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Showing posts with the label science

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.

Spirit Photographs

Evolution and Tools

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Finding stone tools isn't remarkable. Folks have been making, and occasionally losing, tools for a long time.

Scientists think folks upgraded their tech to deal with a changing climate.

Or maybe someone else who had done so moved in....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Early Birds, Unisex Fish

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We still don't know exactly how birds got their wings. Literally and figuratively. But we're learning more about when and how they started.

Scientists in Europe and China found fossils of birds that lived roughly 120,000,000 years ago.

Other scientists found genes with some 'feather' instructions in alligators. That's old news. What's new is that one team coaxed alligator embryo scales into growing as something like very simple feathers. Part of a simple feather, anyway.

I'll be talking about those birds, alligator feathers, and why discovering something new doesn't upset me. Also a chimp, the French Revolution something Benjamin Franklin said and evolution....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Being Evangelical

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I'm a Christian. I take my faith seriously. That's why I think part of my job is evangelizing. Which doesn't necessarily mean I'm an evangelist.

For some folks, an evangelist is someone like Saints Mark, Luke and John. "The Evangelist" often gets added to their name. Saint Matthew is an evangelist, too. So are Saints like Augustine of Hippo, Francis of Assisi, Francis Xavier and Thérèse of Lisieux.1

"Evangelist" has quite a few meanings. Merriam-Webster says it's a Protestant minister or someone who enthusiastically advocates something. Oxforddictionaries.com adds "...the writer of one of the four Gospels...."

I don't know about the 'enthusiastic' part, but I think sharing what I believe is a good idea.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Art, Evolution and Aquinas

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Someone left stenciled handprints on Maltravieso Cave wall. Quite a few 'someones,' apparently.

Marking a wall can leave adolescent graffiti or murals like Orozco's "Omnisciencia."

I think it's a very "human" thing to do. So do scientists. That's why most figured the folks who made cave paintings were like us: Homo Sapiens. That may be so, but it's not what a new analysis shows.

If those stencils are as old as the research says they are, we're going to be reevaluating what "human" means. That got me thinking about art, being human, and a new species of bird that really is new. They didn't exist until a few decades back.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

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.

Mars and Beyond

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Falcon Heavy's test flight last week wasn't perfect. But I'll call it a success. That's good news for SpaceX. Not my opinion: the largely-successful flight.

The test flight's dummy payload included an actual dummy. "Starman" is that mannequin wearing a spacesuit at the wheel of a red Tesla roadster.

I'll be talking about that, how I see the news, technology, and humanity's new horizon....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Firestorm Comet?

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Scientists figure a comet started breaking up about 12,800 years back. Nothing unusual there. Many comets break up while they're this close to our sun.

This time Earth got in the way before the fragments spread out much.

Fire rained from the sky, consuming forest and meadow alike.

Sounds a bit like Genesis 19:1, now that I think of it. Except we didn't start building cities until a few millennia later. Or maybe we haven't found our first cities yet. And that's another topic or two....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Smoke and Monkeys

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Folks in the United Kingdom may be changing their rules for wood and coal fires. Or maybe not. It depends on whether their rules match Europe's.

Volkswagen paid researchers to mistreat monkeys and people. Or maybe not. We know the research happened. It's complicated, a bunch of folks are upset, and I'll get back to that.

Fireplaces, outdoor grills, and coal-burning furnaces aren't basically bad. Neither is learning how stuff in the air affects animals. And us.

But having smoky fires upwind of our neighbors isn't a good idea. Neither is mistreating critters. Or people.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Chasing Butterflies and Truth

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Which came first? The butterfly or the flower? And how did flowers happen at all?

The question hasn't been answered yet, not quite. But scientists are closer to finding answers. Meanwhile, wondering whether chickens or eggs came first gives philosophers something to do.

Aristotle came up with an answer. So did Anaximander, who figured thunder and lightning were natural events: not evidence of divine anger issues. I'll talk about those two, beetles, and Orlando Ferguson's flat Earth map.

Also butterflies, flowers and why I think pursuing truth and seeking God work together.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

God Doesn't Make Junk

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We live in a material world. I like it, a lot. Quite a few folks have felt the same way.
"You adorn the year with your bounty; your paths drip with fruitful rain.
"The meadows of the wilderness also drip; the hills are robed with joy." (Psalms 65:12-13) Some get overly impressed. Others apparently think it's icky.

Earnest folks have celebrated and condemned it. Not necessarily the same folks, and probably not at the same time. Not usually. That'd be a problem by itself.

Plato thought about the reality we live in, artists have been inspired by it.

That's given us a theory of forms, George Harrison's "Living in the Material World" and Madonna's "Like a Virgin" albums, and the "Material World" 1990s sitcom.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Alien Life: Notions and Research

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Scientists have been discussing alien life for some time: where it could be, what it might be like, and how we could find it.

Quite a few non-scientists have been talking about the same thing.

Some have pretty good grip on what we've been learning since Aristotle got famous and Anaxagoras didn't.

Others have contributed to supermarket tabloid covers. And made informed discussion of extraterrestrial intelligence harder.

Or more interesting, depending on your viewpoint. I see it as a bit of both.

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.

California Fires, 2017

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The good news is that only a small fraction of California is on fire or incinerated.

The bad news is that this year's California wildfires have been big, destructive, and aren't over yet.

I'll be talking about a few of the fires, why I think troubles aren't over for folks living in California, a little about wildfires in general. Also how I see disasters, God, nature and beliefs: sensible and otherwise.

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.

Antarctic 'Hot' Spots

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Some scientists say there'll be more carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere this year. They may be right.

I think the information's interesting, and may be meaningful. But I'm pretty sure this isn't a portent of doom.

Neither is a new and more detailed map of Antarctica's bedrock temperatures.

I'll be talking about that, the Halley VI base getting back in operation: and why I think we should keep learning about how Earth's climate works.

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.