Tag: Science

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The Science of the Gaps

 

book-sand-smallThe tension between religion and science, at a sociological level, does not exist. There are plenty of religious scientists and scientific believers, and they do not walk around all day clutching their foreheads trying to relieve the pressure of intense cognitive dissonance. On the contrary, the obvious point that there cannot be two contradictory truths denotes an agreeable and elegant unity between the two approaches, whether one views them as a tightly intersected Venn diagram or as non-overlapping magisteria that deal with separate but equally-valid truths.

All is not as peaceful as it first appears, however. With the decline of popular religious feeling and the ascendance of popular science, many religious people have come to view the claims of religion – and indeed, everything else – in a scientific light. It is not so much that there is science and there is religion and they are both avenues to the truth(s), but rather that science is all knowledge but religion can exist comfortably as its subset, as the rational belief in the irrational or whatever.

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The Night of Fire

 

Blaise Pascal, mathematician, scientist, inventor, and philosopher, a man who from the age of 16 had been making historic contributions to mathematics and the physical sciences, who, despite a sickly constitution and a capacity for intense abstraction nonetheless oversaw the material construction of his experiments and inventions with great zest, was barely past 30 when saw something unexpected one raw November night. He saw fire. The vision of it so branded him that he sewed the record he made of it, his Memorial, into his coat, carrying it with him the rest of his life:

Memorial, Pascal

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DNC panel actually doesn’t know whether men can have abortions?

 

The Washington Free Beacon reports:

The Atlantic and Refinery29 hosted a panel discussion entitled “Young Women Rising: America’s Next Top Voter?” during the Democratic National Convention, Tuesday evening. Following a 30-minute conversation on “intersectionality” and millennial feminism, a reporter asked the panel for its thoughts on reproductive rights and women’s health issues for men who ascribe to a female gender identity. Ayanna Pressley, a Boston city councilor at-large, said the issue of men who identify as women getting abortions is all about “elevated consciousness.”

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Science, Religion, or Art: There Can Only Be One (According to Some Movies)

 

galileoOkay, okay, I understand Drama is about Conflict. So when you make a scientist a hero in your film, you usually want to have someone oppose him (or her). And who could be better to have as an adversary of Truth than a power-hungry, know-nothing clergyman (and yes, it must be a man). In quite a number of films it seems like there is a choice between Science and Religion and there must be only one (a lot like Highlander, in that way).

In films about Galileo, like, well, 1975’s Galileo based on the play by Bertolt Brecht, the scientist is a good guy only concerned with discovering how the universe works. He really doesn’t care about religion or politics or his own personal gain; whereas the Roman Catholic Church hates science because they believe it will ultimately disprove God, the Bible, and the Creation Story. Not that the Pope, Bishops, and Priests care about the Truth of such things, but if the Church falls, they will lose their power and position — the only thing they do care about. Forget that the historical story is much more complex than that. Galileo’s main enemies were other scientists, and the church approved of much of what Galileo wrote before they condemned it. But don’t let the truth get in the way of a story about the truth.

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Monday Morning Science: The Order of Things

 
900px-TrES-2b
By David A. Aguilar (CfA), CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16206794

If it seems that the last decade has brought us one discovery of exoplanets — i.e., planets orbiting stars other than our own — after another, you’re not wrong. The field is only a few decades old and, in that time, we’ve gone from knowing very little about a handful of other systems, to a knowing good deal about thousands. This last month, however, has been truly spectacular and changed how both the general public and astronomers understand what else is out there.

The first change comes from courtesy of the Kepler Space Telescope and its team, who announced — in one fell swoop — the discovery of nearly 1,300 likely planets, an addition that increases the total number of planets ever discovered by nearly 50 percent (if this sounds somewhat familiar, that’s because the Kepler team announced the discovery of some 700 planets back in 2014). Kepler is a space-based telescope, launched in 2009, that orbits the Sun just a little outside the orbit of the Earth for the specific purpose of planet-hunting.

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