How do we understand the natural forces that literally shape our world? How, over time have we attempted to explain sometimes spectacular, sometimes mysterious events?
In The Athena Factor W. Michael Gear explores the compelling and in many ways horrifying world of biotech engineering, principally in the form of DNA research and manipulation. While this book is fictional, what the author describes is not.
“I do not think it appropriate to teach non-science in a biology class – especially non-science that is really a form of literalist Christianity in disguise. Even if it were appropriate, I would not want the kind of conservative evangelical religion taught, that I think ID represents. But it is not appropriate and in the US is illegal.”
“Getting nations to cooperate is important, but I think a quicker solution will come from what I call a carbon tax break. This involves taxing pollution at its source, whether it is generated by an oil company or a coal burning energy plant. The money raised by this carbon tax would be distributed to citizens who would then use it to purchase energy. Since gas or coal-produced energy which emit high levels of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere would be highly taxed and thus more expensive, people would naturally buy the cheaper, and lower carbon emitting, forms of energy.”
“This means that we are a people who now live in that shadow world of quasi-existence. What matters to us is not necessarily what is real, but what is possible given the state of things. This is a big change, and constitutes a fundamental shift in the way we understand the world.”
“Entanglement is a strange feature of quantum physics, the science of the very small. It’s possible to link together two quantum particles – photons of light or atoms, for example – in a special way that makes them effectively two parts of the same entity. You can then separate them as far as you like, and a change in one is instantly reflected in the other. This odd, faster than light link, is a fundamental aspect of quantum science…”
Goethe and Tagore, separated by time and contexts, but joined in their great felicity over the literary idiom, show similar quests in the understanding of the sciences. It is alluring to jump to the conclusion of a phony and fashionable unity; that science and arts are the same after all; and literature, music, mathematics, and the physical sciences are all manifestations of the common muse.
During the Apollo 15 mission, an anonymous viewer phoned his local TV station to suggest that a large rock discovered by the astronauts should be named in honor of “a taxpayer selected at random from the computers of the Internal Revenue Service.”
Meanwhile, every billion dollars spent on the supremely misguided attempt to revivify the nuclear industry is a theft from the production of cheap renewable electricity. Think what these billions could do if invested in the development of wind power, solar power, cogeneration, geothermal energy, biomass, and tidal and wave power, let alone basic energy conservation, which itself could save the United States 20% of the electricity it currently consumes.
O’Brian based Aubrey on a Royal Navy captain of two centuries ago, Thomas Cochrane. Lord Cochrane’s exploits were at least as great as those of the fictitious Aubrey, and hardly less than those of Britain’s greatest naval hero, Lord Nelson. But while O’Brian admitted that Cochrane was the inspiration for Aubrey, he did not tell us before he died in 2000 whether he had a real-life model for Maturin. The answer, I think, lies in the handsome bird that I see now beyond our sun room window.
Naish states that “most dinosaur books look at current views on dinosaurs and briefly recap the history of some key finds…. This book is specifically focused on changing ideas about the evolution and appearance of dinosaurs and the important discoveries that brought about these changes.” With its 200 or so color photos with captions, maps, tables, a taxonomic chart (dinosaur family tree), sidebars and accessible text, Naish’s book generally accomplishes this in an elegant and intriguing manner.
The unit of measure is a “Darwin,” so named by famed geneticist J. B. S. Haldane. One of the architects of modern Darwinism, he served with great courage in the Scottish Blackwatch Regiment during World War I, then continued his research. At that time, there were some 350,000 known species of beetles. When Haldane was asked by a theologian what he learned of the nature of God from his study of science, he replied, “That He has an inordinate fondness for beetles.”
Duccio Machetto opines in the book’s introduction that, “Today science and theology are more aware of the specific nature of their methods, and take care to avoid ‘incursions’ into what is clearly the field of the other.” Apparently, young earth creationists are not a factor in Italy. The Holy See, however, does feel obliged to weigh in on scientific endeavor from time-to-time, this on a range of issues from Alzheimer’s research using fetal tissue to new and improved techniques of in vitro fertilization. Conversely, scientists such as Richard Dawkins write bestsellers insisting that religion is disproved by science.
2009 is officially “The Year of Astronomy,” commemorating Galilei’s first observation of the Moon through his telescope in November of 1609. Born in Pisa, Galileo Galilei worked in Florence, where the fourth centennial of his discovery is being celebrated with a stunning and sophisticated exhibition which took four years to prepare.
‘Can there have been any more inspiring vision this century than that of the Earth from space?’ exclaimed Lovelock, looking back. ‘We saw for the first time what a gem of a planet we live on. The astronauts who saw the whole Earth from Apollo 8 gave us an icon that has become as powerful as the scimitar or the cross.’