These spiders have super leg-spans and cunning attitudes to match their size. —> Read More Here
Listening the other day to BBC Radio 4, the UK’s national talk radio station, I caught the end of one of those strange shows that attempt to prove that being intellectual can be cool. (As usual, it failed dramatically to do so.) Called The Philosopher’s Arms, it is supposed to be set in a pub and features audience interaction that involves clinking cutlery on glasses. Really. I usually change channel as soon as I come across it.
This time, though, the subject was trolley ethics, which I find fascinating, so I gritted my teeth and kept listening. My hope was that a big problem with the best-known example of this philosophical discipline would be explored. Sadly, though, it was left undiscussed.
There are plenty of variants on trolley ethics, but they all involve thought experiments to explore a human dilemma. As the name suggests, these experiments feature a trolley. (In the UK we’d call it a tram.)
The idea is that a trolley is out of control, running along a downhill track. You are sitting in a control room where you can press a button to change the direction of a switch (points) in the track. If you take no action, —> Read More Here
Texas researchers found that our learning ability was boosted when people allow their minds to rest and reflect on things they’ve learned. —> Read More Here
SAO PAULO, Oct 21 (Reuters) – The Brazilian government said on Tuesday it has put an environmentally rich area of the Amazon rainforest under federal protection, creating a reserve larger than the U.S. state of Delaware.
The new reserve, called Alto Maues, has 6,680 square km (668,000 hectares or 1.65 million acres) of mostly untouched forests that are not known to have human presence, the Brazilian Environment Ministry said.
Declaring a federal reserve means forest clearing and similar development are forbidden.
Putting large areas of mostly intact rainforest under federal protection is one of the tools the Brazilian government has to combat deforestation and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
The creation of these reserves is part of the country’s climate policy. Deforestation is the main cause of carbon —> Read More Here
NASA’s Aqua and Terra satellites captured before and after images of Bermuda and surrounding waters before and after Hurricane Gonzalo struck the island on Oct. 17. The images revealed how Gonzalo stirred up the sediment from the ocean bottom.
Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array have detected an unusual carbon-based molecule called iso-propyl cyanide (i-C3H7CN) in Sagittarius B2, a giant molecular cloud of gas and dust located 27,000 light-years from Earth and just 390 light-years from the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. The search for molecules in space began in the 1960s, [...] —> Read More Here
Mark Thursday (Oct. 23) on your calendar as Solar Eclipse Day, for if the weather cooperates, you should have no difficulty observing a partial eclipse of the sun. —> Read More Here
WASHINGTON, Oct. 21 (UPI) — NASA’s probes have beamed back a number of images of the comet Siding Spring, taken as it flew by Mars. —> Read More Here
The best views will be in the U.S. Northwest and northern Canada, especially Prince of Wales Island – although New England and the Canadian Maritime provinces will miss out. —> Read More Here
One of the great advantages of being a Jesuit astronomer at the Vatican Observatory is that, since we are supported by the Church, we don’t have to worry about writing proposals, sitting on committees or even teaching classes. We can concentrate on doing interesting, long-term scientific projects.
Of course, we do have our own personal commitments. I live in a community of a dozen Jesuit priests and brothers (most of us with doctorates in astronomy or related fields), and as a community we care for each other… picking up a fellow Jesuit at the airport, or taking an elderly brother to a doctor’s appointment. But generally our vow of celibacy means that we’re free to go where the work calls us, whether it’s traveling to conferences or staying late in the lab. We don’t have to worry about a child with the flu or a spouse’s job search.
There is one call on our time, however, that my married colleagues don’t face. It’s the emails and letters we receive, regularly, asking us about our lives of science and faith.
Of course, the whole reason the Vatican established a Vatican Observatory was to show the world that the Church supports science. Answering that —> Read More Here