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Seed Newsvine

So what’s not known about this new planet? A lot, it seems. But isn’t that what science is all about. Peeking into the unknown to find answers to what was previously unanswerable is what drives scientific inquiry. If in our galaxy alone there are something like 100 million planets that could support life and only 10% actually do there are 10 million planets that do support life. If only 10% of those support some form of intelligent life then there are 1 million planets in the Milky Way Galaxy that support intelligent life. If only 10% support advanced civilizations then there are some 100,000 planets in our galaxy alone that support advanced civilizations.I am willing to bet that none of those folks out there look anything like human beings. In spite of the fact that Star Trek confirmed that everyone in the galaxy speaks English, I doubt that as well. The point here is that we may not be so isolated or unique as we might want to think.

I, for one, am excited about living in a time when reason may finally push aside reasons to believe in the fairy-god of the heavens by erasing the need to fear the unknown. Not knowing, Richard Dawkins reminds us, is the inspiration for either rigorous inquiry or closing off inquiry and pushing the god default button by attributing everything to some unknown creator.

What an exciting new discovery. I can’t wait to learn more.

clipped from www.chicagotribune.com
European astronomers say they have found the first Earth-sized planet beyond this solar system with temperatures mild enough to allow liquid water—a crucial step toward answering whether our cradle of life is unique in the universe.
The planet circles the star Gliese 581 in the Libra constellation, and at 20 light years away is among the 100 stars closest to Earth. Dubbed Gliese 581c, the planet orbits very close to its star—closer than Mercury is to our sun. But astronomers with the European Southern Observatory say the star is dim enough that average temperatures on the planet would fall in the range of an ordinary Chicago spring day.
If the planet has water—a big unknown—its size and climate could make it habitable, experts said. The planet appears to be about 50 percent larger than Earth and has five times more mass, making it one of the smallest far-off planets ever detected.
Our galaxy alone could be home to 100 million habitable planets,

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Seed Newsvine

Seth Borenstein, writing for the Associated Press and reported by Yahoo says, in part:

As the world warms, water — either too little or too much of it — is going to be the major problem for the United States, scientists and military experts said Monday. It will be a domestic problem, with states clashing over controls of rivers, and a national security problem as water shortages and floods worsen conflicts and terrorism elsewhere in the world, they said.

Borenstein is reporting on a scientific report on global warming pointing out what many already know, that water will be the next natural resource over which global wars are to be fought. Forget oil, simple water is the resource of the future. Never mind whether you want to believe in the threat of global warming (the perpetual deniers claiming there just isn’t enough science to prove or disprove the danger) the point here is that water, something the United States will have in abundance, will become the most sought after commodity a very short time into the future. The real question, it seems to me, is do we have the political courage to do something NOW about the potential of global warming, the world wide threat of human contribution to the destruction of our environment, the only one we have by the way, or do we close our eyes to the potential–even if you believe the potential to be small–and bury our heads in the sand? I want to suggest that in the case of saving our planet it is far better to err on the side of caution than to do absolutely nothing until it really is too late.

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Seed Newsvine

Embarrassingly, in the 21st century, in the most scientifically advanced nation the world has ever known, creationists can still persuade politicians, judges and ordinary citizens that evolution is a flawed, poorly supported fantasy. They lobby for creationist ideas such as “intelligent design” to be taught as alternatives to evolution in science classrooms. As this article goes to press, the Ohio Board of Education is debating whether to mandate such a change. Some antievolutionists, such as Philip E. Johnson, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley and author of Darwin on Trial, admit that they intend for intelligent-design theory to serve as a “wedge” for reopening science classrooms to discussions of God.

Read the whole story at Scientific American. Maybe, just maybe, the science will outweigh the mythology.

What is important to remember in this entire non-debate is that scientific investigation is something quite different that belief or faith. In fact, in St. Thomas Aquinas’ proofs for the existence of God, Aquinas sets forth the a priori that in order to be persuaded by his arguments one must first be a believer, have faith that the word of the Bible is true. If all one intends is to persuade the already persuaded then it seems to me that the argument of intelligent design fails. It persuades only those who believe the literal truth of the Christian bible. For this group of fundamentalists perhaps there is a debate, one that, if evolution is correct, undermines their very belief structure. But for the rest of us, intelligent design is so badly flawed that it is hardly worth the time. Nowhere else but in the United States is there a debate. Nowhere else do people believe that watching The Flintstones is like watching a documentary film. So read on, look at the science; you should find that there is no debate between Darwinian evolutionary science and intelligent design–except among those already persuaded that evolution is the work of Satan himself.

Read the Whole Article | digg story

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