Showing posts with label science. Show all posts
Showing posts with label science. Show all posts

21 May 2017

19 May 2017

Ammonites, Dinosaurs, and Us

Today's world is remarkable for a lack of dinosaurs. Big ones, anyway. Those critters would have been among the first things someone would notice here for upwards of 200,000,000 years.

Then, about 66,000,000 years back, something awful happened. The only dinosaurs left are those little tweeting, chirping, and cawing critters we call birds.

Ammonites had been around for even longer, but whatever finished the 'thunder lizards' wiped them out, too. We showed up much more recently, and are learning that there's a very great deal of our past, and Earth's, that we don't know. Not yet....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

12 May 2017

Good Intentions

Variations on "dead men tell no tales" go back at least to 1560 or thereabouts in my language. The idea is much older.1

As advice goes, it's arguably flawed. Folks who are dead aren't chatty, but their bodies occasionally pop up at inopportune times.

I'll be talking about unmarked and unremembered graves, insane asylums, and similarly-uncheerful things. It's not all bad news, though.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

28 Apr 2017

Repeatable Results That Aren’t

I'll be talking about scientific research that may not be "fake:" but isn't reliable, either. The good news is that many scientists want to fix the problem.

I'll also take a look at truth, beauty, Copernicus, and how a science editor sees faith and science.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

23 Apr 2017

Looking for Life: Enceladus and Gliese 1132 b

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.

14 Apr 2017

Mars: Leaky Red Planet

What we're learning about Mars, and a new type of really small spacecraft, reminded me of earth, air and kilts.

Also pharaohs, Thomas Paine, and Lord Kelvin. By then I was running out of time to write something more tightly-organized.

I figured you might be interested in some of what I have written. On on the other hand, maybe not. So I added links to my ramblings before and after what I said more-or-less about the science news, and figure you can decide what's interesting and what's not.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

7 Apr 2017

Pesticides in the Water



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.

31 Mar 2017

DNA and Cancer

Apparently quiet a few sorts of cancer 'just happen,' no matter how much fiber we eat, how much we don't smoke, and how far we run each day.

Or exercise, in my case. Thanks in part to now-replaced defective hips, my running days never really happened.

That doesn't mean that we're all gonna die from random cancer. I think it means we should think about paying more attention to testing before symptoms appear....

After talking about oddly-under-reported 'cancer' news, I kept going; mostly about mutations, and why being healthy is okay...

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

26 Mar 2017

Knowledge: Opening the Gift



The quote is from Tennyson's "Ulysses," among my favorite poems; and the source for my Google Plus tagline:
"...To follow knowledge, like a sinking star,
"Beyond the utmost bound of human thought...."
("Ulysses," Tennyson (1833))
I'm not "an idle king," and take my family obligations seriously, so I won't be setting off on a voyage of discovery. Thanks to a pretty good Internet connection and research skills, I can "follow knowledge" without leaving my desk.

My shameless curiosity may need some explanation. Or maybe not, if you read my Friday 'science' posts.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

24 Mar 2017

Baryons, Gravity Waves

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.

10 Mar 2017

Earliest Life: Maybe

We're not sure how skulls found in central China fit into the family tree. They're a bit like Neanderthals, a bit like folks still living in that part of the world, and not quite like anyone else.

Other scientists found what may, or may not, be the oldest evidence of life found so far. That's in Quebec, Canada.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

3 Mar 2017

TRAPPIST-1: Water? Life??

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.

24 Feb 2017

Face Transplant at Mayo

Andy Sandness wasn't born looking like that. He's lived with the consequences of a "wrong choice" for more than a decade.

Agreeing to get Mayo Clinic's first face transplant won't undo his decision. But now he has a second chance for a normal life.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

17 Feb 2017

Pollution: Still Learning

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.

10 Feb 2017

Bogs and Bison

The good news is that bison are back in Banff, and Britain's bogs may bounce back, too. Keeping wetlands wet isn't what many folks had in mind, back in my youth.

But as I keep saying, we've learned quite a bit since then....

...This post's afterword is a quick look at how folks have perceived natural resources, plus a bit about pessimism and being human....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

3 Feb 2017

Footprints in Ancient Ash

Scientists are pretty sure that Saccorhytus coronarius is an ancestor of lancets, sea squirts, fish, amphibians, reptiles, dinosaurs, and mammals: including us.

Much more recently, about 3,660,000 years back, five Australopithecus afarensis strolled across volcanic ash. One of them was "astonishingly larger" than any other A. afarensis we know of. Exactly what that means isn't, I think, clear. Not yet.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

29 Jan 2017

Making a Universe: Why Bother?


"The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky proclaims its builder's craft." (Psalms 19:2)
Okay, so who is this message proclaimed to?

Us, apparently.

One of the ways we can learn about God is by noticing order and beauty in the universe. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 31-32, 319)

St. Bonaventure said that the universe communicates God's glory, St. Thomas Aquinas said that the Almighty creates because God is good and loving. (Catechism, 293)

I think they're right.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

27 Jan 2017

Gems, Metal, and Earth's Core

The Fire of Australia, a whacking great chunk of opal, isn't particularly interesting from a 'science' viewpoint.

But I'm human, which is probably why anything big and shiny gets my attention: including that rock.

Wrenching myself back on-topic, scientists found a stream of liquid metal flowing at the edge of Earth's core. Studying it may help us learn why Earth's magnetic field flip-flops at apparently-irregular intervals. What we'll learn is beyond me: we didn't know much about geomagnetic reversal when I started school.

We still don't, for that matter. As I keep saying, there is a very great deal left to learn.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

13 Jan 2017

Urban Evolution and Big Brains

Life, and evolution, has been happening for quite a while. Cities are new, but the same processes happen there; with slightly different results. We're learning how urban environments affect critters, and are piecing together more of humanity's story....

...I see no problem with believing that God is creating a universe that's following knowable physical laws. That's just as well, since it's what we're told to believe....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

8 Jan 2017

Epiphany Sunday



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.

On Spending

            Occasionally I watch the television show Pawn Stars , shown on the History Channel. It can provide a fascinating look at hi...