Tuesday, September 30, 2014

John Polkinghorne about Science and Religion

John Polkinghore photographed in 2007
image wikimedia
The Rev Dr John Charlton Polkinghorne, KBE, FRS (born 16 October 1930) is an English theoretical physicist, theologian, writer, and Anglican priest. A prominent and leading voice explaining the relationship between science and religion, he was professor of Mathematical physics at the University of Cambridge from 1968 to 1979, when he resigned his chair to study for the priesthood, becoming an ordained Anglican priest in 1982. He served as the president of Queens' College, Cambridge from 1988 until 1996.

Polkinghorne is the author of five books on physics, and 26 on the relationship between science and religion; his publications include
The Quantum World (1989),
Quantum Physics and Theology: An Unexpected Kinship(2005),
Exploring Reality: The Intertwining of Science and Religion (2007)
Questions of Truth (2009).

The Polkinghorne Reader (edited by Thomas Jay Oord) provides key excerpts from Polkinghorne's most influential books.

He was knighted in 1997 and in 2002 received the £1 million Templeton Prize, awarded for exceptional contributions to affirming life's spiritual dimension
Read the entire article from Wikipedia

Read on line his article on Physics and Theology

Monday, September 29, 2014

Energizer in Galaxy 3C 75

Two black holes near each other in 3C 75
It is quite difficult for us humans really to internalize the enormous energy sources discovered in deep space. The two merging galaxies known as 3C 75 have been known as a giant radio source. In this remarkable photo, captured radio waves are shown in pink and Röntgen rays emitting from the multimillion degrees hot surrounding gas are shown in blue. (APOD)

The photo is all the more amazing considering that these two galaxies are estimated to be some 300 million light years distance from us. A mere speck in the vast space not really visible to light capturing telescopes.

The two bright spots are the black holes in the hearts of the merging galaxies (black hole is a curious name as the matter around it radiates more brightly than stars!) The centers are estimated to be at 25.000 light years distance from each other. The two are moving together at 1200 kilometers per second the great speed causing the racing trails of radio waves.

This energizer is so enormous that it is truly something in astronomic scale!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Complex organic molecules in interstellar space

BBC news reports this morning
Scientists have found the beginnings of life-bearing chemistry at the centre of the galaxy.

Iso-propyl cyanide has been detected in a star-forming cloud 27,000 light-years from Earth.

Its branched carbon structure is closer to the complex organic molecules of life than any previous finding from interstellar space.

The discovery suggests the building blocks of life may be widespread throughout our galaxy.

Various organic molecules have previously been discovered in interstellar space, but i-propyl cyanide is the first with a branched carbon backbone.

The branched structure is important as it shows that interstellar space could be the origin of more complex branched molecules, such as amino acids, that are necessary for life on Earth.

Dr Arnaud Belloche from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy is lead author of the research, which appears in the journal Science.

"Amino acids on Earth are the building blocks of proteins, and proteins are very important for life as we know it. The question in the background is: is there life somewhere else in the galaxy?"

Read the entire article by Michael Eyre in BBC Science

iso-propyl cyanide i-C3H7CN

Friday, September 26, 2014

Mangaliyaan - badhai ho!

Artist's rendering of the MOM Mangaliyaan
image wikimedia

Astronomers around the world are thrilled and glad for the success of India's impossible sounding Mars Orbiter Mission.

India has joined the elite club of countries with space craft that has reached Mars - NASA United States,  ESA Europe and Russia. With the cost of a mere 74 million dollars...

बधाई हो    badhai ho!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Laniakea Supercluster of Galaxies

Laniakea Supercluster of Galaxies
APOD has an excellent clear and compact description of a very complex and amazing structure in space shown in the picture above.
It is not only one of the largest structures known -- it is our home. The just-identified Laniakea Supercluster of galaxies contains thousands of galaxies that includes our Milky Way Galaxy, the Local Group of galaxies, and the entire nearby Virgo Cluster of Galaxies.

The colossal supercluster is shown in the above computer-generated visualization, where

  • green areas are rich with white-dot galaxies and 
  • white lines indicate motion towards the supercluster center. 
  • An outline of Laniakea is given in orange, while 
  • the blue dot shows our location. 
  • Outside the orange line, galaxies flow into other galatic concentrations. 

The Laniakea Supercluster spans about 500 million light years and contains about 100,000 times the mass of our Milky Way Galaxy. The discoverers of Laniakea gave it a name that means "immense heaven" in Hawaiian.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Astrotheology theme image - Hollow Hill Cave, NZ

Photo from Hollow Hill Cave, New Zeland
image Credit and Copyright Phill Round.
This amazing photo composed and taken by Phill Round iin the Hollow Hill Cave, New Zeland is my current favorite candidate for Astrotheology Theme Image. It shows a wonder of the Universe in a fabulous way that no mere words can describe. Yet, in order to understand the powerful message in this photo a few words are still needed.

No, it is not the Southern Cross and the Coalsack Nebula in the upper left of the image. In fact, the spots of light on the "sky" are not stars at all.
Look up in New Zealand's Hollow Hill Cave and you might think you see a familiar starry sky. And that's exactly what Arachnocampa luminosa are counting on. Captured in this long exposure, the New Zealand glowworms scattered across the cave ceiling give it the inviting and open appearance of a clear, dark night sky filled with stars. Unsuspecting insects fooled into flying too far upwards get trapped in sticky snares the glowworms create and hang down to catch food.
Glowworms imitating night sky?

Quick reactions
There are two Pavlov's reaction to this amazing constellation of glowworms on the ceiling of a dark cave.

1. Die hard evolutionist says "Do not worry about such riddles of Nature. The key to understanding evolution of this species and its subsistence strategy is natural selection and based on this universal principle we will surely figure out now or in the future a feasible theory how a group of worms got the ability to imitate night sky."

2. Die hard creationist says "look, it is impossible that a group of worms would be able to act in this manner creating a composite image of space in the ceiling of the cave to catch food. Some Intelligent Being must be behind all this since otherwise the complex behavior and understanding of geometry by Arachnocampa luminosa cannot be explained meaningfully."

But hey, hold your horses!

Let us for once put aside the first thoughts that rise with our curiosity when admiring the attractive scenery depicted in the photo.

Let us be quiet and contemplate what we see, let us listen to the many ideas that rise to our heads without hurrying to fix it into some man-sized explanation to this truly divine phenomenon.

Let us recite the mysterious wording in the over two thousand years old Hallelujah! Psalm 148 - that leaves so many questions without answers!

Psalm 148
1 Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
    praise him in the heights above.
2 Praise him, all his angels;
    praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
3 Praise him, sun and moon;
    praise him, all you shining stars.
4 Praise him, you highest heavens
    and you waters above the skies.
5 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for at his command they were created,
6 and he established them for ever and ever—
    he issued a decree that will never pass away.
7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
    you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
8 lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
    stormy winds that do his bidding,
9 you mountains and all hills,
    fruit trees and all cedars,
10 wild animals and all cattle,
    small creatures and flying birds,
11 kings of the earth and all nations,
    you princes and all rulers on earth,
12 young men and women,
    old men and children.
13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for his name alone is exalted;
    his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
14 And he has raised up for his people a horn,[b]
    the praise of all his faithful servants,
    of Israel, the people close to his heart.
Praise the Lord.

Indeed, praise the Lord you small creatures!

Thank you to Phill Round for submitting the photo to NASA APOD for us all to admire!