Showing posts with the label assumptions

Pluto, Earth 2.0, and Life in the Universe

Pluto may have nitrogen glaciers, and the planet's air pressure is much lower than scientists expected. Kepler 452b, "Earth 2.0," isn't the first roughly Earth-size planet found in a star's habitable zone: but the star, Kepler 452, is remarkably similar to our sun. Another planet, HIP 11915b, is the first we've found that's around Jupiter's size: and orbiting its star at about the same distance as Jupiter. This is the first other planetary system that 'looks like' our Solar system. Scientists still haven't found life elsewhere in the universe: but the odds seem to be getting better that we will, eventually.... ...A 'science threatens faith' op-ed got my attention this week, so I wrote about beliefs, reasonable and otherwise, before getting around to the interesting stuff. Feel free to skip ahead to Pluto's Probable Glaciers , take a walk, or whatever suits your fancy.... More at A Catholic Citizen in America .

The 'Communist Crucifix' and Other Offbeat Gifts

I'm pretty sure that the current Pope's 'communist crucifix' will be as well-remembered in the mid-22nd century as Leo XIII's tricycle is today. Pope Francis called it "protest art," said he understands the idea behind it, and isn't offended by the gift. I think that's reasonable. (From PA, via The Telegraph, used w/o permission.) (" The table, which is called an EVO 8000, came with customised bats painted with the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes flags " ( The Telegraph ) Sometimes diplomatic gifts aren't very diplomatic. For example — the pingpong table British Prime Minister David Cameron gave the American president was a great idea, with just one problem: it was made in China. That was in 2012, so maybe the fuss about a "best of Britain" being made in China has stopped. More at A Catholic Citizen in America .

Charlie Hebdo, Chick Tracts, and Getting a Grip

As I'm writing this, 19 folks in France have died because — it's complicated. Assuming that the Kouachi brothers had religious motives for killing folks at the Charlie Hebdo offices is, I think, reasonable: but it's an assumption. Assuming that Charlie Hebdo's distinctly irreverent treatment of Islam led to this week's attack is — that's complicated, too.... More at A Catholic Citizen in America .

Habitable Worlds, Homer, and Haldane — or — Ganymede's Oceans, and Imagining Kepler-186f's Sunsets

Scientists at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo's Planetary Habitability Laboratory simulated Kepler-186f's sunsets. Others studied possibly-habitable regions in Jovian moons and around double stars. Meanwhile, some chap at Oxford trotted out opportunities for angst and dread.... ...Over the last million years, we've learned to use fire without killing ourselves, weren't cut to shreds by flint tools, and developed an alternative to horse-drawn wagons before burying London in manure. If anything, we're smarter now than we were in the 'good old days:' so I don't think that steam engines or integrated circuits will kill us all. ( November 22, 2013 ; July 9, 2011 ) The trick is using humanity's accumulated wisdom, and applying it to everyday life. Most of the time, we do a pretty good job: my opinion. Sometimes mistakes are made. Then, most of the time, we clean up the mess and move on.... More at A Catholic Citizen in America