Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Daily 2 Cents: Would You Baptize An Alien? -- Shadow by the Crib -- Mutant Super-Rats Invade Liverpool


Would you baptize an alien?

That is the unusual question posed to students in Leeds by one of the Pope’s astronomers.

Scientific theories and religion look set to collide in a talk by leading papal astronomer Brother Guy Consolmagno SJ.

The acclaimed astronomer and Jesuit will share why astronomical research is so important to the Vatican.

Brother Guy is based at the Vatican Observatory headquarters in Castel Gandolfo and he curates the Vatican meteorite collection, which is believed to be one of the largest in the world.

He will deliver a lecture called “Would you baptize an Extra-Terrestrial?” at Leeds Trinity University, which is based in Horsforth.

He said: “I am excited to be coming to Leeds.

“I’ve always enjoyed visiting the north of England and have never actually visited Leeds itself, so that will make this visit special for me.

“And of course, the universities are well known, so I am looking forward to meeting people.”

The leading speaker is reported to have said he would be happy to baptise an alien - but admitted the chances of communicating with life outside the Earth were low.

Brother Guy, who was born in Detroit, studied planetary sciences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his research explores the connections between meteorites and asteroids.

He spent six weeks collecting meteorites with a team on the blue ice of Antarctica and has published more than 200 scientific publications.

The astronomer will share more about the history of the Vatican Observatory and the importance of astronomical research to the Vatican.

Brother Guy’s lecture forms part of a joint lecture series between the Leeds Trinity University’s chaplaincy and department of theology and religious studies.

Patricia Kelly, senior lecturer in catholic studies at Leeds Trinity University, said: “I’m delighted that Brother Guy has agreed to visit Leeds Trinity - it’s a real honour to have him here.

“He’s one of the best and most exciting speakers on science and religion and having heard him speak before on astronomy and God, I can’t wait to hear him again.” - Yorkshire Evening Post

Christianity and Extraterrestrials?: A Catholic Perspective

The Book of Thoth: The Wisdom of the Egyptians

Science, Religion, and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence


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Shadow by the Crib

“I was babysitting my niece once while I was staying at my brother’s place, and they had the baby camera setup so I could see her on the little TV it came with. I was studying and started dozing off when I heard some whispering and realized it was coming from the monitor.

I initially thought it was some feedback or something, but when I looked at the TV there was a dark shadow near my niece’s crib. I have never been more terrified in my life, but the shadow was clearly there where it had not been before. I ran to my niece’s room and looked around and saw nothing, but I took her the hell out of there. I went back to the TV, and the shadow was clearly gone.

I told my brother what happened and he pulled me aside and told me not to mention it to my sister-in-law because she’ll freak out, but that he had seen that same thing several times now, with the same whispering.

They stayed in that house for about four more years and when my niece was just learning to talk she would tell her mom about her ‘special friend.’ To this day, it scares the shit out of me. When they moved out, my brother told me my niece had become inconsolably sad because she would miss her ‘friend.’, Her mom would tell her she could bring him along but all she would say was that he couldn’t leave the house. We have never to this day told her about that damn shadow, and she apparently never saw it.” - Reddit

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Mutant super-rats the size of cats and immune to poison invade Liverpool

Mutant super-rats which are immune to poison are making their home in Liverpool. Pest controllers working in the city say some disease-carrying rodents are the size of small cats and are becoming resistant to the bait used to kill them.

Sean Whelan, of Whelan Pest Prevention, said: “All around Merseyside there’s been a problem. We’re seeing bigger rats in Liverpool. They’re super-rats in my opinion.” Rat-catchers say the rodents are gorging themselves on food left in bins near take-away, restaurants and houses.

Sean added: “Access to food is so easy for them. They’re like humans, they eat and eat and get bigger and bigger.” Neil Trimnell, who runs Liverpool-based Pestforce, said: “They do seem to be getting bigger over the last 18 months. They’re eating more food and different types of food, particularly fast food waste.”

In the 1960s and 70s rat poison was based on blood-thinning drug warfarin. Now rat-catchers use a rodent killer made from bromadiolone but Sean says neither of these are working on some rats. Pest controllers are now looking at using stronger types of poison which would require the permission of the Health and Safety Executive. - Liverpool Echo

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Kawah Ijen, The Volcano That Spews Blue Flames

Kawah Ijen is one of several volcanoes located within the 20 km wide Ijen Caldera in East Java, Indonesia. The caldera of Kawah Ijen harbors a kilometer-wide, turquoise colored, acidic crater lake that leaks sulphurous gases constantly. At night the hot gases burn to emit an eerie blue glow that is unique to Kawah Ijen. The gases emerge from the cracks in the volcano at high pressure and temperature, up to 600°C, and when they come in contact with the air, they ignite, sending flames up to 16 feet high. Some of the gases condense into liquid sulfur, and continues to burn as it flows down the slopes giving the feeling of blue lava flowing.

Kawah Ijen’s sulphuric gases are also mined for sulphur. The volcanic gases are trapped by the local miners and channeled through a network of ceramic pipes, resulting in condensation of molten sulfur. The sulfur, which is deep red in color when molten, pours slowly from the ends of these pipes and pools on the ground, turning bright yellow as it cools. The miners break the cooled material into large pieces and carry it away in baskets to a nearby refinery. A worker can earn up to $13 dollars a day in this way.

The workers work in extremely hazardous condition with insufficient protection. Most of them suffers from numerous respiratory problems due to breathing toxic fumes day in and out. At times they work at night under to escape the heat of the sun, and to earn extra income.

These pictures were captured by photographer Olivier Grunewald, who lost two lenses and a camera to sulphuric corrosion while trying to capture the mysterious pictures. More photos at Amusing Planet

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