Exoplanets better as collectibles than homes for life?

From "Darkest Known Exoplanet: Alien World Is Blacker Than Coal" (ScienceDaily (Aug. 12, 2011) we learn:

Astronomers have discovered the darkest known exoplanet — a distant, Jupiter-sized gas giant known as TrES-2b. Their measurements show that TrES-2b reflects less than one percent of the sunlight falling on it, making it blacker than coal or any planet or moon in our solar system.

Continue reading

Superstition surprisingly high in those with scientific background

In “Will science banish superstition for ever?: Which makes people more superstitious: fervent scientism or fervent religious belief? The answer may surprise you,” we learn, among other things:

In Britain, during National Science Week (2003), University of Hertfordshire psychologist Richard Wiseman and associates surveyed 2068 people on superstitious behaviour. They found, among other things, that

“The current levels of superstitious behaviour and beliefs in the UK are surprisingly high, even among those with a scientific background. Touching wood is the most popular UK superstition, followed by crossing fingers, avoiding ladders, not smashing mirrors, carrying a lucky charm and having superstitious beliefs about the number 13.”

Twenty-five percent of the people who claimed a background in science were very or somewhat superstitious. (Mercatornet, August 10, 2011) More.

Follow UD News at Twitter!

Texas Lottery revisited – why the Lottery can’t afford to highlight a design inference

Here we learned that when a woman might need to live through 3 successive universes (or something) to get so lucky in the Texas Lottery, the Commission just shrugged and said she was “born under a lucky star.” Others muttered that she was lucky all right … to be a Stanford math Ph.D. Why must the Commission pretend it’s luck?

Continue reading

Study: God loves me, so I worry less …

In a finding that wouldn’t surprise many,

Researchers at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital have found that those who believe in a benevolent God tend to worry less and be more tolerant of life's uncertainties than those who believe in an indifferent or punishing God. – “Religious Beliefs Impact Levels of Worry” (ScienceDaily Aug. 5, 2011)

Here’s a welcome point:

"The implications of this paper for the field of psychiatry are that we have to take patients' spirituality more seriously than we do," Rosmarin said.

That means listening as well: To a religious person, guilt is an objective state, not a pathology. It’s no help to say, “You shouldn’t feel guilty …” A justifiable response from the patient would be

Continue reading

TV: Do you have more faith in God or Stephen Hawking?

 A friend notes that this review of Stephen Hawking’s about-to-be aired Discovery special "Did God Create the Universe?" “shows more insight into the science faith problem than many professional critics in the science and faith disciplines.”

LA Times ’ TV critic Mary McNamara writes (August 6, 2011),

… a better title perhaps would be "Stephen Hawking Explains Why He is Quite Certain God Did Not Create the Universe." Hawking, like many scientists, believes in "a simpler alternative" to a participatory God — that the fixed laws of nature not only rule the universe but explain its creation.

How, I cannot tell you. Although Discovery is liberal in its CG usage and Hawking comes up with all manner of easily understood metaphors, his attempts to explain how, exactly, the big bang emerged from a state of nothingness required an understanding of physics that was beyond me.

Continue reading