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

20 Oct 2017

LIGO/Virgo: Another First

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.

13 Oct 2017

Finding New Worlds

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.

6 Oct 2017

Einstein's Waves: New Views

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.

29 Sep 2017

Planet 9, Maybe; Nibiru, No

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.

22 Sep 2017

An Ichthyosaur Tale

A nation's schools are returning to traditional values. Whether that's good or bad news depends partly on how you see what we've learned since about 1859.

I think we've learned more about how the universe works, and that this is good news. We haven't consistently made good use of the knowledge, but that's our problem.

We've made good and bad use of everything we've learned, from using fire to writing blogs. Whether it's good or bad depends on us, not fire or the Internet. And that's another topic.

Two scientists studied an ichthyosaur that had been used as a wall decoration. What they learned adds to what we're learning about those critters. I think that's worthwhile.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

15 Sep 2017

Cassini-Huygens Mission

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.

7 Sep 2017

Labor Day SETI

I nearly missed an interesting development in SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Interesting, and as newsworthy as most Stephen Hawking stories, but probably not significant.

Professor Hawking didn't start chatting with aliens over the Labor Day weekend. That would be major news.

But an outfit he's connected with will be listening to FRB 121102. I think it's likely that they'll collect useful data, and that this isn't a prelude to 'first contact.'

Other scientists say they've spotted several planets orbiting Tau Ceti. Two of them may be just inside that star's habitable zone.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

30 Aug 2017

Harvey Over Texas

Harvey's in the news, a lot, and probably will be for days.

I noticed stuff piling up in my notes, and decided that getting part of my 'Friday' post done early was a good idea....

...News reporting generally uses more superlatives than I like.

"Unprecedented" seems to be particularly popular with BBC News editors at the moment.

I don't mind things being biggest, smallest, newest, or whatever. But I've learned to be rationally skeptical when I read that something is the biggest, worst, or most devastating thing of its kind....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

26 Aug 2017

Great American Eclipse 2017

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.

21 Jul 2017

Using Vaccines Wisely

Using drones to deliver vaccines seems reasonable for places like Vanuatu.

But vaccines won't help if folks don't know how to use them correctly, or can't.

Others avoid vaccines because they believe warnings from dubious sources.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

7 Jul 2017

Misusing Opioids

"Crisis" or not, opioid overdose is a problem. A lethal one, sometimes.

We've used one opioid, opium, for millennia. Others have been developed during my lifetime. They're all useful: and dangerous if misused.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

30 Jun 2017

Exoplanet Frontier

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.

23 Jun 2017

Old Truths, New Aspects

The biggest critters with backbones are living today: baleen whales.

Finding the largest of them started getting harder about a century back.

We didn't quite drive the blue and fin whales to extinction, happily.

We're learning when they got so big, and maybe why.

We're also learning more about origins of dinosaurs and the domestic cat. It's not the same origin.

One happened around the time we started storing grain, the other 200,000,000 years ago. Give or take a bit.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

2 Jun 2017

New Worlds: The Search Continues

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.

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.

5 May 2017

First Americans?

Scientists used new DNA screening tech to study caves in Belgium, Croatia, France, Russia, and Spain. What they found wasn't a big surprise. What's exciting about the news is that we now have another tool for unraveling our family history.

We've been pretty sure that nobody lived in North America until about two dozen millennia back. That may change, if scientists who say they found 130,000-year-old tools in San Diego County, California. Quite a few other scientists are dubious, understandably.

I took a longer look at what we've been learning about Homo naledi. They're folks who don't look like humanity's current model. We found their remains in a cave they probably used as a crypt.

Since you may be reading my stuff for the first time, I'll review why I think truth is important. All truth, not just the bits I grew up knowing about. Also why I take the Bible seriously, but not 'creation science.'...

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.

Day 1 Quitting Smoking

So as of 3pm it will have been 24 hours without a cigarette! Everyone has been so encouraging and because of that I want to document my ex...