Agnostic views & images I like

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Archive for the ‘thinking about science’ Category

Image of angry looking Sun

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How do they get these images I wonder! But I enjoy looking at them.

Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2011/08/07 at 00:11

I love images that have some kind of drama attached!

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It’s a gigantic star, some 20 times the mass of our Sun, that has been knocked about in space by a neighboring supernova and here is the latest image capture from NASA files:

And here is its official description:

A huge star ejected from a binary system has been photographed slamming headlong through a barrier of cosmic dust, creating a shockwave that shines in brilliant yellow in infrared views.

The star, called Zeta Ophiuchi, is a stellar behemoth with about 20 times the mass of our sun and would be 65,000 times brighter if it weren’t surrounded by a thick blanket of dust. It is about 4 million years old and is 460 light-years away from Earth. The star is zooming through space at a whopping 54,000 mph (nearly 87,000 kph), according to NASA scientists.

NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, called WISE, caught the massive star plowing through thick dust to create what scientists call a “bow shock” – a shockwave that precedes stars as they move through space much like the ripple raised by the front of a boat traveling through water.

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These kinds of dramatic images are one of the most accessible aspects of astronomy that give NASA their best public image. But is it worth those big budgets?

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2011/01/26 at 16:37

The folly in the quest for perfection!

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Lee Smolin at Harvard University
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Lee Smolin is a world class scientist and does his science in Canada. He recently reviewed a book by Marcelo Gleiser that has a highly suggestive title “A Radical New Vision for Life in an Imperfect Universe”. Here is a telling excerpt from that book selected by Smolin for his review:

It became clear to me that scientists and seekers of perfection from all walks of life have been courting the wrong muse. It is not symmetry and perfection that should be our guiding principle, as it has been for millennia….The science we create is just that, our creation. Wonderful as it is, it is always limited, it is always constrained by what we know of the world….We may search for unified descriptions of natural phenomena, and we may find some partial unifications along the way. But we must remember that a final unification is forever beyond our reach….The human understanding of the world is forever a work in progress. That we have learned so much, speaks well of our creativity. That we want to know more, speaks well of our drive. That we think we can know all, speaks only of our folly.

As I read those lines I couldn’t help thinking that he could be describing how religious authorities propose unified models for human morality. Surely the one constant here, human folly, applies as much in the scientific domain as in the moral.

Scientists seem to be ready to express humility in the face of human intellectual weakness. When will religious spokespersons do as much? Is it possible that religious authorities speak from a position of intellectual arrogance since they propose that they are the final judges on earth of the perfection of their vision of human life.

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No longer the Blue Planet, morphed to White Planet

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Check this link to read about planet Earth being almost totally snow covered!

I just had a thought. Did God cover Earth in snow? Didn’t he make everything or know about it’s creation, or happening?

Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it?

Institute of Geosciences of the Universidade F...
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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/12/14 at 13:54

It seems suitable that this article was published in SanFran

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San Francisco Chronicle
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And here is an experpt:

Published on Thursday, November 18, 2010 by The San Francisco Chronicle

Your Angry God Will Not Save You Now

by Mark Morford

This much we know: Increasingly it is being proven that sexual orientation in general and homosexuality in particular are largely biological adventures, hardwired and pre-set in your genetic code by sly and well-groomed angels way, way in advance, back when you were but a twinkle in the eye of the moan.

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Written by BobG in Dalian & Vancouver

2010/11/18 at 17:58

Melting glaciers in Greenland

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So there are many doubters about warming of earth. Do those people ever take the time to look at pictures like this one snapped on the Helheim Glacier on Greenland. Pools of summer melt water are in light blue.

Scientists are trying to measure the progress of glacier melting there and the NY Times had a gallery of images that I snipped from:

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The headline blares “Alcohol most harmful drug”

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Main physiological effects of Crack cocaine. S...
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I like to think that I’m a reasoning type of bloke! But what F… is going on here.

One of the simple indulgences in my life is now “the most harmful drug“. Is it just a British thing because binge drinking seems to be a visible characteristic of many young Brits out on the town, at soccer games, on holiday anywhere and such? Or is it another example of researchitis, or pseudo science?

Here’s a quote from

Alcohol is more dangerous than illegal drugs like heroin and crack cocaine, according to a new study.

British experts evaluated substances including alcohol, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and marijuana, ranking them based on how destructive they are to the individual who takes them and to society as a whole.

Researchers analyzed how addictive a drug is and how it harms the human body, in addition to other criteria like environmental damage caused by the drug, its role in breaking up families and its economic costs, such as health care, social services and prison.

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This brings to mind the gist of the ad from Standard & Chartered Bank in Asia: “Counting of things is important but not all things should/or can be counted”

I would say that applies to research into human behavior in another way: “Research into human behavior can be helpful, except when it finds simple human indulgences most harmful!

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