iPad to be Catholic: which is just as well, since I don't own one. My son has smartphone, and that's another topic.

Catholics coped quite well without WiFi gadgets in their pockets: and without pockets, for that matter. But our faith doesn't depend on avoiding new ideas and technology.

We've even been at the cutting edge of new tech a few times: like Gothic cathedrals, stone buildings with walls made mostly of stained glass. The pointed arches, ribbed vaults, and flying buttresses of Gothic architecture are traditional now, but 12th century traditionalists were horrified at the 'barbarous' style.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

7 Nov 2011

'Can you pray for my sick dog?'

The Holy Family with a Bird, Murillo, painted 1650.

I was in our parish church in Dublin this afternoon praying when I saw a young man of about 19 come in, kneel in the front pew for a couple of minutess, light a candle in front of the latar of the Blessed Virgin and then leave. I was thinking that it was a hopeful sign to see a young person do this. Indeed, yesterday at Sunday Mass, while the congregation at the Mass at 11am wasn't great, there were some young people present.

A few minutes latr thee young man came, approached me and told me his dog was sick. I wouldn't describe him as distressed but he was upset. I asked hiim how old his dog was and he said 'three'. He also gave me the dog's name, 'Sam'. I asked him if he had taken Sam to the vet. 'He's with him right now', he told me.

I mentioned two saints to the young man, whose name I asked but won't mention here, who had the gift of healing animals, St Francis and St Martin de Porres. (I'm not certain that St Francis actually healed them but many churches bless pets on his feast day). The young man was happy with this and went off. I prayed of him and for little Sam.

St Martin de Porres is sometimes depicted with a broom, a dog, cat, mouse and bird at his feet. He had the gift of healing persons and their animals, as the picture above suggests. (If the picture disappears click on the link. I'm not sure whether or not it's copyright but the link brings you to the source).Probably health authorities today in the West would be horrified to see animals outside a hospital ward!
Full post here.

As the Morning Rising: Prodigal - Lenten Poem

As the Morning Rising: Prodigal - Lenten Poem : Prodigal Sometime between now and Easter I will die to my old self Rise to the challenge...