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Showing posts with the label in the news

Brains and Ethics

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Revived pig brains, memory backups and ethical questions have been in the news.

It sounds like a B movie scenario, but the research is quite real. So are the questions.

I'll be talking about research, technology, and I'm glad that folks at MIT decided that brain backups were a dubious goal.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Editing Genes, Ethically

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Scientists at England's John Innes Centre learned how to grow plants that produce polio vaccine. That sounds like a very good idea, particularly since the process should work for other vaccines, too.

The other 'genetic engineering' news raises issues that can spark strong feelings: and should encourage serious thought.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Sane Environmentalism

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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.

Adam and the Animals

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I think pursuing knowledge and truth is a good idea. That's probably why Tennyson's "Ulysses" is one of my favorite poems.

It's the source of my Google Plus tagline: "To follow knowledge like a sinking star, Beyond the utmost bound of human thought." (March 26, 2017)

I'll be talking about science, faith, and why I see no problem with admiring God's work. Also the Flat Earth Society's origin, and my own silly notion: a doughnut-shaped Earth.

But first, an excerpt from Apollodorus that reminded me of the pottery metaphor in Genesis 2:7:
"...Prometheus moulded men out of water and earth and gave them also fire...." (Apollodorus, The Library, Book 1, 1.7.1; via The Theoi Classical Texts Library) Bible translations I grew up with often called the material in Genesis 2:7 "clay." The Hebrew the word is אדמה, adamah/adama. It means ground, land, or earth — dirt.

I use the The New American Bible these days, where Genesis 2:7 says…

Climate Change, Attitudes

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I'll be talking about Earth's climate, China's pollution problems, and icebergs: including one the size of Delaware. The big berg broke off from Antarctica this week.

The recent G20 meeting was mostly about economics, not climate change; but that didn't deter the usual colorful protestors.

I'm not complaining about folks at the fancy-dress street party in Hamburg. If nothing else, they added a touch of human interest to an otherwise-dry international business meeting....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Climate Change, Whirligig Icebergs

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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.

Pesticides in the Water

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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.

Cryonics, Smallpox, and Pope Pius VII

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I remember when heart transplants were front-page international news, not local human interest stories: and when polio vaccinations were new. I really do not miss the 'good old days.' I remember them, and they weren't.

I also remember when cryonics was 'science fiction stuff,' not a highly-experimental and controversial medical procedure. I probably won't live long enough to see whether it works. But if you're young enough: you might....

...Since I'll be talking about life, death, and medical practices, I'd better start by saying that I'm a Christian: a Catholic.

Like it says in the Apostles Creed, "I believe in ... the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting." I'll be explaining why I don't see a conflict between that belief and trying to save lives....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Chameleons, Crystals: and Curiosity

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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.

Syrian Migrants Traveled With the Pope

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A dozen folks, three families, rode back to the Vatican with Pope Francis.

I think that's a good thing, since their homes in Syria aren't there any more. They survived, obviously, and had made it as far as Lesbos,1 an island in the Aegean Sea.

"A Gesture of Welcome"

(From AFP, via BBC News, used w/o permission.)
("The migrants are travelling on the same plane as the Pope back to the Vatican"
(BBC News))

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Starshot, SETI, and the Universe

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We may be within a generation of sending probes on flyby missions to other stars, high-energy jets from several distant galaxies all point in the same direction, and we're learning more about hot super-earths.

That sort of thing fascinates me, your experience may vary.

Meanwhile, SETI researchers will be checking out red dwarfs: which may be more promising places to look for neighbors than we thought.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

BEAM Prototype Habitat, Bigelow's Plans

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The BEAM Bigelow Aerospace habitat module, will be launched toward the International Space Station (ISS) today: if all goes well.

BEAM is packed in the Dragon spacecraft's pressurized section. This cargo run also carries supplies for the ISS crew, and for several dozen of the roughly 250 experiments planned for Expeditions 47 and 48. (SpaceX press kit)

After getting attached to the ISS and inflated, BEAM will mostly just sit there for at least two years: empty except when someone in the ISS takes samples and swaps out radiation sensors. I think that's a good idea, since BEAM is testing technology for Bigelow Aerospace rental properties in low Earth orbit.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Synthetic Life, DNA Profiles

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Syn 3.0, developed by the Ventner Institute, has fewer genes than any 'wild' bacteria. The 'artificial' microcritter is another important step in understanding how life works.

On the other side of the Atlantic, folks in the United Kingdom will be deciding what to do about a bureaucratic SNAFU and their national DNA database....

...I've seen attitudes toward science and technology shift from silly optimism to equally-silly pessimism.

I am reasonably certainly that mutant safflowers won't destroy civilization. On the other hand, ethics matter as much now as they ever did....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Reaching for the Stars

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Scientists and engineers in BAE Systems' Project Greenglow are trying to control, or sidestep, gravity.

Back on my side of the Atlantic, scientists at NASA's Eagleworks say they've successfully tested prototype RF resonant cavity thrusters and a warp field generator. Other scientists are skeptical. Very skeptical....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Fossils, DNA, and Being Human

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Some scientists say they've learned that a 300,000,000-year-old whatsit was a very early version of lampreys.

That, Neanderthal DNA, and a newly-analyzed Tyrannosaur, gave me something to talk about today....

...I'll do my usual explanation of why God's design choices don't offend me: but first, a recap of why I don't miss the 'good old days.'...

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Lizard-Fish, Fungi, and Change

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We're learning more about why ichthyosaurs died out. Climate change was almost certainly involved: but it wasn't our fault, and I'll get back to that.

Long before the first not-quite-an-ichthyosaur made the transition from land back to Earth's ocean, a tiny little fungus came ashore and started turning rock into soil....

...First, though, my usual spiel about why I'm not upset that Earth isn't flat, Adam and Eve aren't German, and poetry isn't science....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Seeking New Worlds, New Life - - -

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Analyzing what we've been learning about other planetary systems, some scientists say that maybe Earth is unusual, after all: maybe.

Other scientists found another maybe-habitable planet less than 14 light-years away. Maybe planets like Earth are common: again, maybe....

...I like living in a world where last year's list of known planetary systems is obsolete. Some folks don't. I'll talk about Copernicus and Sacred Scripture — right after my usual harangue about using our brains....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Glyptodonts and Climate Change

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Climate change is in the news: again. Scientists tracked where tiny critters called phytoplankton have been living: which may help us understand what's happening in Earth's ocean.

Other scientists reconstructed glyptodont DNA: confirming that the Volkswagen-size mammals were armadillos: big armadillos....

...Being offended by our increasing knowledge of how this universe works is an option: but not a sensible one, I think. Neither is getting upset over what sort of creatures we are....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Space Archaeologist, 55 Cancri e

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A headline, "TED 2016: Space archaeologist wins $1m to find hidden sites" caught my eye this week, and so did news about a very hot Super-Earth's atmosphere....

...Science? In a 'religious' blog?? During Lent??!

I don't see a problem with that. But as I keep saying — I think this universe is billions, not thousands, of years old; Earth isn't flat; Adam and aren't German; poetry isn't science; and thinking is not a sin....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Tiny Eyeballs and Purple Socks

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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.