Thursday, 14 December 2006

The water of life, and death.

A plethera of interesting topics. That old medical practice of sexism, the diagnosis of hysteria, might actually be real. Galaxies might evolve through a combination of nature and nurture. Laughter heals disease, and they've finally figured out why it's contagious- it has to do with our tendency to mirror a person in a conversation. But I'm going to contemplate in a different way today, combinging two articles.

We may have found evidence of flowing water on the Martian surface. Going on right now. If it's true, it could provide a valuable base for that mythical day when we land on the planet. Maybe even grow some right find Bradbury crops there.

It also appears that Global Warming will no longer melt the polar ice cap by the year 2100, as previously predicted. It looks like it will be 2040. This is probably due to a runaway positive feeback loop where ice reflects heat and less ice reflects less heat. And less ice allows warmer currents further North. Seeing as polar bears and others are dying off at alarming rates, this will have equally magnifying effects on the Artic ecology. To the side is the North pole 6 years ago, and 33 years from now.

But every bit of ice that melts also means more water rising in other places Places like Bangladesh with 147 million people, or the Maldives, the lowest country in the world, with a maximum natural height of 2.3 meters, the lowest in the world. Most or all of both countries will disappear by century's end, meaning 100s of millions now refugees, without even the hope of a homeland to go back to. And that's just the two countries most effected- it doesn't include the vast numbers of mostly poor living on the coasts around the world who don't have America's money to build dikes around their major cities.

That's the best case scenario. More probably they're not homeless. It's that they're dead.

Two different studies. One finds water of life. The other water of death.

Jesus said, "I am the water of life. She that drinks of me, shall never thirst again." This is the same Guy who earlier had demolished "the whole world" in a flood. Same substance, same guy, different results. Water is powerful wet stuff, with an emphasis on it's power. It is neither good nor evil, but bringing results depending on the situation. God is only good, and yet his actions result in life, and countless deaths. According to Rabbinic tradition, one of the three things satan can not do is kill- this remains God's perogative. How can a good God do both? How can He use the same substance for both harm and help?

I think in all things it depends not on God, but on us. God remains the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow (with that minor tweaking of the incarnation). The water still has the same properites- 104.7 degrees between the two Hydrogens allowing for some rather too convenient Hydrogen bonding, making life possible. But we change. God is everywhere- nanini, naninina, and in all things. Then how is it possible for us to say, "God is with us right now." or "Come, Jesus, Come"?

Theodore of Mopsuestia said that the Logos dwelt in Jesus "by His good pleasure". As a Christology it fell far short, basically being more Nestorian than Nestorius. But a professor of mine, Dr. Thompson, pointed out that it was a rather nice description of God's presence with us. He is everywhere, but at times He exists by His good pleasure, when we are aligned with Him.

In the same way His actions are everywhere the same. But whether or not they bring harm or help to us is determined to what extent we are aligned with Him. Sometimes it is punishment, and therefore our moral actions that align us with our just desserts. But certainly many times tragedy hits us without punishment. And then God is still the same, seeking our good. But perhaps at times we have difficulty in seeing His good, and what He will bring us in the fullness of time.

Such is not the case of course here. In the fullness of the meaning of original sin, we have wrought this upon ourselves. Water is a gift of God, giving us original life and sustaining us, allowing us possibly to reach further into the Heavens. We have squandered that gift in our search for another liquid, fossil fuels. We spurned the gift of God and chose a poor substitute, destroying that which we were called to care for. And we now reap what we sowed. For in 33 years we will no longer have a polar ice cap, and a great deal more misery. God did not change, and neither did His gift. We chose to reject the gift, our calling, and our God. Let the chaos of the waters reign.

Wednesday, 6 December 2006

I Thought By Now...

The oldest religious practice to date has been found- worshiping pythons in Africa 70,000 years ago. Some of the genetic code has been discovered for male pregnancy in seahorses. It sucked to be a Neanderthal, health-wise. Birds are starting to go through some genetic drift as their songs fit to accommodate the deeper noise of city life. And NASA reveals their plans to put a base on the moon by 2024.

This last one briefly caught my eye. A guy on PBS was talking about this tonight- how there might be water there, on the sunny side of the moon there's lots of sun for nearly constant solar power, it's safer than space, it's a great training field for Mars...Sounds like a good idea. I hope they do it. But I thought they were going to do this in 1985.

It just seems like everything's slowed down. Don't you remember how there was supposed to all of this amazing scientific advancement by now, that we lived with day by day? Remember in the 60's, with the kitchen of the future- that was supposed to be here by the late 70's. We're still waiting. Oh, we can do most of it. But either it's not economical, or for reasons similar to the Tuckermobile and the EV1, it's blocked by the Powers That Be.

What was it that got us to the moon? Simply, fear. Sputnik was up there, smiling down on all of us, proof that the Communists were actually better than us. Then they sent a guy into space first, and then the first woman. (And to our eternal shame, it took us 20 years to duplicate this feat.) In fact, arguably, they were doing better than us across the board, until they also had to fight proxy wars with us continuously, and discovered they couldn't do all that and feed their people too. Might even be an argument that Communism is more successful than Capitalism as long as the world is at peace. But that of course is heresy.

Sputnik was a wake-up call. We suddenly realized the Soviets were beating us, and were doing better in us than science. This impelled us to get off our butts and start working, and learning. The Space Race was a large contributor to finally repealing the old laws going back to the Scopes Monkey Trial which mandated teaching Literal Creationism, and the beginnings of universal evolution teaching in schools throughout America. We finally realized we needed to learn science, not because it was interesting or a high pursuit, but because we could not be beaten by those who didn't know how to value materialism, capitalism, and economic growth.

But now, we just don't have that motivation. China is perhaps the biggest commercial force on the planet, or soon will be, and they've got nuclear weapons. But they only recently sent someone into space for the first time. When we aren't in a race with someone, we just don't care enough about the science.

Now, the amazing new developments are all small, in a computer, or a cell phone. Actually, they're even less noticeable- they're in the ether of the web, somewhere in between computers. We don't see the big changes. Cars are stuck without major structural changes for some 60 years now. The Big Three figured out they could change the pretty fins and colour and get enough people to keep buying new ones. Kitchen machines are not that different in basic structure from the way they were 30 years ago. Oh, there are changes, but it seems so slow. Perhaps it's that the imagination of science fiction can progress more quickly than anything real. But it also seems that we are less inspired to progress. When was the last major invention that was widespread? I don't mean a new computer program, as important and valuable as those are. But an actual three-dimensional invention, that a guy can tinker with in his back garage, fulfilling the American dream? It seems that now you need a few advanced degrees or hours in front learning Colbol to do anything significant. At least since Velcro.

Daniel Amos was one of those rare bands that did quite well in music, climbing with country music to the top of the Christian charts, but quit, realizing that they weren't being authentic for them. They changed over to New Wave, producing numerous albums after that, and never again doing well in the music charts. The sound remained steady, despite numerous name changes as well, including Daniel Amos Band and Swirling Eddies. You could count on them for good sound and biting, deep lyrics, always requiring the listener to think.

They had one song on the album "Vox Humana" called "(It's the Eighties, So Where's Our) Rocket Packs?". Prophetic as always, Daniel Amos summed up the situation well.

"I thought by now we'd walk the moon
And ride a car without no tires
And have a robot run the vacuum
And date a girl made out of wires.
No things don't change that much, do they?
We are still out of touch,
by now we should discover,
just how to love each other...
I thought by now we'd live in space,
And eat a pill instead of dinner,
And wear a gas mask on our face,
a President of female gender..."

I look forward to our base on the moon. But unless the Chinese get in on the act, or someone else like the Saudis, I don't see the U.S. being inspired enough to actually do it, even by 2024.
This is the discussion of the World Science updates as they become available.
Your thoughts are most welcome here.