Hubble Update

NASA reports that Hubble’s main camera is back in operation.

Unknown Law Behind Galaxy Evolution?

ScienceNOW reports the discovery that the various properties of galaxies — size, shape, luminosity, etc. — seem to follow a pattern related to some unknown variable. Read here.

X-Rays from Tape

UCLA scientists have discovered that unrolling rolls of tape in a vacuum produces unexpectedly high levels of x-rays – levels high enough, in fact, to produce x-ray images. This discovery could lead to the development of cheap, portable x-ray imagers for use by paramedics and others in the field. Read here.

Saint Thomas More, Pray for Us

As we approach this election, may St. Thomas More’s example of adherence to conscience informed by the Church be our guide. He gave his life. What will we give? More is, by the way, the patron saint of politicians.

(From A Man for All Seasons)

Rosary Novena for Election

Father John Corapi has called for a rosary novena to be prayed between Monday, October 27th and November 4th, the date of the American elections. He states:

If we do not soon stop the genocide of abortion in the United States, we shall run the course of all those that prove by their actions that they are enemies of God—total collapse, economic, social, and national. The moral demise of a nation results in the ultimate demise of a nation. God is not a disinterested spectator to the affairs of man. Life begins at conception. This is an unalterable formal teaching of the Catholic Church. If you do not accept this you are a heretic in plain English. A single abortion is homicide. The more than 48,000,000 abortions since Roe v. Wade in the United States constitute genocide by definition. The group singled out for death—unwanted, unborn children.

No other issue, not all other issues taken together, can constitute a proportionate reason for voting for candidates that intend to preserve and defend this holocaust of innocent human life that is abortion.

Read here (PDF).

First Things: “Brain Science and the Soul”

R. R. Reno posts this over at “On the Square:

These days, cognitive scientists are doing experiments that use MRI technology to visualize the brain while subjects undergo experiences, solve problems, and make decisions. This approach allows scientists to see and theorize about the significance and sources of patterns in our brains, patterns that shape the way we respond to the world. We are learning about the highway system of neurological movement, which turns out to be decisive for the way our minds work.The new emphasis on patterns of neural activity suggests an important support for the traditional Christian understanding of the soul. The cutting edge of brain science makes it clear that it is as foolish to say that our brains are just neurons as it is to say that highways are just concrete and asphalt. After all, what matters to the motorist is the way in which the concrete is organized to create an interlocking system of usable roads. The same holds for the gray matter inside our heads.

The Christian tradition has long taught the same thing about the human person. St. Thomas drew on Aristotle’s philosophy to define the soul as the form of the body. The soul is the pattern or highway system that organizes our bodies, including, of course, our brains.

Read here.

Hubble: Back in Action

Engineers have used Hubble’s back up systems to bring the telescope back online after it suddenly shut down last month. Read here.

UPDATE: Guess not.

Miller-Urey Resurrected

Science reports on the new look at the Miller-Urey origin-of-life experiments, and the attendant hypothesis that volcanic activity or lightning could have provided the chemical conditions necessary for life to form on earth:

“So could lightning have helped jump-start life on Earth? Possibly, Cleaves says. Although Earth’s primordial atmosphere was not hydrogen-rich, as were the chambers in the Miller-Urey experiment, gas clouds from volcanic eruptions did contain the right combination of molecules. It is possible that volcanoes, which were much more active early in Earth’s history, seeded our planet with life’s ingredients. The big question is what happened next–how did those molecules turn into self-replicating organic compounds? “That’s the frontier,” Cleaves says, “and we’re sort of stuck there.””

You don’t say? There is, of course, nothing wrong from a Catholic perspective with holding the opinion that physical processes can provide a complete naturalistic account for the formation of organisms at the beginning of the history of life. But his candor here gives the lie to the breezy confidence of those scientists who claim that the natural origin of life is obvious and proves materialism.

Read here.

Benedict XVI Praises “Fides et Ratio”

On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the publication of John Paul II’s encyclical, Fides et Ratio:

“Who can deny”, the Pope asked, “the contribution the great philosophical systems have made to the development of man’s self-knowledge and to the progress of various cultures? Indeed, these cultures become fruitful when they open to truth, enabling those who participate in them to reach objectives that make social life ever more human”.

“Nonetheless, we cannot conceal the fact that there has been a slide from a prevalently speculative form of thought to a chiefly empirical one. Research has turned to focus above all on the observation of nature in the attempt to discover its secrets. And the desire to understand nature has then been transformed into the desire to reproduce it. … Scientific and technological progress, which ‘fides’ is increasingly called to confront, has altered the old concept of ‘ratio’; in some way it has marginalised the reason that sought the ultimate truth of things to make way for a reason that satisfies itself with discovering the contingent truths of the laws of nature.

“Scientific research certainly has a positive value” when “the applied sciences are the fruit of reason and an expression of the intelligence with which man manages to penetrate the depths of creation. For its part, faith does nor fear scientific progress and the developments to which its achievements lead when their ultimate focus is man, his wellbeing and the progress of all humanity”.

Read here.

InsightScoop offers commentary here.

Tim Jones: Creation Leads Us to Praise God

At his blog, Old World Swine, Tim Jones remind us that the beauty of Creation leads us to the praise of the Creator for His work, but then leads us further into praise of God in Himself:

God does deserve endless praise just for his work, his artfulness in creating the universe, but that is only the beginning of the story. The universe is as achingly beautiful and subtle and powerful and fascinating as it is because it reflects in many ways the character – the attributes – of the artist who made it. If the world is an artwork and does have meaning as I maintained above, then it all points back to the one who made it and what he is like. Not that a person would be able to really understand everything about God from nature alone (the pagans demonstrate that), but as St. Paul said in Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”.

Read here.