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Showing posts with the label astronomy

Oxygen, Alien Life

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We haven't found extraterrestrial life. But we're still finding planets circling other stars. Thousands of them.

Some of those planets couldn't possibly support life as we know it. But some might.

Atomic oxygen may be a good biosignature: evidence of life. That's what some scientists said in a recent paper. If they're right, we may be a step closer to finding life in this universe.

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.

Science, Faith, and Me

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This universe is bigger and older than some folks thought, a few centuries back.

I don't mind, at all. Besides, it's hardly new information. We've known that we live in a big world for a long time.
"4 Indeed, before you the whole universe is as a grain from a balance, or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth." (Wisdom 11:22) If that bit from Wisdom doesn't sound familiar, I'm not surprised. It's not in the Bibles many Americans have. The one I read and study frequently is the unexpurgated version....

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.

Cassini-Huygens Mission

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The Cassini-Huygens mission ends this week, after 13 years in orbit around Saturn. Scientists found answers to some questions they had, and uncovered new questions.

I think they'll be studying Cassini's and Huygens' data for years. Decades.

I'll take a quick look at what we've learned, and why scientists want follow-up missions to the Saturn system.

The Enceladan subsurface ocean wasn't a complete surprise.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Great American Eclipse 2017

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A Solar eclipse sweeping from coast to coast dominated Monday's news in America.

I saw headlines describing the event, weather in different states, how folks had prepared and how they reacted, and some of the science involved.

It was nice while it lasted....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Expectations

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Danae's odd view of Papal infallibility isn't accurate. (July 30, 2017)

But I'm not upset by Non Sequitur's 'Church of Danae,' particularly since I see the funny side of the cultural quirks Wiley Miller highlights.

I do, however, occasionally use Danae's distinctive theology and Eddie's "Biblical Prophecies" as a contrast to my faith.

I'm a Christian, and a Catholic.

I have well-defined views on social and legal issues: but I am not conservative or liberal. I'm Catholic.

That means acting as if Jesus, love, and people matter....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Exoplanet Frontier

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We wouldn't expect to find life on 51 Eridani b, even if were the size of Earth and at the right distance from its star.

The planet is only a bit over 20,000,000 years old.

At that point in our home's long story, the earliest critters wouldn't appear for at least another several million years.

We've discovered thousands of new worlds so far, some a bit like Earth, most not; and many not like anything in our Solar System.

Scientists are starting to make sense of what's being found, and discovering that we have a very great deal left to learn.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

New Worlds: The Search Continues

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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.

Looking for Life: Enceladus and Gliese 1132 b

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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.

Baryons, Gravity Waves

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These are exciting, or disquieting, times.

Which it is depends partly on how much a person likes living in a world where scientific knowledge is rapidly changing.

I like it, a lot....

...Since this is a "religious" blog, I'll be discussing — briefly, for me — how my faith relates to experiments using CERN's Large Hadron Collider and science in general....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

TRAPPIST-1: Water? Life??

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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.

Pollution: Still Learning

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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.

Epiphany Sunday

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Statues1 of Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar started near the clock in our living room. I took those pictures of them on Wednesday. Their trip to the nativity scene ended today, Epiphany Sunday.

We read about "magi from the east" in today's Gospel: Matthew 2:1 through 12:
"1 When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, 2 behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem,
"saying, 'Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star 3 at its rising and have come to do him homage.'"
(Matthew 2:1-2) "Magi" is how μάγοι, mágoi, looks in my native language. That's the Greek version of an Old Persian word that would sound something like "magus" if I tried pronouncing it.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.