Tag Archives: book notes

A scientist at the Vatican

Brother Astronomer: Adventures of a Vatican Scientist

Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J., is a Planetary Scientist, specializing in meteorites, and a Jesuit brother. He writes about the different types of meteorites and their significance in the first section. The second section is about the church, where he argues that the trial of Galileo was a tragic aberration, and discusses the theological justification for science in the works of St. Athanasius and of John Scotus Eriugena. Later chapters include some autobiography, a discussion of aliens and their possible theological implications (short answer: no problem), and a concluding section about exploring for meteorites in Antarctica.

He has a first rate education in both science and religion, and is obviously very comfortable with both and sees no problem reconciling them. Neither do his Jesuit superiors.

I have read quite a bit on science and religion, but mostly from a somewhat detached academic point of view. Brother Astronomer is a very refreshing view from the inside. Brother Guy is perfectly aware of all the historical, religious, and scientific background, but communicating that is not his purpose. He is a working scientist. His scientific work is his Christian vocation. That is what he trying to communicate, and he does it very well.

Brother Guy was recently interviewed by some of the British news media, resulting in stories such as:

His comments on all of this are at Anybody want my last three minutes of fame? .

A quick look at the end of Gaelic Ireland

Liam Swords, in The Flight of the Earls, includes a brief account of the Nine Years’ War, the last and greatest of Irish rebellions against Queen Elizabeth I of England, but is more concerned with the aftermath. On September 14, 1607, Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone and leader of the rebellion, Rory O’Donnell, Earl of Tyrconnell, and nearly 100 of their family and followers fled from Ireland on a ship. Continue reading

Joss Whedon teaches Physics

mia_mcdavid has been introducing our foster daughter, carpe_noctum_93, to the wonders of Joss Whedon’s creation, going through our complete DVD collections of both Buffy and Angel. Back in July I heard Jennifer Ouellette speak at Convergence, and decided it was time to read her book, The Physics of the Buffyverse.

Behind the fantastic properties of the vampires, demons, etc., there is actually a lot of good physics in the series. From electricity and the mechanics of martial arts to the Many World Interpretation of quantum mechanics, the writers of the series drew upon wide variety of concepts in physics. Ouellette neatly disentangles the real science from the fantastic elements, maintaining a witty style quite appropriate for the subject matter. It is absolutely non-technical—no math needed (Though that reminds me that I want to read her latest book).