Thursday, November 30, 2006

New and amazing findings about Antikythera Computer!

Early Astronomical 'Computer' Found to Be Technically Complex

"The instrument, the Antikythera Mechanism, sometimes called the world's first computer, has now been examined with the latest in high-resolution imaging systems and three-dimensional X-ray tomography...their findings showed that the inscriptions related to lunar-solar motions, and the gears were a representation of the irregularities of the Moon's orbital course, as theorized by the astronomer Hipparchos. They established the date of the mechanism at 150-100 B.C. The Roman ship carrying the artifacts sank off the island of Antikythera about 65 B.C...The researchers said that Hipparchos...might have had a hand in designing the device..."

UPDATE:Great pics!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

It was upon a Lammas night...

...when the corn rigs were Nessie!

The Lock Ness Monster is a better-known Scot than Robert Burns or Sean Connery, according to a survey.

"More than 2,000 adults across the UK were asked to say who they believed to be Scotland's most famous figure. Poet Burns came second place in the poll, actor Connery was third and Robert the Bruce was fourth. The Loch Ness Monster took almost a third of the votes in the survey, which was commissioned by Crabbies Green Ginger Wine."

Green Ginger Wine? Yum! Sounds great for a fall/winter Sabbath. Here's the list of Top Scots:

1 Loch Ness Monster 29%
2 Robert Burns 27%
3 Sean Connery 12%
4 Robert the Bruce 9%
5 William Wallace 7.5%
6 Robbie Coltrane 6%
7 Billy Connolly 4%
8 Lorraine Kelly 2.5%
9 Ewan McGregor 2%
10 Lulu 1%,

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Let's sing XTC's 'Dear God' this Yule!

The 17 Books I Read Along The Way

Actress Julia Sweeney's blog features a excellent list of her 17 favorite religious books. Most are scathing critiques of the Judeo-Christian interpretation of "God". I feel books like these should be embraced by Wicca, as a healthy dose of skepticism is a always a good thing. Not only that, but such clear thinking helps our evolving spirituality avoid some of the devastating pitfalls of Monotheism. Several also serve as good rebuttals to the disingenuous idiocy of Intelligent Design and Creationism.

I can't think of better stocking stuffers this Yule, especially if you have any faith obsessed friends or family members. My favorite on the list is Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan's "The Demon Haunted World, Science as a Candle In The Dark". Sweeney mentions the chapter 'Real Patriots Ask Questions'. Isn't it amazing how prescient the scientist authors were!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Save the Aussie Lungfish!

The Australian Lungfish is one of the world's most remarkable animals. It has survived for 100 million year, yet is considered threatened by habitat destruction. There is a budding movement afoot to save this unique and beautiful animal.

You can sign the online petition.

A great article and interview from ABC-AU.

Josh Larson's page has many links and contacts.

PZ Myer's excellent Pharyngula has more information

Sunday, November 26, 2006

To see God in the Eye of a Fly...

Well, not a fly, but maybe an ant! Amazing pics of ant heads from an entomologist. Check out his web page concerning his research on the always facinating Army ants:

"Research on the relationship between biological diversity and environmental change is directly applicable to conservation and provides a background against which human influence on the environment can be evaluated...In its most general sense, my research seeks to elucidate the forces that shape and organize invertebrate communities... In particular, I have selected ants for the focus of my research..."

For any budding EO Wilson fans out there, the link section is great!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Better than Vacationing in the Forbidden Zone

Dr Zaius Nation: Some Apes Are More Equal Than Others

If given a choice, what seminal character from Science Fiction would you like to have a beer with? For me, it's simple: Dr. Zaius!

Damn Hippies! is perhaps the best take on the Antediluvian "BAWL" editorial in the Lexington Herald-Leader, first exposed over at CrooksandLiars. Hmmm, Buddha-Allah-Wicca-Lenin...nice to know we are in such good company.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Witchy Thanksgiving

The Nina, The Pinta and The Religious Right:
A Misguided Voyage To Rediscover The Christian Nation.

Wren, over at Witchvox, has part one of an excellent article. Nothing is more incredible and fascinating than the truth. Looking forward to part two.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Neanderthal DNA secrets

Neanderthal DNA secrets unlocked

It's cool that long lost cousins the Neanderthals are back in the news. There have been a number of great scientific papers and articles in the MSM. The big question these days seems to be if we crossbred with them or not. When did our lines diverge? Are they alive today through our genes?

"A genetic breakthrough could help clear up some long-standing mysteries surrounding our closest evolutionary relatives: the Neanderthals... Studying the Neanderthal genome will shed light on the genetic changes that made our species what it is, after the evolutionary lineage of Neanderthals and modern humans diverged from one another...It could also reveal what colour hair, eyes and skin Neanderthals had, whether they were capable of modern speech, shed light on aspects of their brain function and determine whether they contributed to the modern human gene pool."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Teaching God and Evolution

Thank God for Evolution

There should be more workshops like this:

Washingtonville —The Rev. Michael Dowd and his wife, Connie Barlow, will present a free workshop, “Thank God for Evolution! How Science and Religion Are Spurring Each Other to Greatness,” at 10:45 a.m. on Sunday Nov. 19, at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, 175 East Main St., Washingtonville.

(Kudos to Darksyde over at Kos for this)

Gradual Evolution in Kansas

Pro-evolution standards could take months

Two new State Board of Education members take office Jan. 8, ending a conservative GOP majority and giving control to a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans. That makes a return to standards treating evolution as well-grounded science - not a flawed theory - seem inevitable...

Energy Dark Energy in the Young Universe

NASA's Hubble Finds Evidence for Dark Energy in the Young Universe

Einstein is right again!

Scientists using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have discovered that dark energy is not a new constituent of space, but rather has been present for most of the universe's history. Dark energy is a mysterious repulsive force that causes the universe to expand at an increasing rate.

Investigators used Hubble to find that dark energy was already boosting the expansion rate of the universe as long as nine billion years ago. This picture of dark energy is consistent with Albert Einstein's prediction of nearly a century ago that a repulsive form of gravity emanates from empty space.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Welcome all Witches and Scientists

During the Burning Times, scientists were persecuted along with those who practiced the "Old Religion". Fanatics viewed anyone different as being in league with "Satan".

How we act, treat each other, and treat the earth, defines our spirituality. What a modern NeoPagan actually does in life is more important than what they believe. We are not obsessed with the minutia of doctrine or slavish adherence to ceremony. Many Wiccans and Neo Pagans embrace science, and have a strong interest in the natural world. This is only natural, as the cycles of nature figure so prominently in their spirituality. Wiccans have no problem with Darwin, or understanding the facts about the devastating effects of Global Warming.

In fact, the denial of such knowledge is seen as a direct attack on the Goddess (aka: Mother Nature). Modern fanatics (some call them Absolutists, Dominionists, Authoritarians, or Theocons) target such people as "tree huggers" with their special brand of hate. Conservative radio personalities demonize as 'feminazis' those who embrace the Goddess. I'm reminded of a quote from Margot Adler's landmark book, Drawing Down The Moon, "life celebration is always a threat to those bent on destruction."