Astronomer at the Vatican Observatory, Brother Guy Consolmagno, discussed space issues such as the question of ET life, Russia's interest in going to Phobos, dark energy, and the big bang theory as well as how faith and science can coexist. He explained that the Vatican's interest in the cosmos is driven by "the same sense of curiosity and mystery that fueled people to look at the sky since the beginning of time." In looking at the tremendous leaps in scientific insight over the last few years, he marveled that "half the things" he originally learned about space are now suspect, while radical ideas from as recently as ten years ago are now viewed as entirely possible.
Consolmagno shared an analogy that captures the difficulties faced by humans in trying to better understand our universe. He started by noting that the moons of Jupiter and Saturn are believed to have liquid water beneath a surface layer of ice. Supposing that there was intelligent life in those oceans, they would be restricted by the ice above them and the ground below, knowing only that world as their universe. These beings, Consolmagno said, would never be able to know they were just a small part of a much larger system of moons, planets, stars, and galaxies. "And then you ask, 'what are the things that we don't know that we don't know,'" he pondered, "what are the boundaries that are part of our universe that even we can't be aware of?"
Contrary to the idea that science and faith are mutually exclusive, Consolmagno said that every religion, even those that seem hostile to science, have scientists which belong to them. On a personal level, he attributed his faith as a key motivator behind his ongoing scientific work. "It's that sense that I'm touching the stuff that God made," he mused, "day in and day out, seeing how the universe works, I'm in a conversation with the creator." Additionally, he contended that greater understanding of our universe does not threaten the idea of God, but, rather, "as our universe gets bigger, I would say our understanding of the creator of the universe gets bigger."
In the first hour, constitutional lawyer Jonathan Emord talked about the misguided approach of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). He pointed out that the agency spent 57 billion dollars in the last 10 years and has 65,000 employees, yet a recent investigation by Congress' General Accounting Office found that 17 known terrorists were able to travel, on 24 different occasions, and pass through 8 separate TSA screening locations. "The whole thing, sadly, is a game of smoke and mirrors," he lamented. During his appearance, Emord also detailed the FDA's attempts to regulate mobile medical apps and their court battle over putting graphic images on cigarette packages.
An intriguing new video from Russia captures what appears to be a UFO hovering over a large pro-democracy protest in Moscow. Witnesses claim the object flew without the means of a conventional engine, flashed red and blue lights, and featured five tendrils emanating from the center of the craft. Skeptics claim the UFO was likely a spy drone deployed by the Russian government or a camera used by the news media to film the protest. More on the story at The Daily Mail and video of the object can be seen at The Telegraph.
Bumper music from Tuesday December 13, 2011